In its board of directors meeting Tuesday, Nov. 20, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) voted approval of a $134 million regional conference center project adjacent to Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City’s Marina District.
ATLANTIC CITY — In its board of directors meeting Tuesday, Nov. 20, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) voted approval of a $134 million regional conference center project adjacent to Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City’s Marina District.
The Harrah's Regional Conference Center Project supports recommendations from N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s Advisory Commission Report to increase meetings and conventions in Atlantic City by 30 percent over the next five years, and an independent market impact (feasibility) study performed by Charles Johnson Consulting of Chicago backed up those recommendations in its findings.
The proposed building will encompass two stories and over 243,000 square feet, of which 100,000 is intended for meeting space and the rest for offices and storage. Of the $134 million price tag, $45 million will come from the CRDA and the rest through loans. Groundbreaking is tentatively set for early spring 2013 and the project will take roughly a year-and-a-half to complete. The project is estimated to create approximately 300 jobs during construction and between 60 and 140 permanent jobs once completed.
The project has the support of the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority.
“We believe that the addition of a meetings room facility in the A.C. market will complement the efforts of ACCVA as we draw more convention business to the city,” said ACCVA president Jeff Vasser in a media release.
"Atlantic City is under-supplied in its meeting space and what is missing is a mid-sized conference center that would expand our offerings. We have a state-of-the-art convention center with 500,000 square feet of exhibit space and great hotel meeting space. This project is another tool in our toolkit to offer planners and drive incremental business to Atlantic City."
Vasser further stated, in an interview with NBC News Channel 40, that the ACCVA has been involved in discussions of the project from the beginning, and was approached by the CRDA and Harrah’s for input. The A.C. Convention Center (right) has five halls (A to E) ranging from 29,400 to nearly 200,000 square feet. Currently the A.C. Convention Center attracts mainly trade shows and large-scale conventions. The proposed Harrah’s property would target corporate meetings and special events that Atlantic City currently misses out on, thereby fulfilling the wishes of many groups that have expressed a desire to come to Atlantic City, but only if the proper facilities are in place.
The largest in-casino space that could potentially accommodate conferences/ large business meetings is the Mark G. Etess Arena at the Taj Mahal. Most in-casino venues, however, are best suited for entertainment (as is Boardwalk Hall), and the Harrah’s Regional Conference Center will be specifically designed as an upscale conference space for mid- to large-sized groups, and to “help contribute to the financial stability of Atlantic City by attracting new demand to the marketplace.”
“Everybody’s comfortable that it’ll be a plus for the community,” said Vasser.
Do you think this project will lead to more visitors in Atlantic City?
The statement didn't say if Vasser will be replaced at the ACCVA.
A key initiative behind the CRDA’s endorsement of the Harrah’s Regional Conference Center Project was that it supported recommendations from N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s Advisory Commission Report to increase meetings and conventions in Atlantic City by 30 percent over the next five years.
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