Editor's note: This story was originally published March 1, 2017.

ATLANTIC CITY — The news of Hard Rock’s purchase of Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort was welcome to a city that has been subject to an abundance of gloom since five casinos closed between 2014 and 2016.

But in retrospect, the purchase did not come as a total surprise.

Businessmen Jim Allen and Joseph Jingoli have been part of the city for years.

After Taj Mahal closed, Allen, the CEO of Hard Rock, hinted he was interested in investing in the property when he announced the restaurant inside Taj would stay open despite the casino closing its doors.

“We’re committed to save these jobs and save the employees’ future,” Allen said in November. “We’re looking forward to the future to bring many more jobs to Atlantic City.”

Allen, 55, told The Press of Atlantic City in November a financial analysis conducted by the company recommended the restaurant be shut down. Despite that, he said he got support from the board to keep the restaur-ant open to try to help the struggling city.

Allen, a 1978 Mainland Regional High School graduate, began his career as a sous chef in a local restaurant before being hired by Bally’s Atlantic City. His father died when he was a teen, and Allen went to work to support his family.

From there, he worked his way up the executive ladders at several Atlantic City properties.

Allen was working at the Hilton when former Trump Taj Mahal owner Donald Trump took over. He made such an impression on Trump’s first wife, Ivana, that she urged him to stay at the company.

Over eight years, he continued to climb the Atlantic City ladder and eventually oversaw Trump’s three Atlantic City properties before leaving the city to work for casinos in Colorado, Louisiana and Massachusetts. Eventually, he joined Mohegan Sun, which was then operated by Sol Kerzner.

Kerzner sold Resorts, bought the Atlantis in the Bahamas and brought Allen with him, according to Press archives.

A headhunter told Allen the Seminole Indian Tribe was looking for a CEO who could build casino hotels for them. Allen took the job and oversaw the construction and completion of two casino hotels in Florida: one in Hollywood and one in Tampa.

Along the way, he developed a reputation as a hands-on manager, according to a 2016 Forbes profile of the Seminole tribe and its success.

Since then, he’s overseen the tribe’s purchase of the Hard Rock brand and has made no secret about his desire to bring that brand to Atlantic City over the past few years.

Joseph Jingoli has overseen projects all around the region, including the generators at the Atlantic County Criminal Courts Complex, the former Revel and the Atlantic County Utilities Authority’s Landfill Gas to Energy Project.

Now, Jingoli, 58, is the general contractor and construction manager of the $206 million Gateway Project in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood.

The Atlantic City Development Corp. chose Jingoli based on his firm’s performance on prior projects.

Jingoli lived in Chelsea for nearly 10 years between the 1990s and the 2000s.

Now, his company will partner with Hard Rock and Jack Morris to reinvent the Taj Mahal.

The new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is expected to be open by summer 2018, according to Mayor Don Guardian.

Contact: 609-272-7090 SHughes@pressofac.com Twitter ACPress_hughes

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