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Pa. real estate firm to buy Atlantic Club

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Casino personnel clear the tables on the gaming floor at midnight. Sunday January 12 2014 Last day of hotel and casino operations at the Atlantic Club, Atlantic City. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

ATLANTIC CITY — A Pennsylvania real estate company that specializes in residential projects and senior-citizen housing has agreed to buy the shuttered Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, newly filed property records show.

The purchase by an affiliate of Endeavor Property Group LLC continues a revolving door of ownership at the Atlantic Club since the former Boardwalk casino closed Jan. 13, 2014, amid Atlantic City’s economic crisis.

Endeavor, of Devon, Pennsylvania, is buying the complex from TJM Properties Inc. for an undisclosed price. Neither company commented Tuesday on the transaction, which was disclosed in an agreement of sale filed Dec. 29 with the Atlantic County Clerk’s Office. Once the sale closes, a deed will be filed giving the price.

Atlantic Club is under a deed restriction barring it from being used as a casino again. Endeavor’s experience as a housing developer suggests the Atlantic Club’s 800-room hotel tower could be resurrected as a residential complex. The company’s website says Endeavor’s portfolio includes eight mixed-use residential projects, including senior-citizen housing, totaling more than 1,500 units in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

One tourism analyst at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey believes the Atlantic Club could be transformed into a residential development catering to senior citizens or people looking for a seashore vacation retreat.

“From the beginning, I saw it as an opportunity to cater to retirees or second-home buyers who would love to be at the Jersey Shore. I think senior housing is exactly what the doctor ordered,” said Israel Posner, executive director of Stockton’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism.

Posner said Atlantic Club’s location would allow senior citizens or other people living there to take advantage of the amenities at the nearby Tropicana Casino and Resort. Tropicana includes The Quarter, an upscale retail, dining and entertainment complex.

“The Quarter has a lot of entertainment. The Quarter has transformed the Tropicana into an entertainment destination. That could be a big attraction for people living at the Atlantic Club,” Posner said.

But for now, the Atlantic Club remains an empty hulk overlooking the southern end of the Boardwalk. Formerly one of Atlantic City’s smaller casinos, it had a hard time competing against its larger rivals and suffered millions of dollars in losses before it went out of business. Atlantic Club’s shutdown began a succession of casino closings in 2014 that also included Showboat, Revel and Trump Plaza.

TJM Properties, based in Clearwater, Florida, bought the Atlantic Club in May for $13.5 million from an affiliate of casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. Caesars and fellow casino company Tropicana Entertainment Inc. paid a combined $23.4 million to acquire the Atlantic Club in a bankruptcy sale in December 2013. Caesars took possession of the property and buildings for $15 million, while Tropicana bought the Atlantic Club’s slot machines and table games for $8.4 million.

Neither Caesars nor Tropicana had any interest in operating the Atlantic Club as a casino hotel in Atlantic City’s struggling gambling market. The casino’s closing threw 1,600 employees out of work.

Caesars slapped a deed restriction on the property that prohibits any new owners from operating the Atlantic Club as a casino again. As the most recent owner, TJM has kept the building in mothballs while it shopped it to prospective buyers.

TJM, an acronym for company principal Terence J. McCarthy, has instead concentrated on its redevelopment of the former Claridge Casino Hotel. TJM acquired the Claridge from Caesars for $12.5 million in February and renovated it into a boutique noncasino hotel.

Atlantic Club now seems poised to join the Claridge and Showboat as former casinos reborn for another use. Stockton recently bought the Showboat for $18 million and will repurpose it into a new Atlantic City campus. The college also plans to run a hotel at Showboat, in addition to using it as an academic setting.

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