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What will happen at the Trump Plaza site once the building is demolished
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What will happen at the Trump Plaza site once the building is demolished

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Demolition continues on the former Trump Plaza in anticipation for the future implosion of the building. Atlantic City, NJ. January 21, 2021 (Kristian Gonyea/For The Press of Atlantic City )

John Exadaktilos, owner of Ducktown Tavern and Liquors at the corner of Atlantic and Georgia Avenues, is having a Trump Plaza Implosion Party.

ATLANTIC CITY — On Wednesday, Trump Plaza will come down and leave the city with a golden opportunity to redevelop one of its few remaining available beachfront lots.

The demolition of the former casino owned by billionaire Carl Icahn would open several acres of premium oceanfront property that could attract millions of dollars in investment, experts said.

Since its closing, the deteriorating property, formerly owned by former President Donald Trump, has become a symbol of the fall of the city and its gaming empire.

“Now that all the hoopla is done,” said Mayor Marty Small Sr. during his State of the City address on Thursday night, “we have to clean up eight stories worth of debris, but I’m not concerned about that. I’m concerned about the rebuild.”

Icahn has not announced what he plans to do with the property.

According to zoning regulations, the redevelopment of the property could include casinos, multi-family high-rise, hotels, amusement uses, movie theater, retail, services, restaurants, bars, parks, educational uses; institutional; and government.

Trump Plaza opened in 1984. Although Trump cut ties with the casino in 2009, he received a 10% fee for the use of his name on three of the city’s casinos at the time. In 2016, Icahn Enterprises bought the Trump properties out of bankruptcy court. Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort closed in 2016 and reopened as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in 2018.

“We are working with Carl Icahn to bring in exciting development,” Small said. “We don’t own the land or control it. We get one shot. Center city, oceanfront doesn’t become available very often.”

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During his State of the City address, Small showed a slide depicting an open-air corridor where the casino used to be. While no plans for the site have been announced, its future has been an issue that has been discussed in various city redevelopment studies over the years.

A state report several years ago on Atlantic City suggested the demolition of the Plaza property to create so-called “greenscapes,” providing convenient access to the Boardwalk and ocean for nongambling visitors that could help re-orient the “new” Atlantic City.

The site is one of the most visible spots in the city. Nearly all travelers on the Atlantic City Expressway heading into the city use the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Columbus Boulevard where the Trump Plaza garage is located, according to a 2019 report of the redevelopment of the Ducktown section of the city.

The area is well suited for high-amenity tourism-related uses and would likely be enhanced with the demolition of the former casino’s parking garage to establish visual connectivity to the new development, according to the report.

The cleanup of the site following demolition is expected to last until May.

“The redevelopment of the Trump Plaza site (which is located entirely within the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s Tourism District) would have considerable impacts on Ducktown and would represent one of the largest redevelopment sites in Atlantic City’s recent history,” the report said. “The site is just outside of the neighborhood’s historic core. Any new developments on this site should reflect and incorporate the existing neighborhood, serving to link the more tourist-oriented, Boardwalk-facing section of the City to Ducktown’s core.”

The property would be perfect for a promenade, said Jim Kennedy, a local economist and former executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

“Think of the property that connects it all. At street level, a pedestrian promenade which connects Atlantic Avenue to the Boardwalk,” Kennedy said. “It sets up a single Convention Center to Boardwalk/Boardwalk Hall Entertainment District.”

The demolition of the Plaza will end one era and, it is hoped, create another, Council President George Tibbitt said.

“It’s the end of an era and being of something new,” Tibbitt said. “We can’t wait to see what goes up there.”

To contact Nicholas Huba:

nhuba@pressofac.com

Twitter @acpresshuba

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