ATLANTIC CITY — Once billed as a “game changer” for the resort, Revel Casino Hotel has spent its second summer shuttered as owner Glenn Straub attempts to acquire the permits needed to reopen the more than 6 million-square-foot property.
Straub once said the facility would open by June 15, but the megaresort sits lifeless.
Rusted chains and locks block access from the Boardwalk. Rewards-card advertisements from the casino’s former life still hang above the main entrance. Straub now claims the property will have a soft Oct. 1 opening and be fully functioning by the end of December.
“This used to be the place to be,” said Harry Crimi, 24, of Philadelphia, as he looked up at the glass-front structure. “It had everything: outdoor bars, pools. When I turned 21, this was the first place that I wanted to go to. It’s a shame what has happened to this place.”
The continued darkness and uncertainty of the property add to the city’s troubled perception, said Robert Ambrose, instructor at the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management at Drexel University.
“Perception is a strong reality, and the city has certainly had its laundry waving in the ocean breeze with news reports about the city’s financial crisis and a looming state takeover,” Ambrose said. “This only is reinforced by the towering former casino hotels, now dark, dotting the Boardwalk landscape. This does not lend to good tourism optics.”
Straub still has a way to go before Revel can reopen.
He needs permits, including a temporary certificate of occupancy from the city and a permit from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
The city was supposed to inspect the property June 21, but Polo North Country Club Inc., the company owned by Straub, did not have the proper paperwork, including alarm system reports and sprinkler system certification.
“I can’t believe how much bureaucracy there is in this state,” Straub said, adding that he has hired a hotel operator and a casino operator for the property.
ATLANTIC CITY — The South Inlet section of the Boardwalk was poised to become the heart of the resort’s economy five years ago.
Last week, Straub was again in front of the CRDA Land Use Board for changes to the site traffic-flow patterns. The board ruled that more information was needed and the hearing will be continued Sept. 8.
Straub said if the permitting process does not improve, he could end his plans to reopen the facility.
“This is exactly what New Jersey is known for,” Straub said. “This is just one more example of New Jersey’s anti-business attitude.”
Dale Finch, the city’s licensing and inspections director, said the city has been in talks with Straub about the future of the property over the past couple of months.
“Right now he is still getting the paperwork that is needed, and there is no inspection scheduled,” Finch said. “He has indicated to us that he wants to have the property opened by the end of the year.”
Polo North bought the $2.4 billion Revel complex for $82 million in bankruptcy court. Revel closed in 2014, along with three other casinos. Despite being touted as the property that was going to turn around the city, Revel never turned a profit.
When Straub reopens Revel, visitors will be able to partake in scuba diving, windsurfing and cooking lessons, spa treatments, a zipline, a ropes course called Skytrail and a 13-floor endurance bicycling course, Straub said.
He also has said he plans to open 900 of the hotel’s 1,600 rooms for customers.
While walking by last Monday, Marla Mis, 32, of Buffalo, looked quizzically at the property.
“I had no idea what it was,” Mis said after she was told of the history of the building. “It’s a shame that it’s closed, it makes the area depressing. It’s a lot worse than I thought it would be.”