You can take the Atlantic City casino away from the developer, but you can’t take the developer out of Atlantic City.
According to an interview with Glenn Straub published in the Press of Atlantic City this week, the Florida-based real estate developer still has some big investments and even bigger plans for America’s Playground.
And this is despite failing to get the $2.4 billion former Revel Casino Hotel reopened, or making any friends in the local government or Casino Control Commission while trying.
Straub and Revel and TEN and Ocean Resort Casino
Straub bought Revel out of bankruptcy for just $82 million in 2015. Later that year he bought the power plant that supplied the property for $30 million and made promises to reopen the hotel and casino under the name TEN.
However, he spent the next two nears breaking those promises. Straub missed several reopening dates and argued vehemently with the city and Casino Control Commission over his need to obtain a casino license.
Straub ultimately sold the property and the plant to Colorado developer Bruce Deifik in January 2018 for $229 million, making a tidy profit.
As part of the sale to Deifik, he also held on to the rights to various parking fees that will see him collect $1.50 for every car parked in the garage beginning in 2021. The fee will also increase to $4 a car in 2028. Apparently, Straub will retain those parking fees for a period of 99 years.
Deifik managed to reopen the property, now called Ocean Resort Casino, on June 28, less than six months after buying it.
However, Straub, 71, told the Press of Atlantic City he still has a hand in it:
“We’ll be involved, I’ll say that much. We’ll be involved for 99 years.”
Straub’s other Atlantic City properties
Plus, the Press of Atlantic City says tax records show Straub’s company, Polo North Country Club LLC, still has some major interests around Atlantic City.
These include 43 parcels of land in the South Inlet, including three Atlantic City Boardwalk properties and multiple plots of land on Rhode Island and Metropolitan avenues close to Ocean Resort Casino.
Straub also claims his company owns at least 50 percent of 20 foreclosed Atlantic City properties. Plus, he has his eye on the city’s vacant Bader Field airfield. Straub told the Press he is willing to put close to $70 million into that property.
Two years ago, the city put the airfield up for auction with a reserved bid of $155 million. It drew two bids of $50 million or less that were rejected.
Last year, the Atlantic City Council authorized the issue of a request for proposals to purchase and redevelop the property.
However, Council President Marty Small Sr. said the $70 million Straub is talking about is hardly enough for what he calls a prime piece of real estate.
Same old Straub song?
In fact, Small doubts Straub’s sincerity:
“We heard this before.”
Straub told the Press of Atlantic City he hasn’t talked to anyone at the city or state about Bader Field. However, he blames that on the confusion regarding who he should be talking to, created by the state takeover in 2016:
“You can’t talk to one group, like the city, and turn around and find out the state is making all the decisions. That’s hampering any kind of development that we would be putting into the city.”
Small said Straub’s confusion sounds disingenuous:
“The city is open for business. We’ll always be open for business. But only for the right opportunity, and right now, we don’t see that opportunity. And Mr. Straub, this isn’t our first time at the dance with him. If he’s serious about doing business with the City of Atlantic City, he absolutely knows who to contact.”
Whether Straub knows what the next step is in the redevelopment of Bader Field, or if he will take it, is anyone’s guess.
However, one thing is for sure: His business with Ocean Resort Casino, and Atlantic City, is far from finished.