An unveiling party for the first phase of The Playground — the $50 million renovation project of the former Pier Shops at Caesars, spearheaded by Tower Investments CEO Bart Blatstein — drew reactions that scantly wavered from one guest to the next Thursday, June 25.
Media members, dignitaries, business leaders and local officials who were given a sneak peak of T Street — the 90,000 square-foot promenade of live-music venues on the first of three levels — seemed almost stunned that Blatstein and his team could so spectacularly convert what was a routine row of retail stores into a vivacious entertainment zone resembling Bourbon Street in New Orleans. T Street officially opens to the public 5 p.m. Friday, June 26.
“It’s over the top. It’s incredible, and so is the man (Blatstein),” says Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson.
“I think it’s high time we had something like this, and it’s amazing that they did it all so fast,” says Joel Balisteros, head of marketing, sales and entertainment for the Claridge Hotel. “I love how it has a feel to it very similar to many of the best-known entertainment zones in the nation.”
“It’s something new and exciting for Atlantic City,” says Atlantic County Freeholder and Assistant to the Provost at Stockton University Alex Marino. “And while it may be a new concept here, it’s worked well in other areas of the country, and I think it’s going to be a great asset to our area too.”
“I’m excited about it. (Head Project Architect) Paul Steelman (of Steelman Associates) is a genius,” says Anthony Catanzaro, president of Steel Pier Associates, who also enlisted Steelman’s services for a multi-million-dollar renovation of the Steel Pier that is nearing completion. “He really is the best at what he does.”
“They’ve done an incredible job here,” says Ed Kline, president of Kline Construction, and formerly a New Jersey Assemblyman and mayor of Brigantine.
“I was on the media tour a few weeks ago (when construction had recently gotten underway), and it’s incredible that they were able to accomplish so much since then,” says Michelle Dawn Mooney, talk show host at WPG Talk Radio 1450, and former news anchor for the bygone NBC-TV 40.
Before the curtains were drawn open on T Street — the centerpiece of which is the 13,500-square-foot, 2,000-seat concert venue 39 North on the far side of the pier from the Boardwalk that offers panoramic ocean views, and state-of-the-art lighting and sound — Blatstein took to the podium and was introduced to the crowd by Atlantic City Council President Frank Gilliam.
"I am so proud of this project,” says Blatstein. “Atlantic City is like home to me and I hope this is part of its rebirth.
“My crew has been incredible. We’ve worked around-the-clock, 150 people a day for 10 weeks straight. It’s been an extremely tight schedule, but you can see by the transformational progress today that this is what Tower Investments does — we keep promises and get things done … The Pier is only the beginning of our involvement in Atlantic City’s renaissance.”
T Street is comprised of Monkey Bar, a centrally located, 4,000-square-foot bar and lounge with ocean views on either side; TAG (Tonkin’ American Grandstand), a western-themed club; 1921, themed like a Prohibition-era speakeasy; plus The Bluey, Bo’s, Purdy and Trinity Irish Pub, which was relocated from its former site on the third level.
Guests will be able to experience live music at T Street seven days a week, starting 5 p.m. weekdays, and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Each venue will feature craft beers, wines by the glass and specialty cocktails. Food service will be provided by Jose Garces and Garces Events.
The Playground is also offering valet parking at Missouri Avenue and the Boardwalk starting 6 p.m. daily, eliminating the walk through parking garages or hotel-casinos for guests who seek semi-direct access to The Playground.