Hard Rock NJ Casino Plans Gas Station In Taj Redevelopment Plans

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in New Jersey is now planning to open a gas station as part of its redevelopment of the defunct Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

When Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City opens its doors in 2018, it plans to offer more than just gambling, entertainment, and food and drink.

The property also hopes to be able to give its patrons the opportunity to fill their tanks with gas.

According to The Press of Atlantic City, Hard Rock International has filed plans with New Jersey’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) to open a gas station as a part of its redevelopment of the now-closed Trump Taj Mahal. The Rockstop Gas & Wash will be located at the corner of Pacific and Virginia avenues.

What’s in store at The Rockstop Gas & Wash

The Rockstop Gas & Wash at the Hard Rock Casino in NJ would include gas pumps, a car wash, and a convenience store.

The company, after all, is no stranger to the gas station business, having opened one at its Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield, Ohio, this past June.

Hard Rock International partnered with local property developers The Morris Family and construction and energy developers The Jingoli Family to buy the shuttered $1.2 billion Trump Taj Mahal earlier this year for $50 million.

The group immediately announced plans for a $375 million renovation and rebranding, the price of which has now ballooned to $500 million.

Hard Rock NJ Casino plans summer 2018 opening

Hard Rock had originally set Memorial Day Weekend 2018 as its opening date. But in November, the company announced it would open its Atlantic City casino in summer 2018.

Plans include a completely redesigned interior and a casino with more than 2,400 slots and 130 table games. Hard Rock is also promising first-class food and beverage options — all part of a plan that would see the NJ casino become the go-to entertainment destination in Atlantic City.

Now, it will also include a gas station at the property that was once dubbed “the eighth wonder of the world” by its former owner, US President Donald Trump.

“The gas station is just one of many exciting things to come,” Jingoli and Morris spokesperson Liz Thomas told The Press of Atlantic City. “We’re so pleased to partner with Hard Rock during this renaissance in Atlantic City that wouldn’t be happening without the cooperation and support of the state of New Jersey.”

The CRDA Land Use Division is expected to review the plans for the gas station during a hearing Dec. 21.

Hard Rock continues to expand its properties

Hard Rock International already operates restaurants, hotels, and casinos in 74 countries. This includes 174 cafes, 24 hotels, and 11 casinos.

In addition to the new hotel and casino in Atlantic City, the company is planning to open new Hard Rock Cafe locations in Valencia, Innsbruck, Yangon and Chengdu. Plus, it has plans for new Hard Rock Hotel projects in Abu Dhabi, Atlanta, Berlin, Dubai, London, Los Cabos, New York City, and Shenzhen, Dalian and Haikou in China.

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Which Will Open First: Hard Rock Atlantic City Or TEN/Revel?

In one corner, we have the former Trump Taj Mahal. In the other, we have the shuttered TEN, formerly Revel. Which New Jersey casino will reopen sooner?

In one corner, we have the former Trump Taj Mahal. In the other, we have the shuttered TEN, formerly Revel.

Which Atlantic City resort will reopen first? Our oddsmakers have been handicapping this showdown of closed casinos in NJ.

Hard Rock AC: Summer of 2018?

By all accounts, the former Trump Taj Mahal will open in the middle of next year. Hard Rock International bought the shuttered casino resort earlier this year, after it closed its doors in the fall of 2016. The company immediately revealed its plans to turn the Taj into an inviting and up-to-date resort, much like its other destination properties.

While the schedule can obviously suffer setbacks — it already has — the project has a lot going for it in terms of opening quickly.

  • Hard Rock is experienced with getting resorts up and running. It has set its intentions, and it’s unlikely to miss the mark by much, unless it encounters serious problems.
  • It’s not like Hard Rock was reinventing the wheel when it bought the Taj. The structure was already sound; it just needed a remodel and to be brought up to speed with the Hard Rock brand and feel.
  • If Hard Rock wants to open in 2018 it really ought to do it for peak season; otherwise, it would probably have just made more sense to take its time and wait for early 2019.

So we have a pretty good idea of when Hard Rock will open. But we have far less insight about what’s going on down the Boardwalk.

TEN/Revel: Who knows?

The drawn-out saga that is TEN — formerly Revel — is pretty well-known already.

The gleaming AC property built for billions closed down soon after it was built. While the property was bought for pennies on the dollar soon thereafter, it’s sat vacant ever since.

But of late, there has been a lot of chatter that current owner Glenn Straub would be selling to a new company, one that might actually think about reopening TEN. In November, there were signs that a sale was moving forward, although that has not yet been confirmed.

If a sale actually did happen, TEN/Revel — or whatever the new owners call the resort — would also likely be able to open quickly. The property doesn’t need much — if anything — in the way of remodeling. The big needs would be branding and staffing.

But counting TEN as actually being sold is still a dicey matter. And the longer it takes for the sale to go through, the longer it is until a prospective opening.

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Conclusion: Put your money on Hard Rock

If we had a completed sale of TEN on the horizon, it would be a favorite to beat Hard Rock to an official opening. But given the backstory of the troubled resort, we definitely can’t count on anything until it’s out of Straub’s hands.

That’s why the stable, international company with definitive plans is the current heavy favorite to open up its NJ casino first.

Hard Rock Is On Pace To Open Its Atlantic City Casino In Summer 2018

Hard Rock International announced this past week the firm’s Atlantic City, New Jersey casino and hotel is still scheduled to open in the summer of 2018.

This past week, Hard Rock International (HRI) announced via a marquee sign on its construction site that its much-anticipated Atlantic City hotel and casino will open next summer.

Should the property hit this deadline, Atlantic City will enjoy a summer of rejuvenation. Perhaps the sour memories of the Trump Taj Mahal will finally be put to rest.

“The newly reimagined Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will be a destination within a destination, bringing visitors from across the world together to celebrate music and party like lead singers on world tour,” said Hard Rock’s website regarding the forthcoming property.

Taj property, existing Hard Rock cafe renovations

HRI has big plans for the former Taj as well as the company’s current Hard Rock Cafe on The Boardwalk.

The hotel’s rooms and vehicle turnaround will undergo “a completed renovation,” according to HRI. The property will feature updated meeting spaces to suit both big conventions and more intimate special events.

The Hard Rock casino will feature 2,400 slot machines and 130 table games, as well as a completely redesigned interior. According to HRI, the Hard Rock Cafe will get an upgraded event space, featuring a new stage and 400 seats.

HRI bought the Taj for $375 million after closure

By some measure, the Hard Rock’s future began in July 2016 when the Taj’s union workers went on strike after billionaire owner Carl Icahn refused to renegotiate vacation pay, health insurance, and sick-day benefits set during the casino’s 2014 bankruptcy proceedings.

Bleeding money and becoming an optics nightmare, the Taj closed in October 2016.

Around five months later, it was announced HRI bought the property for $375 million. To many, the purchase signaled the resurrection of a city beleaguered by financial woes that began in 2014 when five casinos closed.

Early estimates indicated the construction for the $500 million renovation would create 1,000 temporary jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs. At sale time, HRI provided details about the extent of the renovations, saying the opening target date was Memorial Day 2018.

That deadline has been pushed back, something that’s certainly not a surprise considering all the moving parts involved in performing a New Jersey casino renovation. HRI’s summer deadline should be taken seriously if for no other reason than the company’s vocal desire to lead the way in Atlantic City’s rebirth.

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Taj Facade Demo Underway, But The Liquidation Auction Steals Spotlight

Earlier this month Hard Rock began demolition on the Taj Mahal New Jersey casino facade, sparking a pre-demo auction of various Taj Casino furnishings.

The transformation of the former Trump Taj Mahal has begun with a vengeance.

Earlier this month, Hard Rock International began demolition of the property’s iconic facade as it enters the early stages of a $500 million renovation.

Joseph Jingoli, one of the investors in the Hard Rock deal, told the Press of Atlantic City the demo is the crucial first step in a long process.

“This is extremely important to us,” Jingoli was quoted as saying. “What we are doing is building a state of the art entertainment complex, casino and hotel and having the support of the CRDA in the Entertainment District is going to allow us do more to the project.”

While the demo job is newsworthy, it was the auction that took place before the demolition that created the most buzz.

Liquidation of the NJ casino steals the demo’s thunder

Before Hard Rock’s contractors could start to dismantle the property’s facade, they had to get rid of everything inside the iconic building.

To do that, they set up a public auction in which anyone could come in and bid on items from chandeliers to side tables, headboards to minor bits of decor.

The auction began June 6 and was run by National Content Liquidators (NCL). Bidders were able to visit NCL’s website before the event and check out what was for sale. Single items were listed on the site as well as room packages that started at $289.

The “King Room Package,” for example, included the following items from an actual King room in the Taj:

  • Complete pillow-top bed
  • Four-drawer chest
  • Two nightstands
  • Table lamp
  • Writing desk
  • Desk lamp
  • Desk chair
  • Two side chairs
  • Game table
  • Three pieces of art
  • Mirror

For an extra $90, NCL would throw in a 32-inch flat-screen TV.

$500 million renovation to include hallmark Hard Rock touches

In less than a year, the Taj has transitioned from a cantankerous labor strike, to closing its doors, to a state resurrection thanks to Hard Rock International.

In April, the famous hospitality group announced it had purchased the New Jersey casino and had plans for a $375 million renovation. That number jumped to $500 million earlier this summer.

The project will create thousands of jobs and will result in the renovation of every single guest room as well as numerous upgrades to the casino floor, the vehicle entrance, and several other facets of the property.

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Taj Sale Price Made Public: Hard Rock Paid $50 Million For Shuttered NJ Casino Property

It has been revealed that Hard Rock International paid $50 million for the closed Taj Mahal New Jersey casino. It plans to reopen the AC hotel next summer.

The truth has come out.

Headlines from New Jersey to California crowed about US Securities and Exchange Commission filings that revealed Hard Rock International paid $50 million for the Trump Taj Mahal. The price was a stunner, considering that Taj was built for $1.2 billion. It opened in 1990.

An AP article in the Los Angeles Times about the price tag had what could be considered the best headline of them all: “Trump Taj Mahal casino sold for 4 cents on the dollar.”

When asked by the Press of Atlantic City about his thoughts on the sale, Drexel University hospitality expert Robert Ambrose told the paper the deal “seems fair.” He remarked that “the new operators will be putting forward a tremendous amount of money subsequently raising the property value and its new marketing potential.”

The Taj’s slow death: From Trump to Icahn

When the Trump Taj Mahal opened in 1900, Donald Trump famously declared the New Jersey casino and hotel as the eighth wonder of the world.

Whatever glory the iconic property had started to fade in 2009, when Trump gave up most of this stake in the property.

Taj Casino almost closed in 2014

Five years later, the casino was begging for life amid Atlantic City’s notorious 2014 casino contraction.

At stake was the casino’s open doors. The crux of the struggle was the inability of the casino’s owners to reach and agreement with labor union UNITE HERE Local 54.

The casino was scheduled to close near the end of December and proceed with bankruptcy court. But Tropicana owner Carl Icahn swooped in with an influx of cash and kept the Taj’s doors open.

Though Icahn served as a bit of a savior at the end of 2014, he quickly established himself as a hard-nosed opponent of an increased benefits package for the Taj’s employees.

Icahn takes over, battles union

The next two years included numerous spats between Icahn and UNITE HERE

One of the most notorious chapters in the Taj’s drama was an open letter Icahn wrote titled, “To the Local 54 Employees of the Trump Taj Mahal”.

Here’s an excerpt from that letter:

“UNITE HERE is a driving force behind a dysfunctional system that enriches those in power to the detriment of its own members. In Atlantic City, they have contributed to the precipitous downfall and closure of one-third of the casinos, which has resulted in a devastating loss of employment for so many of your brethren in that city.”

Taj closes in 2016

The union continued to battle Icahn. It demanded to have benefits its workers enjoyed before the judge overseeing bankruptcy proceedings in 2014 cut back workers’ benefits to keep the business afloat.

Icahn refused to relent and on July 1, 2016, the union went on strike. Unlike other owners in the city, Icahn didn’t give in. Ultimately, it cost him his casino.

The Taj closed in October and earlier this year, Hard Rock International announced it would buy the beleaguered property. The Hard Rock announcement finally brought to a close one of the most controversial years in the property’s history.

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Can Hard Rock Lead Atlantic City To Becoming An Every-Day-Of-The-Week Destination?

Atlantic City desperately wants to be more than a destination only on weekends. Hard Rock AC hopes to make that dream a reality.

When you visit Las Vegas, it’s usually packed on the weekends. But there’s also plenty of people filling up the hotels, dining at restaurants, and gambling on the casino floors on weekdays.

That is definitely not the case in Atlantic City, especially in the offseason; it’s generally a weekends-only attraction.

But the city would desperately like to change that reality and characterization, and Hard Rock International wants to lead the way.

Hard Rock wants to change the culture of AC

When Hard Rock bought the Trump Taj Mahal this year, it didn’t do so with small intentions. And it didn’t shell out money for a property that was making money on just 52 weekends a year.

It plans on spending $375 million on the property and renovations, tearing the outdated property to its studs and bringing it into the 21st century.

More from the Press of AC on the plans of Hard Rock chairman Jim Allen:

“Unfortunately, I have a tremendous respect for our competitors in town, but Atlantic City has turned into a one-and-a-half-night town,” Allen said.

 

Allen said Hard Rock has the “the entertainment power” to bring in acts that will draw crowds not just on weekends but midweek as well.

 

He wants to have Hard Rock lead the way in developing a seven-days-a-week economy in the city, something the city and its tourism groups have sought to achieve in the past few years through conferences and midweek events.

Whether Hard Rock Casino & Hotel Atlantic City can live up to those lofty expectations when it opens in 2018, however, remains to be seen.

AC becoming more than a “weekend-only” destination?

Once upon a time, AC was thought to have everything needed to be just that for the long-haul. But along the way, that dream wasn’t realized.

Hard Rock’s plans are certainly a good start to turning AC into an all-days-of-the-week destination. a la Las Vegas. There will undoubtedly be entertainment options available — including midweek — that aren’t in AC now. But there needs to be more than just that.

Revitalizing the Boardwalk, at a minimum, would be a great first step:

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AC can become more, but it will take time

AC hit rock bottom in 2014, when a number of resorts closed up shop. There have been a lot of good developments early in 2017, but to expect everything to be rainbows and unicorns immediately would be foolhardy.

Hard Rock’s plans to draw more midweek customers is a start. But AC won’t evolve into more than a weekend destination overnight.

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