You can look at it one of two ways.
Either the recent property auction by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) in Atlantic City was a modest payday for a hodgepodge of properties. Or it was meant to further stimulate an economic rebirth for the city.
In the auction last week, the CRDA netted $574,000 from the sale of 92 properties. But according to multiple reports, the CRDA’s decision was a move to “get properties on the tax roll” and allow developers to borrow, build, and bring additional business into the city’s fold.
In an interview with the Press of Atlantic City, CRDA Executive Director Christopher Howard says it was perfect timing:
“It’s just the right time for us to do this. There’s a lot of excitement in the city, a lot of great projects coming in. So it’s a good time for us to unload some of these (properties), get them back on the tax rolls and encourage further development.”
New properties bring new opportunities to Atlantic City
The concept behind selling off more than 90 properties is simple: development. With these new chunks of land available, there are more than 90 chances to build residential, commercial, or mixed-use facilities, permits, and regulations pending.
Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co. ran the auction. Spann had the following to say about the importance of an influx of new properties in the burgeoning city:
“We’re starting to see places that have been in decline all of a sudden have renewed interest (and) younger people wanting to come here. I think it’s great on a bunch of different levels.”
He also noted that there’s a national movement to move back into urban areas, a trend that’s showing up in Atlantic City as developers seek to buy up AC property.
A study from research firm Grayline confirms this, noting that there has been a consistent increase in urban living versus rural living (outside urban areas). North America is the most urbanized continent in the world.
Atlantic City continues post-contraction rise
All this news of development, growth, and new casinos is a narrative standing in stark opposition to the doomsday headlines that splattered across newspapers like angsty tears.
Five casinos closed in New Jersey in 2014, paring down AC’s gambling epicenters from 12 to seven, a number that still stands today.
The following three years were a bitter stew of a $500 million debt owed to creditors, a decreased credit reading, and 2016-2017 city budget debate that ended with the state takeover of Atlantic City’s finances. Atlantic City was on the verge of becoming the first city in the state to declare bankruptcy since the Great Depression.
Since that takeover, however, the city’s financial situation has progressed, starting with a settlement with Borgata over a tax debt owed to the casino by the city.
In addition to that initial win, the city’s credit rating went up and two new casinos are slated to open this summer. Ocean Resort Casino and Hard Rock Atlantic City may just be the start, especially now that the CRDA has sold 92 properties.
Perhaps it is time for an economic rebirth in Atlantic City.