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Atlantic City's new housing development exceeding expectations

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ATLANTIC CITY — Juan Pemberti began his law enforcement career in Atlantic City as a Class II Special Officer.

Although he no longer patrols the resort’s Tourism District, the 27-year-old and his wife, Angela Dominguez, 28, recently moved back into Atlantic City.

The couple found exactly what they wanted in 600 NoBe, the city’s first market-rate housing development in nearly a half-century.

“When I tell a friend that I’m living here I always describe it as something you really don’t find anywhere else in this area. I always describe it as an all-in-one place, almost like a resort,” Pemberti said. “It gives a modern-living feeling, like a New York City-style, but in Atlantic City. You don’t see this anywhere else in the city, especially at such an affordable price.”

The 250-unit luxury development opened at the beginning of 2019 and has already exceeded expectations of those behind the project. Management said leases are being signed quicker than anticipated and 600 NoBe, short for North Beach, has attracted both white- and blue-collar professionals.

“We have doctors, police officers, restaurant owners and casino workers all moving in or already living here,” said Maritza Busch, director of leasing. “We thought it would take 18 months or so to reach our goals, but in less than eight months, we’re already close.”

When Boraie Development LLC first proposed constructing an $85 million market-rate housing project in the South Inlet, there were plenty of skeptics. Pauline’s Prairie — a moniker given by locals to the area that former city housing authority director Pauline Hill aggressively demolished in hopes of spurring urban renewal — has enticed its fair share of eager developers over the last half-century, but nothing ever really panned out.

The neighborhood, which sits in the shadow of the $2.4 billion Ocean Casino Resort, is scarred from the prior failed attempts at urban revitalization. Among the empty plots of beach-block land, random homes and a handful of resilient businesses dot the landscape.

On a typical day, there are often more plastic bags floating on the wind through the Prairie than people walking the streets.

The neighborhood’s aesthetics did not deter Gregory Nelson from moving to 600 NoBe. Nelson, a 51-year-old plumber and HVAC technician at Resorts Casino Hotel, found the development by happenstance driving around the city, lured in by an advertisement on the street corner.

“It feels like they’re building the (area) up,” he said. “I know people who lived in this area 10 years ago and they told me ‘Don’t do it.’ But, it feels like a place I can walk around and feel comfortable. It seems like they did a lot with Atlantic City to make it a little more comfortable.”

Nelson left his home in Sicklerville to be closer to work. He said that despite warnings from his friends, he found the neighborhood to be safe.

“I (was) happy to find this place because, when I looked around, this was probably the best place in Atlantic City that I’ve seen,” he said.

Tina Maruca sold her four-bedroom home in Absecon to relocate to Atlantic City. The 59-year old school administrator said she wanted to downsize after her children moved out.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to be in New Jersey for at least another two years, so what better place to be than right by the shore?’” Maruca said.

Maruca also downplayed any safety concerns about living in Atlantic City because she does not “go out at night and walk around by myself.”

She does, however, regularly walk the Boardwalk for exercise. She often takes her stroll with a friend but occasionally goes alone.

“I’m familiar with this area (so) I wasn’t apprehensive,” she said. “Living here, I’m not (concerned about safety).”

Courtney Burgess, 48, was among the first tenants to move into 600 NoBe when he arrived in January. The music producer said he had only been to Atlantic City “once or twice” in the 1990s before deciding to make the beach resort his new home. Lured by the proximity to the ocean, Burgess said his decision was sealed when he saw the retail options at Tanger Outlets The Walk.

“I’m looking forward to being here when the summer comes,” Burgess said. “I made a great decision. If I had to do it again, I (would).”

Pemberti and Dominguez said 600 NoBe is where they want to be until they can afford to purchase a home of their own. Until then, the couple said they are proud to be contributing to Atlantic City’s revitalization.

“The more people that move in, the more they’re going to contribute to the city’s success,” Pemberti said. “I love the city. I want to see it prosper.”

Contact: 609-272-7222 Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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