ATLANTIC CITY — Bart Blatstein was quietly reviving Showboat Atlantic City amid another week of turmoil in the city.

Workers were on site training, cleaning and furnishing the hotel a week before its planned July 8 opening. There were a few scissor jacks and scattered ladders, but no heavy machinery. No one wore hard hats.

Save the empty casino floor — which will be cordoned off by a visual barrier — Showboat, closed since 2014, looked almost ready. The place smelled like soap.

“This is rebirth,” Blatstein said. “What you’re seeing here is rebirth.”

Blatstein’s near execution of his second Boardwalk project felt almost unnoticed during a wild few weeks in the city. A labor strike took place next door Friday at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. Weeks earlier, his other neighbor, Glenn Straub, failed to open the former Revel by his self-imposed deadline due to permitting issues.

On a tour of the resort, Blatstein didn’t seem to mind the lack of fanfare. He shrugged off the suggestion of a splashy grand-opening July 8, when 852 rooms and two restaurants are scheduled to go online.

“We’ll have the first ‘jump on the bed’ or something,” he joked.

Blatstein has big plans for Showboat but is keeping them close to the vest. For now, he’s going with a soft opening to capture some summer revenue while rebranding the property over the next year.

The hotel will still have the same name and Mardi Gras theme. The first floor of the Worship Surf Bar will open in the evenings. A second restaurant, Atlantic City Eatery, will offer three meals a day. There’s also a gym and coffee shop.

Blatstein already has his temporary certificate of occupancy, Mayor Don Guardian said Thursday. He hired 200 people at a June job fair. A request for a Showboat liquor license hasn’t yet come before the city’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board, but the board will do everything it can to expedite the application process, chairman Tom Forkin said.

Blatstein is acquiring Boardwalk properties like a real-life Mr. Monopoly. Hours after the tour, City Council authorized the city to sell Blatstein a former volleyball court next to Showboat for $3.8 million. Council recently authorized the city to sell him Garden Pier for $1.5 million. The pier is across from Revel, or diagonal from Showboat, as Blatstein put it.

“As a developer, I understand the importance of the ability to expand,” he said.

Blatstein already controls another pier — The Playground retail and entertainment complex across from Caesars Atlantic City.

He won’t say what his long-term plans are for the Showboat and nearby parcels. His proposals to the city were vague: a “multifaceted entertainment destination” for the pier, an “event and entertainment center” for the volleyball court.

“It can’t be like the rest of the properties in Atlantic City,” he said.

Pressed for more details, he said: “I’m not telling you.”

Garden Pier and the volleyball court were sought after by Straub, whose attorney threatened legal action Thursday if council authorized the volleyball court agreement. The attorney, Bill Hughes, noted the deal wasn’t made public before the meeting.

Straub hinted at city favoritism toward Blatstein in an interview Friday and offered to bet $100,000 that Showboat wouldn’t open next Friday.

“If he’s got to abide by the same things we have to abide by, there’s no way,” Straub said, describing government hindrance on his planned Revel re-opening.

Blatstein said it’s not a race to reopen and that he’s just focused on Showboat.

“What Atlantic City doesn’t need is more negative. It needs more positive,” Blatstein said. “Atlantic City has the bones to be among the most amazing cities in the world.”

Contact: 609-272-7215

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