ATLANTIC CITY — Next month, City Council will try again to bring a vote to approve a developer that wants to turn Gardner’s Basin into a “state-of-the-art waterfront destination.”
Should the council approve the agreement at its Sept. 6 meeting, the redeveloper, Scarborough Properties, has proposed it would try to buy the land next to the waterfront area — owned by President Donald Trump’s son in-law’s family business, Kushner Companies — and use it to expand.
The city in October issued a Request for Proposals for the management and operation of Gardner’s Basin. Somers Point-based Scarborough Properties was chosen as the potential new developer.
A resolution on the Aug. 9 City Council meeting agenda would have voted to approve the redevelopment and lease-management agreement of Gardner’s Basin. But Councilman Kaleem Shabazz, who sponsored the resolution, decided to pull it after questions arose.
Shabazz said he will put the resolution back on the Sept. 6 council meeting agenda.
“We need to go to the next step to move forward,” he said.
Scarborough outlined its plans in the proposal submitted in October to renovate and update the area by buying the property next to it, otherwise known as Caspian Point, from Kushner Companies.
A copy of a letter sent from Kushner Companies to Scarborough is in the proposal, dated September 2016, which states the real estate company would be willing to sell the adjacent property if a “reasonable offer” was made.
“We have interest in selling the property to you and would welcome a reasonable offer should you prevail in your efforts to move into long term control of Gardner’s Basin,” the letter states.
The New York City-headquartered company formerly run by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has owned the plot of land next to Gardner’s Basin, bordered by New Hampshire and Caspian avenues, since 2004.
It’s the site of the former Garwood Mills department store, and Kushner Companies had plans to build a $175 million residential and commercial complex there, but it was never built.
Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Trump and husband to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, was the former executive of the real estate company before being tapped to head the Office of American Innovation for the president.
Representatives for both Kushner Companies and Scarborough Properties did not have comments on the proposed plans.
Scarborough’s proposal, in addition to expansion, includes enhancements to some existing Gardner’s Basin features such as the aquarium, and factors in a new pier restaurant to replace the now-demolished Scales Restaurant.
The proposed plans would also include adding features such as a children’s garden, a minigolf course, a water taxi and development with retail, restaurants and parking along Caspian Point, if it’s acquired.
Gardner’s Basin is currently managed and leased by the Atlantic City Historical Waterfront Foundation. Some board members of the foundation expressed frustration at the previous council meeting that specific details of the proposed plans were not released to them before the resolution was voted on.
Shabazz mentioned the foundation should be recognized for the work they did with the area, but the city is ready to continue with development plans.
The land that Gardner’s Basin sits on does have its restrictions, though, imposed by state and federal grants received in the 1970s. The state Green Acres funding it received, designed to promote open space and recreation, has limitations on what can be built in the area.
The proposal indicates that Scarborough Properties is familiar with the restrictions and would be able to preserve and promote waterfront activities and development.