ATLANTIC CITY — Revel Entertainment Group has agreed to dedicate $1 million to restore the front of the city’s Garden Pier as part of a deal in which the state has agreed to demolish the structure’s battered far end.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority is funding the collapse of the pier’s back end for $1 million. Meanwhile, Revel has committed to match the CRDA’s investment to fix the front of the pier, which houses the Atlantic City Arts Center and the Atlantic City Historical Museum.
“We’re prepared to invest money to make it look better,” Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis said today.
Revel officials have an interest in sprucing up the pier as construction workers recently returned to the site of the company’s $2.5 billion casino project adjacent to it. The megacasino is scheduled to be opened by next summer.
City officials have closed and reopened the pier several times over recent years because of corrosion and decay beneath the structure, which has rendered it dangerous. Whether Revel’s funding will make the pier safer is still undetermined.
Nicholas Talvacchia, an attorney for Revel, said the company has not finalized exactly what improvements will be funded, but DeSanctis made the unspecified improvements sound more like a cosmetic effort than a structural one.
Constructed in 1913, Garden Pier got its name from the ornate flowers that once decorated the concrete pilings on the 1,500-foot pier’s far end. The city has owned the storm-lashed pier at the Boardwalk and New Jersey Avenue since 1944. City government took ownership several months before “The Great Atlantic Hurricane” washed away a grand ballroom that once stood at the end of the pier, the same section now being demolished.
Since then, the city has made several failed efforts to transfer the pier to private or corporate hands and get it rehabilitated. A plan to sell the pier was floated in 1989, and again 10 years later, when City Council rejected a plan to give the pier to casino developer MGM Grand Inc. Revel officials also engaged in discussions to buy the site, but both DeSanctis and Talvacchia said those talks are not being renewed.
“Everybody has a different view on what should happen on the pier, but right now you can’t put too much weight on it,” DeSanctis said. “Economically, I don’t know that buying it would be a smart decision right now.”
The far end of the pier was identified as the third-worst eyesore in Atlantic City through a public poll administered by Mayor Lorenzo Langford last year. And more of those eyesores could be addressed in the near future. The CRDA-funded demolition of the pier is separate from the additional $1 million the authority plans to invest in a citywide demolition program. The authority has identified several eyesores and is collaborating with the city and its own list to intensify local demolition efforts.
Meanwhile, the demolished concrete at the pier will see new life later this month — under water.
The historic pier’s pilings are scheduled to be moved April 22 to become part of the Great Egg Reef, the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife said.
About 6,000 cubic yards of demolition concrete from the pier will be sunk and added to the reef, a news release said. The reef is located eight nautical miles southeast of the pier.
The concrete should provide a home for mussels, barnacles and eventually sea bass and other fish, helping to enhance drift fishing at the reef, the release said.
Staff Writer Dan Good contributed to this report.
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