Atlantic City officials are requesting authorization from the New Jersey Superior Court to force billionaire Carl Icahn to immediately demolish the shuttered Trump Plaza on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
The property has sat vacant since 2014. The billionaire activist investor acquired the former casino in his 2016 takeover of the bankrupt Trump Entertainment Resorts. Icahn stalled the demolition process in hopes of receiving millions of dollars from the state’s Reinvestment Development Authority, but that never came to fruition.
During a Thursday news conference at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small (D) said the government has filed paperwork seeking a court order to require Icahn to bring the deteriorating property down.
Today, we are saying to Carl Icahn that we want this building torn down,” the mayor declared. “We want the world to know that we mean business.”
Trump Plaza was developed by now-President Donald Trump, and opened in 1984. It was one of four Atlantic City casinos to close in 2014 – the others being the Showboat, Atlantic Club, and Revel.
Clear and Present Danger
In Small’s state of the city address, the Democratic mayor said one of his primary goals was to see Trump Plaza razed. Small, who became mayor last October following Frank Gilliam’s guilty plea and resignation for stealing $87,000 from a youth basketball organization, said initial discussions with Icahn’s team were successful.
“We have opened up discussions with Icahn Enterprises, and the guy couldn’t have been more generous. It’s safe to say that we’re on the same page of getting this building down. But maybe on different paths on how we get there,” Small explained.
The mayor said the “game has changed” because of the increasing deterioration. Falling debris, consisting of chunks of the building’s stucco and concrete façade, have been reported, and Small wants demolition immediately.
“We could have had a fatality,” Small stated. “This will not be tolerated in the city of Atlantic City.”
Atlantic City Licensing and Inspections Director Dale Finch said the property presents an “immediate hazard.”
Icahn Enterprises President of Real Estate Hunter Gray responded, “We are puzzled by the city’s actions. We already decided to demolish the building, and have commenced the process, including finalizing contracts. If the mayor had simply called us instead of holding a press conference, we could have updated him as well.”
Casinos Win Big
It’s been a hectic few weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) reports business was good in February.
Gross gaming revenue (GGR) from land-based casinos, online gambling, and sports betting totaled $287.3 million – a 19.1 percent surge. Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar casinos saw their win increase 11 percent to $218.3 million.
Seven of the nine casinos all reported GGR increases – the two losers being Bally’s (-5.7 percent) and Resorts (-1.6 percent). Borgata remains top dog, the casino floor winning $57.6 million – a nearly 14 percent jump.
Sportsbooks kept $17 million of their bets, handle totaling $494.8 million.