ATLANTIC CITY — Officials are considering using one of the city’s most valuable assets as an incentive for long-term economic development and community revitalization.
The Atlantic City Executive Council discussed the idea of creating a design competition for Bader Field during Tuesday’s meeting at Stockton University’s city campus.
Although still in the very early stages, the concept is similar to one employed when New York City developed the High Line more than a decade ago, said Jim Johnson, special counsel to Gov. Phil Murphy and co-author of the state’s transition report on Atlantic City. When the multi-use public space was being developed on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the City of New York partnered with a community organization to hold a competition to determine a lead design team. Johnson said the plan for Atlantic City is to have a “transparent” process for the solicitation of ideas that may include residents, students and professional developers.
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“We have this tremendous asset that has had some false starts, in terms of design concepts and developing it, period,” Johnson said. “We want to get out of a mode where we’re reactive to ideas ... and instead, we want to be proactive.”
If the proposal advances, Johnson said the plan is to secure funding — likely between $50,000 and $100,000 — for multiple firms to develop a handful of the submitted ideas.
“This is an invitation to participate in developing those ideas,” Johnson said.
In other business, the Executive Council received an update from Johnson about planned testimony in front of a state Assembly committee about reviewing casino regulations. Johnson recommended a review of current regulations in the state’s report on the Atlantic City transition as a way to secure the industry’s long-term fiscal health. He proposed a cap on the number of casino licenses or on the total market capacity, an idea he presented to a state Senate committee earlier this year.
Johnson said an economist is working on a report that details the economic impact of legalizing casino gaming in nearby states, specifically Pennsylvania and New York, on Atlantic City.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and Johnson both said the state’s tax task force — created after Atlantic City property owners were hit with a surprise tax increase this summer — could complete its work as early as the end of the month. Oliver said it was possible a policy proposal to assist property owners with their increased tax burden could be applied to fourth-quarter bills.