The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) has scheduled an auction of 24 packages that include 95 excess Atlantic City properties. The properties reside in a variety of residential and commercial zoning districts.
Max Spann Real Estate and Auction Co. has scheduled the auction for 1 p.m. March 28 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
“These properties include some fantastic assemblages that the CRDA has put together,” said Bob Dann, head auctioneer for Max Spann to the Press of Atlantic City. “With Stockton University, The Hard Rock and Ocean Resorts Casino [sic] all about to open, it is an exciting time in Atlantic City.”
The takeover of Atlantic City
Atlantic City’s economy crashed in 2007 at the same time the US economy was beginning its downward spiral. Atlantic City’s problems stem from extremely high taxes. Most of the tax burden fell to the casinos, eventually leading to the closing of five NJ casinos.
Since the fall of 2016, Atlantic City’s finances have been under state control. Gov. Phil Murphy has publicly stated his support of ending the state’s takeover of Atlantic City.
There is no official plan from the Murphy administration to return Atlantic City to local control just yet. Murphy, however, recently appointed special lead counsel, Jim Johnson, to review the takeover.
It is unclear what Johnson’s new role means for Atlantic City, but knowing Murphy’s administration has made Atlantic City a priority is a good sign for the city.
The revitalization of Atlantic City
There is no dispute that it is in everyone’s best interest to return the management of Atlantic City to local control. The revitalization of the city is necessary for that to happen. And this CRDA auction supports those revitalization efforts.
The auction, which will raise much-needed funds, will also breathe new life into abandoned properties. Chris Howard, executive director of the CRDA said as much to the Press earlier this week.
“We are offering these properties to the public in a live auction. With several major projects now underway, it makes sense to offer these properties to individuals who share our excitement about Atlantic City’s rebirth.”
The rebirth that Howard is talking about starts with two new casinos scheduled to open this year.
Hard Rock Atlantic City is renovating the Taj Mahal and was just approved to build a beach bar between Maryland Avenue and Steel Pier. And Ocean Resort Casino is taking over the former Revel Casino property with more than $175 million in renovations taking place.
Both properties are on track to open in the summer of 2018, just in time for those busy months on the Boardwalk.
New casinos add both excitement and concern
There is undoubtedly excitement around the arrival of the new kids on the Boardwalk. The CRDA auction stems from that excitement for sure. New competition doesn’t necessarily mean increased revenues though.
It’s too early to know whether the new properties will draw more people in or just spread the revenue around. And there is another possibility. Another round of closings could result as the weaker casinos lose their piece of pie in the battle for customers.
There is one thing we can count on: All eyes will be on the Atlantic City casino scene during the second half of the year.
CRDA auction a hopeful sign
The live auction later this month is open to the public. An information session about the planned auction was already held March 7. The CRDA will hold another information session for interested buyers on March 14. The session will be held from 12-2 p.m at the authority’s South Pennsylvania Avenue offices.
In the end, it’s good to see the momentum finally swinging in Atlantic City’s favor. The auction is another step forward to bringing new life into the once robust East Coast casino scene.