Is Bart Blatstein grabbing up too much Atlantic City Boardwalk property? The Philly developer desperate for an AC win, is now trying to acquire both Garden Pier and an adjacent lot along the Boardwalk.
Oddly, Garden Pier & the adjacent volleyball court were not part of recent auctions held by the City. These two prime properties could soon be added to Blatstein’s growing portfolio that includes the re-launched Showboat Hotel and Playground Pier at Caesars.
Blatstein reports that he wants to create an “event and entertainment center” on the old volleyball court, located at New Jersey Ave and the Boardwalk. Opponents of Blatstein’s so-called land grab suggest that before Bart builds another music/ entertainment destination, he should utilize the former House of Blues venue inside of his Showboat Hotel.
Will Blatstein Re-Open Former House Of Blues Venue in Atlantic City?
Why didn’t Atlantic City auction off Garden Pier and the former Volleyball court?
Garden Pier has been home to the Atlantic City Historical Museum and Art Center. As of August 6, those two attractions have been shuttered.
Blatstein claims he wants the 100 year old Garden Pier to become an entertainment destination with art, music and food. Sounds admirable til you realize that’s exactly what he wanted to do with his struggling Playground Pier. Three of Playground Pier’s music attractions have already stalled or are currently closed. The 39 North concert hall, WAV nightclub, and T-Street only lasted a few months before being shut down due to lack of attendance.
Mr. Blatstein has also floated the idea of a luxury ocean front hotel on Garden Pier. Highly unlikely when you consider Bart already has a hotel, it’s called Showboat. This Mardi Gras themed property is not exactly a thriving business….yet. Zero advertising has kept visitors in the dark about the lovely yet sparse accommodations at the Showboat Hotel. Lack of marketing is also the main culprit behind Playground Pier’s stealth existence.
Is Blatstein good for Atlantic City, or just a vulture investor looking to flip properties?
Is Blatstein a vulture investor, taking advantage of bankruptcies and fire-sale prices that will allow for a substantial profit when ‘flipped’ in the future? That’s what many observers have wondered as they look at Blatstein’s track record in Atlantic City so far. In the beginning, tenants were enthusiastic with Bart’s plans and energy. See Playground Pier tenant testimonials here.
Playground Pier, formerly The Pier At Caesars has upscale shopping, bars & restaurants. It does not have a dedicated parking lot. It’s neighbor, Caesars, does nothing to help that situation. Can ya blame them?
Caesars still owns the 300,000-square-foot pier complex. Blatstein can be described as a sub-landlord.
According to The Press of Atlantic City, Caesars was not happy with how Blatstein’s company, Pier Renaissance, LP, took possession of the Pier’s lease in November of 2014. As the owner of the property, Caesars says they had to approve all lease transfers. That approval was never given.
Caesars president; Kevin Ortzman, filed a lawsuit claiming that Blatstein had illegally acquired the lease from a Delaware-based entity. Blatstein disagreed and threatened to “drag this out in court and suck all of the money dry from the Pier.” Blatstein said his purchase of the tenant leases brought stability to the shops inside the triple-tiered pier, which is ultimately owned by Caesars. Ortzman saw it differently:
“I personally met with Blatstein on February 10, 2015 … in that meeting Blatstein made clear his intentions concerning his illegal use of the property. Among other comments Blatstein stated to me, ‘You can’t win and I can’t lose.’ Blatstein went on to threaten, ‘I’ll drag this out in court and suck all of the money dry from the Pier and you’ll be left with nothing.’ Blatstein further threatened that ‘I’ll get my money back and you’ll still end up with nothing.’ Additionally, Blatstein stated ‘I’ll blast you in the Press as uncooperative to a ‘hero’ trying to save Atlantic City — [Caesars will] lose in the court of public opinion.”
Read more at PhillyMag.com