Atlantic City inspires many dreams and development proposals that often disappear between the idea and the planning phase. One that has recurred repeatedly is for a water park, a natural attraction for an oceanfront resort.
Soon after the start of the century a water park was imagined as part of redevelopment of Bader Field. By 2008 people were pitching the idea to developer Tom Sherwood. Four years later he proposed a new hotel and indoor water park for the city’s Marina District. Sherwood acquired 7 acres across from the Borgata casino hotel for the $123 million project, but then didn’t get the financing to proceed.
Attention turned to the former Atlantic Club casino hotel in 2015 and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approved using it for an 81,000 square indoor water park accompanied by 800 hotel rooms. That project also didn’t move forward.
The same year that fountain of extravagant local plans never pursued, developer Glenn Straub, proposed a water park for inside the former Revel. As usual nothing came of it. and he sold the place.
Then in 2017 a group of investors took another shot at putting a water park in the Atlantic Club but couldn’t get the financing or the deal done.
Despite all of these false starts, we’re confident that Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein will deliver the water park that Atlantic City has long desired and frankly needs to help broaden its appeal.
Last week he announced he will build a $100 million indoor, year-round water park connected to his Showboat hotel. He expects to begin construction in August.
The location adjacent to Boardwalk and beach looks perfect, especially since it is near one of the city’s few other family attractions — the Steel Pier with its giant Ferris wheel. Families will have enough in the immediate area to make a day of it.
Since the water park will be indoors and self-contained, many parents also will feel comfortable leaving kids to enjoy it while they gamble or see a show.
Water parks are major attractions in nearby Ocean City and Wildwood, so there’s every reason to expect one that feels safe and secure will succeed in Atlantic City.
Bartstein’s development of the large parcel he has put together around Showboat looks like it will be a significant contribution to the revitalization and growth of the resort. The state should be pleased that its takeover and stabilization of city government continues to bring the private investment that is essential to Atlantic City’s better future.