The South Inlet of the Atlantic City boardwalk is changing quickly, for better or worse.
It all adds up to a different dynamic for that part of Atlantic City.
The South Inlet, resurgent or backsliding?
Before the news that the Taj would close its doors next month, there were hopes that the South Inlet would lead a resurgence for that section of the beleaguered city. That was also the narrative when the $2.4 billion Revel opened, before quickly closing in 2014.
Now? There are three properties in the area that are in varying states. And things are again looking gloomy for that part of AC.
The Press of Atlantic City took an in-depth look at the South Inlet:
“It’s ironic,” Mayor Don Guardian said. “Everyone said that it was going to become the center of the city.”
Showboat owner Bart Blatstein and Revel owner Glenn Straub “almost have to rise up together to create a little density on that end of the Boardwalk,” said Bryant Simon, a professor of history at Temple University and the author of “Boardwalk of Dreams: Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America.”
“Emptiness is not why we love cities,” he said.
Taj Mahal, definitely closing?
It’s not yet a guarantee that the Trump Taj Mahal shuts down operations.
A month-long strike prompted billionaire Carl Icahn to announce that he wouldn’t keep the doors open, with plans to shutter the property in October.
There are at least some — the union behind the workers that are striking included — that believe it could just be a giant game of chicken to take away the union’s leverage.
The Unite Here Local 54 protested outside of Icahn’s offices in New York City this week.
Obviously, if the Taj doesn’t close, that changes things for the other two nearby properties.
Where’s that leave Showboat?
The business plan for the Showboat was never likely to be on a figurative island on the South Inlet of AC.
The property is planning to only offer hotel rooms, entertainment, and other amenities. Gambling isn’t in the plans, right now; however, if it is bought by a new owner, that could be in the cards. (Currently, there is a deed restriction on the property, but the NJ legislature could move to lift it.)
Shuttered properties on either side of Showboat does not appear to be ideal. In reality, it means there could be no gambling on that section of the boardwalk unless you travel to Resorts. (There is no casino at Showboat, no reopening or gambling license at Revel in the near future, and the planned Taj closure.)
So while Showboat might benefit a bit from a decrease in supply of hotel rooms in the form of the Taj closure, the problems in the South Inlet are not good for business long term.
Plans probably move forward for adding more features to the Showboat — and for reopening Revel — but the resurgence some hoped for in that part of AC could be stymied.