Watch video clips, and see our notes and commentary from the recent CRDA meeting of Nov. 21.
City Council of Atlantic City meetings are well-attended. Residents voice their opinions, ask questions, and point fingers during public comment. It often gets quite spirited as taxpayers hold the Mayor and 9 council members accountable for their actions.
But there’s another monthly meeting that rarely attracts more than a few residents. Local AC Councilmen rarely attend. It’s the CRDA board meetings, where millions are doled out and allocated on a regular basis. It’s these meeting where critical decisions are made by 17 board members, most of whom don’t live in Atlantic City.
Why do so few attend these very important CRDA meetings? Inconvenient time of 2pm in the afternoon? Maybe most forget about this poorly promoted meeting? Laziness?
We noted that over the years, members of the City Council of Atlantic City typically don’t attend this monthly CRDA meeting. The current Mayor does, as he’s an official board member. Not sure why the Mayor doesn’t report back to Council with his findings. Why not a summary re-cap of the CRDA meeting agenda and actions taken? Residents need to know this stuff. Residents also need to know that their Mayor & Council members are keeping an eye on the CRDA.
WATCH VIDEO > City Council of Atlantic City needs to participate in the CRDA proceedings if they truly want to take their city back.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, CRDA, on Tuesday, Nov. 21, awarded a $10 million contract to Network Construction of Pleasantville. It’s unknown if local, Atlantic City based contractors bid on the project, or were even considered.
CRDA Executive Director Chris Howard said: “the lobby is outdated, it’s 33 years old. It’s the first thing that people see, and it’s not welcoming. It doesn’t look world class”. Of course, Mr. Howard forgot to mention the dark and dangerous Pacific Ave that’s adjacent to Boardwalk Hall. How can someone enjoy the new lobby when they’re afraid to visit Atlantic City.
CRDA Chairman Mulchahy boasted that spending close to $11 million for Boardwalk Hall upgrades was a ‘major accomplishment’. Mulchahy also made sure to remind those in attendance that this $11 million could only be used to improve Boardwalk Hall and Convention Center. That means we’re gonna get a new lobby, whether we need it or not. Kinda like 20 foot dunes blocking ocean views from the Boardwalk.
CRDA ok’s $10.5 million lobby upgrade at Historic Boardwalk Hall. A new escalator, doors, steps and other questionable expenditures. Chairman Mulcahy says the project is being funded with money that MUST be spent on Boardwalk Hall and the Atlantic City Convention Center.
That $10.5 mil could have been better spent on tax relief, public safety or projects to benefit those who live outside of the tourism district?
Both buildings operate at a loss each year. And are heavily subsidized by the CRDA. Onlookers said this project is not far from installing a sunken boat in the middle of a field.
5 bidders, no one asked who they were. No one asked to see the RFP. (request for proposal)
Chris Howard: A better lobby helps ability to host events, pre & post function events, attract more artists and visitors. This $10.5 million project is not just driven by ROI, return on investment.
75% of project cost is structural upgrades. Doors, stairs, escalator, audio visuals, etc.
Kevin Ortzman, CEO of Caesars Ent Atlantic City, asked Mr. Howard if a ROI analysis was done, in light of this significant capital request. Will this $10mil be used to drive incremental revenue? Ortzman suggested that negative ROI is being achieved.
- Is the facility self-sufficient? Generate enough incremental revenue to offset expense? No.
- Is further subsidy needed to run Boardwalk Hall? Yes.
- Is there better use of those dollars to increase visitation ?
- More shows? Attract more visitors?
Mulchahy defended the investment as a much needed way to make the facility more warmer to come into. Whatever that means. He said the decision followed a priority process. ‘We funded new roof, new bathrooms. But now, Boardwalk Hall needs something more warm.’ Mulchahy wants to make it more patron friendly. Of course, CRDA leadership overlooked surrounding neighborhoods adjacent to Boardwalk Hall that lacked proper lighting and public safety. Pacific Ave needs to be traversed by most attendees of Boardwalk Hall.
The new Boardwalk Hall lobby will enhance the attractiveness of the Boardwalk Hall building said Howard. It will attract more people to AC. (That’s if you can get people to NOT notice the dark and dangerous streets surrounding Boardwalk Hall, specifically this part of Pacific Ave.)
Will more and better artists play Boardwalk Hall because of an upgraded lobby? Uhhhh……no. The current lobby seems totally fine to most.
Local media like the Press of Atlantic City was in attendance. Oddly, they didn’t print any of these awkward, yet revealing discussions.
The CRDA also voted to release & re-allocate $4 million of unused funds. They dumped it all back into a general fund. We bet these monies will be spent before the new Governor is sworn in.
Note: Gilliam is against it. Murphy is for it. North Jersey casinos. Murphy says too much money is going to Atlantic City casinos. A very low tax. IAT’s that often go back to the property. Sports betting is likely coming to NJ. The state Supreme Court will start deciding that in DEC.