ATLANTIC CITY — The owner of the former Revel Casino Hotel accused Atlantic City’s top officials Wednesday of orchestrating a “power play” that the company says is undercutting plans for the struggling resort town.
Last week, City Council named M & J at Melrose LLC the official redeveloper of land in the city’s dormant South Inlet section, including land where Revel sits.
Firms with “redeveloper” designations guide development in a redevelopment zone. They can receive long-term tax abatements from a city. They can acquire city-owned land without public bidding. And they can partner with a city to use eminent domain to take property within the zone.
Council President Frank Gilliam Jr. in November said he was disturbed that Revel owner Polo North Country Club Inc. hasn’t reopened the building.
By naming a South Inlet redeveloper, the city will be able to threaten eminent domain and spur Polo North into opening the 6.2 million-square-foot complex, which has been closed for 15 months, he said.
In a letter sent to Mayor Don Guardian and City Council Wednesday, an attorney for Polo North questioned the decision to name a redeveloper for land underlying Revel and 70 vacant lots owned by Polo North. The decision, the letter states, is “difficult to understand.”
“We can only surmise that Atlantic City is unlawfully attempting to exercise a power play over Polo North,” it states.
The redeveloper designation is hampering Polo North’s ability to contract with potential tenants of Revel, and the use or threat of eminent domain “will lead to a long drawn out legal battle,” it states.
Glenn Straub, the investor who controls Polo North, recently hand-delivered a $4.3 million check to City Hall as payment for third and fourth quarter property taxes. Last week, his company announced it was settling a grinding dispute over energy fees by buying a power plant across the street from the Revel building.
Now, the company “is prepared to proceed with its efforts to reopen...[Revel], but cannot do so until the Polo North properties are no longer within the area designated for redevelopment,” according to the letter.
M & J is owned by Joseph Jingoli Jr. and Jack Morris.
Jingoli runs an influential construction firm that builds large infrastructure projects, including the power plant used by Revel. Morris is a real estate developer behind the mixed-use Garden State Park development in Cherry Hill.
M & J has not submitted a South Inlet redevelopment plan to the city, a company spokeswoman said. Jingoli and Morris are not available to comment on their intentions for the neighborhood, she said.
If submitted, a redevelopment plan from M & J would require approval from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which regulates land use and zoning in the city’s Tourism District.
The city did not issue a request for proposals before naming M & J the redeveloper, Councilman Marty Small said last week.
The city's planning director did not immediately return a call for comment.