The hats will soon be thrown in the ring. Thursday’s announcement from Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small about the forthcoming demolition of Trump Plaza launched speculation about future plans.
Who will become the new owner? How will this centerpiece of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk be used?
Even Small said he did not know how it should be utilized yet. The end of a gaming establishment points to non-gaming use of this space, but that depends upon who takes over.
Most casinos already bring marquee items like high-end restaurants, Top Golf, and sportsbooks inside their doors.
So, what should this be?
Here are five possible options to replace Trump Plaza, focusing both on the concepts and the ideas they will eventually produce. Some are serious, some fun, some whimsical.
There will be more coming later from entrepreneurs, investors, and city officials, but this is the first day the suggestions count.
1. Build from within
Mark Callazzo, the Economic Impact Award recipient from the Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce last year, endorses enhanced infrastructure.
Building an identity through city neighborhoods and businesses will create a destination area in the heart of Atlantic City, he believes.
“What I would want to put on the Plaza is a combination of proper amenities and housing,” Callazzo told NJGamblingSites. “You could have a mixed-use development of bars and restaurants on the first floor and apartments on the second floor.
“We don’t need another hotel. We don’t need more attractions. What we need are more people, which means you have to make them want to live here. You have to give them the bars, the restaurants, the salons, the yoga establishments, etc.”
Callazzo added that a benefit of mixed-use development to replace Trump Plaza comes down to money.
“If you bring more taxpayers here, you not only grow your base but you bring entrepreneurs who employ others. You bring people who invent things. That will change the city.
You will also create more amenities to bring people here in the first place and that’s going to help your casinos.”
2. Follow the Orange Loop
One example of his vision occurs in the northern end of Atlantic City, which includes Tennessee Avenue.
It is a unique collection of restaurants, bars, live music areas, coffee, and a yoga establishment, among others. It resembles a city concept of people able to stroll from business to business.
In this case, the Loop is also near casino properties.
Callazzo, along with help from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) spearheaded The Orange Loop. The name comes from the orange deed color of Tennessee Avenue in the game Monopoly.
It has entirely transformed the area.
“This block has become something of a phenomenon,” former Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam said when a signature property, Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall, opened in 2018.
“About a year ago, this area was the zombie land.”
Starting with the beach block of Tennessee Avenue and expanding into St. James Place and New York Avenues, the Orange Loop brought an identity to a dormant part of Atlantic City.
The Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall sports more than 100 beers, lunch and dinner, an outdoor patio with a bar and fire pit. It has become a millennial hot spot.
Inside, it has giant-screen televisions. During the NFL betting season, it was also packed with gamblers wagering on their NJ sportsbook apps.
Could this concept be brought to the middle of Atlantic City on a larger scale? That creates the next point.
3. Open-air splendor where Trump Plaza once stood
Callazzo considers the Piazza in Philadelphia, which he termed “almost its own self-contained city,” an excellent use of midtown space.
Atlantic City would have plenty of it with the dismantling of the centrally-located Trump Plaza.
The Piazza is designed and named after Rome’s famous piazzas, giving Philadelphia natives and visitors a new place to gather outside.
It is a beautifully landscaped, 80,000-square-foot, open-air plaza, surrounded by three buildings. It is home to restaurants, markets, and boutiques.
The Piazza includes an 800-square-foot stage and a high-definition, 400-square-foot Daktoniks LED screen, making the space jump with activity all year long.
Add that dynamic in the vicinity of casinos and what happens? Foot traffic.
4. Think millennial. And adult.
About 30 miles south of Atlantic City, a Stone Harbor entrepreneur plans to unveil a high-end putting course (par 57), along with a simulator area that gives patrons the feel of playing over 100 classic courses.
There is also food, a BYOB, and delivery service. You can spend four hours there if you want. Dinner, drinks, and a few mulligans, a good night out.
That can be done here.
Golf simulation is fairly popular, especially indoors during the winter. Ocean Casino boasts Top Golf when it opened in 2018, and it is still a hit.
Shovel the driveway, then go play Pebble Beach.
5. Bring on the music venue
Not just music, but reasonably high-end acts, especially during the summer and in shoulder seasons. Think about a series on a consistent night.
Granted, the Atlantic City casinos themselves hoast a variety of acts and events. But the bulk of those occurs in the summer. Plan for a music series at an indoor hall during the winter and you have the beginnings of something big.
And here’s an honorable mention that ties in nicely with the family-friendly indoor water park planned next to the Showboat.
How about a nice big bowling alley somewhere in this mix? After all, the Showboat doesn’t have one anymore.