The CRDA board unanimously approved a 300-page document that outlines a redevelopment strategy for Atlantic City that includes short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. Mayor and City Council support efforts.
ATLANTIC CITY — One year to the date Gov. Chris Christie signed landmark legislation designed to revitalize Atlantic City and set the surrounding region on a new course for economic growth, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) adopted the Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan in a special meeting Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the A.C. Convention Center.
The 15 CRDA board members in attendance (two could not attend) voted their support of the plan, including Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford.
An estimated 300 residents, business owners and city stakeholders attended the two-hour meeting, which was also broadcast live on WOND 1400 radio. The Master Plan was in the works for several months after the governor mandated that the state-run CRDA oversee the redevelopment and revitalization of what would be called the Tourism District — a 1,700-acre area encompassing the casinos, the Boardwalk, shopping and dining districts and Bader Field.
In addition to sprucing up existing amenities, the Master Plan’s goals are to increase entertainment and recreational offerings and make visitors feel safe when they visit the resort.
Through a newly created Web site, RevitalizeAC.com, and four public meetings held in January, the CRDA garnered input from residents, business owners and anyone with a genuine interest in offering constructive comment.
Over 1,600 people responded to the Web site’s online survey, and the CRDA hired international real-estate planner Jones Lang LaSalle, the urban planning firm Jerde Partnership, Birdsall Engineering and Hill Wallack Law Firm to assist in putting the Master Plan together. It was announced during the Feb. 1 meeting that the entire Master Plan will eventually be available in PDF format on the CRDA’s main Web site (njcrda.com).
“This is a landmark day for Atlantic City, and CRDA is excited to be at the helm of this redevelopment undertaking,” says CRDA board chairman James Kehoe.
“This plan creates an innovative model that integrates Atlantic City’s seaside location and world-class resorts, and introduces new concepts that stimulate pedestrian foot traffic throughout the district,” says CRDA executive director John Palmieri. “We look forward to bringing all the elements together to create a new visitor experience in Atlantic City … No one expects this to be easy, but now we have a plan to provide direction.”
Assisting the CRDA in fulfilling the Master Plan objectives is the newly created, non-profit entity called the Atlantic City Alliance, which has been given a $30 million marketing budget. The Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority (ACCVA), which had been solely in charge of marketing the city on a much smaller budget, is now part of the CRDA and is supported by a membership of nearly 400 local businesses involved in the hospitality industry.
The Master Plan addresses short-term objectives to transform the Boardwalk, Atlantic and Pacific avenues, and several cross-streets into a lively, walkable destination with shopping, entertainment, dining and nightlife venues.
Mid-term objectives include the redevelopment of mid-town to create concepts such as an artists’ district and entertainment complex (including a concept conceived in the recent past called AC Live! — the fourth phase of Tanger Outlets - The Walk), invigorating Gardner’s Basin and improving direct access from the Boardwalk to Gardner’s Basin, and revitalizing Kentucky Avenue with a focus on music, history and paying homage to a nightlife-and-entertainment district that made the area a tourism destination within itself.
According to information on its Web site, Bass Pro Shops, has reached agreement to be a part of the Cordish Company’s fourth and final phase in the development of The Walk.
“We really [see the skatepark] as an opportunity [to complement] all of the other non-gaming kinds of activities that we want to support,” says Palmieri. “And we own a few parcels and this one we thought would be a potentially very good location.”
Although A.C. tourism has taken a well-publicized hit based on increased competition elsewhere, funnel cake continues to enhance the saltwater air, rolling chairs move like motorized vehicles, and the resort continues to offer amenities that landlocked gambling boxes simply cannot.
In a recent board meeting, the CRDA proposed an inter-governmental agreement with Atlantic County to provide $4.2 million in Atlantic County Open Space funds for the Absecon Lighthouse Park Project.
The goal of the campaign is to build a year-round visitor base and shift consumer perception of the resort.
'There's so much that's going on that's good and it really has enabled us to build a campaign that is very positive and is very upbeat and that does really talk to all of the really positive things that are going on.'
“The master plan is designed to breathe new life into this historic coastal playground and transform the city into a highly desirable place to live, work, play and visit."
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Although the Tourism District Master Plan is due Feb. 1, it won't be presented to the public on that date. However, the CRDA will present the master plan to the public on Monday, March 26, at noon.
As detailed in the Jan. 5 Atlantic City Weekly, a state-mandated Master Plan that outlines Atlantic City’s proposed Tourism District was given a Feb. 1 deadline by Gov. Chris Christie, one year to the date he signed the legislation designed to make the resort town a safer and more attractive place to visit.
Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation today to create an Atlantic City Tourism District and announced a breakthrough in the Revel Casino project.
The bills create a CRDA run tourism district encompassing the city's casinos.
"[B]ills and legislation affecting Atlantic City and the creation of a 'Tourism District' have been fast tracked, and despite promises and assurances to the contrary...."
Watch the video of Atlantic City Mayor Langford on CNN Nov. 1 accusing Gov. Christie of a 'double standard.'