Is Atlantic City finally coming back? To some, it looks that way based on stabilized gaming revenues. To others, maybe we should curb our enthusiasm a bit. Crime and urban blight still plague our AC neighborhoods, just steps away from the big box casinos on the Boardwalk.
As Atlantic City is split in two, tourism district and non-tourism district, it’s important to understand exactly why that’s happening and what’s likely to happen to America’s Playground moving forward.
Let’s look at some good stuff first. By Memorial Day 2018, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will open at the spot TAJ MAHAL once occupied. The project should bring 1,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs.
By August of 2018, the completed Gateway Project will deliver a new HQ for South Jersey Gas, and a shiny new Stockton University campus and parking garage.
After 30+ years of ignoring this classic asset, the newly elongated Boardwalk should boost the economic conditions of Atlantic City’s Inlet section. The new wooden way will allow thousands to traverse from Margate all the way to another neglected jewel of Atlantic City, Gardner’s Basin.
Watch for the potential of Jared Kushner’s prime acreage at Caspian Point, once connected to classic properties like Starn’s, Garwood Mills, the bus depot and Hackney’s.
The city’s reliance on a single industry, casino gaming, allowed assets like portions of the Boardwalk to become blight, fall into disrepair, which dragged down home values, hurt retail, and pushed up crime stats.
Seth Grossman, Executive Director at Liberty and Prosperity says this in a social media post: “as long as Atlantic City government and public schools have a $600 million debt for a city of 40,000, with 65% of properties exempt from paying this money back, there will never be a real recovery. Almost everybody seems to know this except for the “experts” running state and local government.”
As the State of NJ literally splits Atlantic City in two, it becomes even more important for local, elected leadership to do what’s best for the residents, and not be so concerned with gaming revenues and the tourism district, now fully controlled by the state and infamous CRDA.