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Icahn purchases deed, terminates lease on Trump Plaza

ATLANTIC CITY — Billionaire hedge-fund manager Carl Icahn has removed a potential hurdle for selling his lone remaining holding in the resort, Trump Plaza, by purchasing the deed to the property and terminating a complicated lease agreement signed by President Donald Trump in the early 1980s.

According to county records, IEP AC Plaza LLC, a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises, paid $3 million Dec. 6 for the nearly 40-year-old deed to the property from Plaza Hotel Management Co. On the same date, IEP AC Plaza and Plaza Hotel Management terminated a $1 million-per-year ground lease agreement, effectively eliminating a sticking point that would complicate a sale of the property.

The lease was scheduled to be in effect until 2078, according to records.

Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino closed in 2014 and has been vacant since.

Look back at Trump Plaza

Icahn, through his attorney, declined to comment on the transactions Friday. Plaza Hotel Management, owned by Miami-based Stanoff Corp., could not be reached for comment.

Stanoff is headed by Robert K. Lifton, an author, entrepreneur, activist and former president of the American Jewish Congress. Lifton was Trump’s “landlord” at the Plaza, as he detailed in his book “An Entrepreneur’s Journey: Stories from a Life in Business and Personal Diplomacy.”

In 2016, Icahn purchased the debt of the thrice-bankrupt Trump Entertainment Resorts and gained control of the Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, which closed in October of that year and reopened last June as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

Icahn had been seeking to demolish the shuttered Plaza, which sits at the base of the Atlantic City Expressway. Last year, asbestos removal was completed in the 34-year-old building.

The demolition project, according to previous reports in The Press, was estimated by Icahn to cost $13.5 million, and he sought $5.6 million in Investment Alternative Tax funding from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to help offset the cost. The plan stalled after Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, opposed releasing the funds to Icahn, stating in a letter to CRDA Chairman Robert E. Mulcahy that “if the property needs to be demolished, Mr. Icahn should pay.”

IAT funds are typically used for nongaming expansions or improvements, but under the current state takeover regulations, the money is redirected to Atlantic City to help pay down its debt.

In the past two years, Icahn has sold off two Atlantic City properties. In 2017, he sold the Taj Mahal to a group of investors, including Hard Rock International, for $50 million. Last year, Icahn completed a $1.85 billion sale of Tropicana Entertainment and seven properties, including Tropicana Atlantic City, to Eldorado Resorts Inc. and Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc.

The Plaza and Taj Mahal were among the three Atlantic City casino properties formerly owned by Trump’s entertainment venture, the other being the former Trump Marina Hotel Casino, now operating as Golden Nugget Atlantic City. The president has not had a formal role in Trump Entertainment since at least 2011.

PHOTOS of Trump Plaza as it appears now

Middle_township
Whitesboro to get new post office, Postal Service says

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — Whitesboro will get a new post office at a new location after going months without one, postal officials told community members Thursday.

The former post office trailer next to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center at 207 Main St. was removed over the summer.

Since then, residents with post office boxes have picked up their mail at the MLK Center. The former trailer was in bad shape, with rust stains on the exterior and other aesthetic issues.

“We’ll do better than that for you,” David M. Wolff, a real estate specialist with the U.S. Postal Service, said during a special meeting at the MLK center.

Plans call for another trailer, which would be 40 feet long and a little more than 12 feet wide, essentially the same size as a standard tractor-trailer cargo space.

Resident Gloria M. Jackson asked whether the Postal Service could design a building in keeping with the historic nature of the community.

“When we get done it, it will look really nice,” Wolff responded about the new trailer. “They do not look tacky.”

Wolff would not say how much the Postal Service has budgeted for the site or for the building.

He said he will look at options for a location and make a recommendation to a committee, which will make the final decision. That process typically takes about five months from when he makes his report presenting options, he said.

He did not give an estimate for how long it will be until the new post office is in place. In the meantime, those with P.O. boxes can continue to collect their mail at the MLK center, where a room has been set aside for the boxes in use.

The township has already offered a site for the trailer: the historic Whitesboro School at 100 Main St., not far from the MLK center. The building has not been used as a school for some time, according to Mayor Timothy Donohue, who said it is used by the Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro for programs. Those programs would not be interrupted if the post office trailer were located at the site, he said.

According to Donohue, some improvements to the crosswalks leading to the property would be needed to make crossing Route 9 safer. The route is also known as Main Street through much of Middle Township.

The Postal Service has not decided on the township site, Wolff said, adding he is willing to consider leasing retail space or other possibilities.

Whitesboro residents said Thursday, and in other meetings, that keeping the independent identity of the historically black community is important. Some residents said their homes have been in Whitesboro throughout their lives, but that they are now listed in the Cape May Court House ZIP code for home delivery. Others said GPS and home delivery services like Amazon in some instances don’t even recognize Whitesboro, while others raised concerns about public safety if emergency responders cannot locate addresses. Wolff said he is responsible for real estate transactions, but that he would try to find answers.

Whitesboro began in 1901, founded by attorney and Republican North Carolina Congressman George Henry White, the last African American representative elected before the start of the Jim Crow era. He and other investors founded Whitesboro as a planned community for African Americans.

Residents have 30 days from the date of the meeting to offer comment or suggest potential sites for the new post office. Wolff said comments may be sent to david.m.wolff@usps.gov or to PO Box 27497, Greensboro, NC, 27498.


Craig Matthews / Staff Photographer  

The Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino closed in 2014 and has been vacant since. Last year, asbestos removal was completed in the 34-year-old building.


Henny Ray Abrams//  

ICAHN


Cape_may
Furloughed Coast Guard employees can accept donated goods

CAPE MAY — As the partial government shutdown continues, the U.S. Coast Guard training facility is asking organizations collecting goods for employees and enlistees working without pay to open their drive up to all federal workers.

That would allow Coast Guard recipients to get around ethics rules that block them from accepting more than $20 worth of goods.

Enlistees and civilian employees received pay on the first of the year, said John Edwards, spokesman for the facility, though the source of the allocated funds was not identified. Should the shutdown continue, workers will not receive a paycheck Jan. 15, the next pay cycle.

“Then the word ‘need’ would really become applicable,” he said.

The drive, led by the American Legion in Wildwood and the Seaville Fire & Rescue Company, has collected diapers, food, baby formula, cash and gift cards. It was started independent of the Coast Guard, Edwards said.

“We didn’t start getting wind of the donations and the drives until we started fielding calls from the media,” he said.

The Chief Petty Officers Association has agreed to accept and disperse the collected goods, Edwards said, since they aren’t under the purview of the federal government.

The Coast Guard is also asking the organizations to direct any monetary collections to the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance fund and forward a letter spelling out that the donations came from residents to ensure that no prohibited organizations were involved.

The Code of Federal Regulations does not allow federal employees to solicit gifts or accept ones that are contingent on their position.

“Any agency, any person impacted by the partial shutdown, should be allowed to this benefit,” Edwards said.

The code says they can’t accept gifts that “create the appearance that the donor is receiving preferential treatment or would cause a reasonable person to question the employee’s integrity or impartiality.”

Some 42,000 members across the Coast Guard are working without pay, including employees at Training Center Cape May. Unlike other branches of the military, the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, not the Department of Defense, which remains fully funded.

Ninety-eight civilian employees are affected by the shutdown at the Cape May Coast Guard facility. Twenty-four are deemed essential and are working without pay, while the remaining 74 are furloughed.

Vince DePrinzio, adjutant at the American Legion in Wildwood, said the squabble over border funding is wrongheaded, especially with workers going without pay.

“We have a motto: ‘Veterans helping veterans,’ ” he said. “We feel it’s important because, hey, there are families there. They don’t have any money to buy anything. So we’re gonna do the best we can do to help them.”

Donations are still coming in, DePrinzio said.

“A little bit here, a little bit there. We’re in pretty good shape,” he said. “And we’ll do what they want to do; we’ll go by the rules.”