More than 13 years since the last slot machine lever was pulled at Trump World’s Fair Casino, plans have emerged to transform part of the site into a retail development fronting the Boardwalk.

Luxury homebuilder Bruce E. Toll’s firm, BET Investments, has plans to construct a 16,000-square-foot development with shops and possibly restaurants in front of the West Hall wing of Boardwalk Hall.

Peter Clelland, BET Investments’ director of development, said the firm has yet to secure tenants for the building but has seen interest from two national restaurant chains. The firm is hoping that the development expected to be complete by May 2014 will have an “upscale” feel and house several tenants, he said.

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“With the way the market has been, we think it’s a good time to start looking at this,” Clelland said, adding that if all goes well, the firm hopes to be able to add development to the remainder of the former casino site between Florida and Bellevue avenues.

The development is planned on a parcel that measures about three quarters of an acre, but the firm owns the entire 2.5-acre, L-shaped property that formerly housed several casinos.

Trump World’s Fair Casino closed in 1999 after a troubled 3½-year run and was demolished soon after.

Toll purchased the property for $25.15 million at a bankruptcy auction in 2005, outbidding Donald Trump. He had plans to build high-rise luxury condominiums with a retail component on the site, but like many others at the time, the project never advanced due to a declining real estate market.

Meanwhile, the site has remained empty.

BET Investments has applied to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for several variances or waivers for the project involving setbacks and parking. Following the creation of the Tourism District in 2011, the CRDA controls zoning functions in the city. A public hearing on the application is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday.

Clelland said the variances are relatively minor. The firm is still awaiting a building permit from the city and approvals in changes to its Coastal Area Facility Review Act permit before construction can begin.

If approved, the project would be the latest of several changes to the property. It first housed the Playboy casino in 1981. It was then turned into the Atlantis casino and then the Trump Regency Hotel before its last run as the World’s Fair.

The remainder of the site between Florida and Bellevue avenues is currently slated to house an art project in development by the Atlantic City Alliance. The site, which would still be owned by BET Investments, is expected have a garden as well as an elevated viewing area allowing visitors clear views of the ocean above the dunes. The alliance would create the temporary art installation but return it to its original state if other development opportunities arise.

Clelland said the firm’s current retail plans would not interfere with the art project.

Contact Jennifer Bogdan:


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