PLEASANTVILLE — The old Press of Atlantic City building at 11 Devins Lane has been sold, and demolition of part of it should start next week.
The 9.7-acre site has been purchased for $25,000 by RGC 3 LLC, of Egg Harbor Township. The man behind RGC 3 is James DiNatale, president of Site Enterprises Inc., also known as SEI, demolition specialists who do site work, asbestos abatement and soil remediation.
“I’m a local guy looking into distressed properties to develop and bring jobs into the area,” said DiNatale, who as the owner of RGC 1 was behind the $2.2 million purchase in 2014 of the former Lenox China plant on Tilton Road in Galloway Township.
DiNatale went to settlement Dec. 29 on the property, which he said had an original asking price of $1.77 million by the Press’ former owner, Pittsburgh-based Abarta.
“They wanted to get it off their books,” DiNatale said.
DiNatale said he is looking to reduce the $165,000 annual property tax bill on the site. That’s why he will demolish the 50,000-square-foot former newsroom and pressroom portion of the building next week, he said.
“The 30,000-square-foot building facing Washington Avenue is staying for now,” said DiNatale, who added the structure could be used for a warehouse or offices.
“I hope it will reduce the property assessment from $4 million and get it down to around $1 million,” said DiNatale, who added he met this week with Mayor Jesse L. Tweedle about the property. “That would open the door to a lot of other, different development.”
RGC 3 looked at the property two years ago to try to lease it as a location for the John Brooks Recovery Center. That deal did not work out, and the recovery center eventually found a home at 660 Black Horse Pike in the city.
DiNatale said he received a call about a month ago to see if he was interested in purchasing the site. On Dec. 20, DiNatale retoured the building. He and his office manager, Eric Keys, met with the city tax assessor.
“On Dec. 28, I told them, ‘I was done,’” DiNatale said.
DiNatale was hesitant to buy the property because of water contamination on the site. There is still a case ongoing about it with the state Department of Environmental Protection, he said.
On Dec. 29, there was a 10-hour meeting that included the title company, Abarta’s lawyer, DiNatale and his lawyer. By 7 p.m., DiNatale said he was the owner of the site.
In DiNatale’s agreement to buy the site, Abarta remains responsible for dealing with the water contamination, he said.
After the purchase, DiNatale said, his environmental person was able to meet with state DEP on Jan. 3.
“Our environmental guy was told it (the water contamination) was not as bad as it could have been,” DiNatale said.
The electric, gas, sewer and cable to the building have been cut out, and the water will be shut off Thursday. The property will be fenced in Friday, DiNatale said.
The demolition of the white brick building will be over in a matter of hours, but to completely clear the site where the old Press building stands, including removing the foundation, will take at least a month, DiNatale said.
DiNatale said he wants to do a redevelopment agreement with the city for the section of the site where the old Press building stands.
The purchase of the Devins Lane site can lead to economic development and jobs in the city, DiNatale said.
When DiNatale bought the old Lenox China site, he was able to have Barrette Outdoor Living move in.
Barrette Outdoor Living makes aluminum and vinyl fences and railings and also runs its Mid-Atlantic distribution center out of the location.
DiNatale estimates 300 full-time and 150 part-time workers are now employed there.
Last year, RGC 2 purchased a 37-acre site where the Allied Brick Company was located in Winslow Township, Camden County. DiNatale said he wants to install an asphalt terminal for his SEI business there, which will lead to the creation of at least 50 jobs.
The former Press building contains an old linotype machine that sat in the lobby outside the Press' editorial offices. Originally developed in 1884, linotypes offered a faster, more efficient way for newspapers to print.
DiNatale does not want to throw it away and said he is willing to donate it to someone willing to take it off his hands
Interested parties can contact DiNatale at 609-517-6757 or Keys at 609-567-1250.