CRDA Sets Record Straight About Atlantic City Development

CRDA-logo-edit-300x297The CRDA; Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, released the following statement today:

The opinion letter to the editor below, was prepared in response to several misleading statements made by the city (City of Atlantic City) and press outlets in connection with the lots owned by the CRDA. The chairman and I want the facts to prevail as information regarding property we own is presented to the public. I hope the letter makes clear our role as redeveloper and catalyst for public/private sector investment in projects and activities city-wide. Thank you.  John F. Palmieri, Executive Director, NJ Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

As Atlantic City’s economic recovery continues, dramatic new positive developments are book ending both ends of the famed Boardwalk at one end, AC Devco’s Stockton University campus and South Jersey Gas headquarters, and in the South Inlet, Boraie Corporation’s market rate housing project, the first such residential rental development in a generation.

The engine behind this revitalization is the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. The CRDA’s ability to acquire, assemble, remediate and package property to leverage private investment continues to produce new local jobs, opportunities and revenues for residents.

However, misinformation published by media outlets about CRDA properties in Atlantic City seems to have entered the public domain. Let’s set the record straight: The CRDA owns 111 total acres in Atlantic City. Only 8.5 of those acres are currently suitable for development.

For more perspective, 70 of the CRDA’s 111 total acres are already developed including Tanger Outlets, which pays an in-lieu-of-tax payment to the City.

Boardwalk  Hall, the Convention Center, the Wave Garage and Lighthouse Park make up that balance. Another 32 acres are used as much-needed parking lots or are undersized, unbuildable remnants from road widening and other projects that provide economic impact for the area.

Perhaps there are some potential small redevelopment opportunities with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority parking lots, and the CRDA Board will consider all options. Of the eight-plus acres suitable for development, the CRDA has assembled three of those in the South Inlet for a future proposal from a developer.

Further, the intimation that if the CRDA paid taxes the City would realize a potential windfall is simply not supported by the facts. As evidenced by its past portfolio, the CRDA is effective in assembling land for private development projects that add revenue generating properties to the City’s tax rolls.

When one reviews the facts objectively, the CRDA’s current land holdings are insignificant to the overall fiscal recovery plan for Atlantic City.

The  develop-able land that the CRDA is making available for economic development  projects will only help the City realize a more diversified and stable economy in the near term. Also, if one considers the facts, beyond its traditional development activities, the CRDA has invested over $1 billion in the City, including, supporting projects that are traditionally funded through municipal taxes, such as, street and sidewalk cleaning, park maintenance, street repaving, road widening, public safety grants and, most recently, the addition of Class II police officers.

Lost in some recent reports of a ”fix” for Atlantic City is the record of recent progress.

Atlantic City’s share of the lucrative corporate meeting market is growing. The CRDA helped finance the new conference centers at Harrah’s and Resorts that are generating new business and therefore more visiting consumers.

Work is underway on the new Stockton University campus and South Jersey Gas Industries headquarters in the Chelsea neighborhood and the new Beach at South Inlet market rate housing.

The city is safer and cleaner, with new lighting, new parks and funding for a new communications system for the police. The Tourism District’s principle artery, Pacific Avenue, has been repaved.

Of  course every interested party recognizes that sacrifice will be needed from many sources for Atlantic City’s  finances to be stabilized. Indeed, the CRDA participating in dramatic fashion in the fiscal recovery plan.

As the new state legislation becomes effective, tens of millions in Investment Alternative Tax revenue will be diverted from the CRDA to the City every year going forward, providing invaluable debt relief for the City.

If by some magical force the remaining undeveloped land the CRDA owns was given to the city and it was auctioned off at its assessed valuable virtual uncertainty-the “windfall” to the city would be de-minimus in the face of its current crisis.

It is reasonable to explore many options and possible alternatives, but distorting reality or raising false hopes are counterproductive in public policy making,

The record is clear: The best use of CRDA’s public mandate is to acquire, assemble, re-mediate and prepare land for development.

John F. Palmieri

Robert E. Mulcahy, III

Since 1984, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has invested over $1.8 billion in over 400 projects across the state.  In Atlantic City alone, the CRDA have invested over $1.5 billion with nearly $750 million since 2011.

The only agency of its kind nationwide – the CRDA uses casino reinvestments as a catalyst for meaningful, positive improvement in the lives of New Jersey residents statewide.  In doing so, the CRDA has dramatically and positively altered Atlantic City’s residential, commercial, cultural, and social landscape, while financially supporting quality-of-life improvement efforts throughout the State of New Jersey.

The CRDA began with a substantial commitment to housing in Atlantic City.  Over the years, the CRDA has invested over $350 million in housing and neighborhood development, and built more than 1,500 housing units throughout the city.