ATLANTIC CITY — The demolition of the facade at the closed Trump Taj Mahal is expected to start next week, said Joseph Jingoli, one of the investors in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City project.
Jingoli made the statement during the Casino Reinvestment’s public hearing Tuesday morning on Hard Rock’s application for an Entertainment Retail District designation around the project. The public hearing lasted less than 10 minutes, during which three people testified in favor of the project.
“The project will generate more than 1,000 union construction jobs,” Jingoli said during the hearing. “We expect to open during the summer of 2018.”
The demolition of the facade will include the removal of the Indian-themed decor at the property once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
The Entertainment Retail District, established by law in 2001, is a tax-incentive program to encourage the construction of new entertainment and retail venues in Atlantic City. The purpose is to further entice visitors to the city, as well as create new jobs and tax revenue for state and local government.
“This is extremely important to us,” Jingoli said of getting the designation for the property. “What we are doing is building a state of the art entertainment complex, casino and hotel and having the support of the CRDA in the Entertainment district is going to allow us do more to the project.”
The district would make Hard Rock eligible for various tax breaks and allow the CRDA to receive certain sales tax and room rebates. The designation entitles the company to a rebate on sales and use taxes on construction materials for the building and its luxury tax from hotel-room fees for 20 years or until the total rebate amount equals the cost of the project. The split for the project has yet to be finalized, state officials said.
“We are all very excited about this project,” said Steve Young, a resident of the resort. “I’m glad that you are reopening it and not keeping it vacant.”
Lance Landgraf, director of planning for the CRDA and hearing office, said a report on Hard Rock’s application will be presented to the state agency’s board at their next meeting.
The city is eligible for 11 entertainment retail districts. It now has five. The last time the authority gave that designation was to Revel, which has since gone bankrupt. The five existing designations include The Walk, The Quarter at Tropicana, The Pier at Caesars, Harrah’s and The Water Club at Borgata.
Hard Rock International and investors Joe Jingoli and Jack Morris plan to spend $500 million to renovate and rebrand the property. The project is expected to generate more than 1,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs, according to Hard Rock.
“We closed in a very short period of time,” Jingoli said of the purchase of the property from former owner Carl Icahn in March. “There has been more work to do in the building than we originally anticipated.”
The revamped property will offer poolside and restaurant gambling, skill-based slots, fantasy sports betting and hidden VIP gambling rooms.