Atlantic Club May Finally Reopen As A Non-Gaming Hotel And That Gives Us Pause

Posted on October 3, 2019

The Atlantic Club sits all alone at the south end of the Boardwalk. I occasionally stroll by and start recalling those long-ago weekends in Atlantic City.

The Hilton (one of several former names for the property) used to be my destination of choice. Those dinners at The Oaks and Peregrines’ are hard to forget.

I still remember my brief meeting with the late James Gandolfini (aka Tony Soprano) along with the cast from the hit HBO show The Sopranos. It was 2006 and the future Atlantic Club, along with most of the resort town, was enjoying a few years of stability.

The Club was your basic casino hotel with slots and table games, and yet it provided an escape from the crowds that could easily overwhelm the beaches and boardwalk further north. Especially in the summer.

Unfortunately today, it’s best known for being the first of four Atlantic City casinos to close in 2014.

But Atlantic Club’s fate could soon change for the better.

The Associated Press reported on Monday that Atlantic Club had found a new owner. Colosseo Atlantic City Inc., a New York City-based investment and construction firm, purchased it from TJM Properties. The sale price was not disclosed.

It’s not the only closed casino left in AC, but the news does make me wonder if this will finally be the deal that brings the Atlantic Club back to life.

And if that does happen, will the reborn property work well in Atlantic City?

Atlantic Club sold, and that’s no joke

After several failed attempts to sell the 800-room property, it looks like TJM (owner and operator of The Claridge Hotel) finally found a suitable buyer.

“We have made every effort to find a buyer who could realize the potential of The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel,” said Matt Bradley, one of the heads of development and operations for TJM who handled the sale.

“We are confident that with their extensive experience in construction and redeveloping larger properties, Colosseo is the right company for the job.”

The new owner did not elaborate on specific plans. However, letting the hotel sit vacant for another five years does not seem to be in the cards.

“We are looking forward to working in Atlantic City and restoring such a great property,” said Rocco Sebastiani, Colosseo’s principal. His plan is to run the property as a non-gaming hotel.

Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University, seemed hopeful about the Atlantic Club sale.

“This is certainly very good news for the immediate surrounding area. The hotel operation will bring additional activity and contribute to the vibrance at that end of the boardwalk.”

A series of deals that didn’t deal well

Finding a new buyer for one of Atlantic City’s smallest properties has not exactly gone smoothly. A few other proposed deals were made public but did not pan out for one reason or another.

Here is a look back:

  • A Pennsylvania real estate company know as Endeavor Property Group LLC announced plans to buy the property in 2015. The sale never went through.
  • R&R Development Group proposed building a water park called Dolphin Village with 300 hotel rooms and an indoor go-cart track. No such water park ever was built.
  • Stockton University inquired about using the parking garage for its AC campus last fall, but that deal fell apart, too.

It also doesn’t help that the exterior of the building is deteriorating. The 2018 openings of Hard Rock and Ocean Casino turned the spotlight away from whatever might have happened with Atlantic Club, too.

Atlantic Club history lesson

If and when the property does reopen, there is a good chance The Atlantic Club sign will no longer be on the building.

Just call it the latest swap on a very long list of property names.

Former Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn opened the property as the Golden Nugget back in 1980. Some may even recall the commercials featuring Frank Sinatra:

Wynn ended up selling the property seven years later. It then had a series of name and ownership changes throughout the next two decades.

  • Bally’s Grand & The Grand (1987-1996)
  • Hilton (1996-2011)
  • ACH (2011-2012)
  • The Atlantic Club (2012-2014)

After the property closed on Jan. 13, 2014, Caesars Entertainment and Tropicana Entertainment purchased it. The sale needed to be approved by a federal bankruptcy court judge.

TJM Properties obtained ownership later that year.

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The future for The Atlantic Club

For the first time since 2014, it’s looking like there might be hope for The Atlantic Club (or whatever they decide to call it).

And we are not talking about it being used to film scenes for Zack Snyder‘s upcoming Army of the Dead movie

But details concerning the redesign, number of rooms, and amenities have yet to be announced. That does cause me to hesitate a bit if I’m going to be honest. After all, we all waited for years for Glenn Straub to re-open Revel.

The one thing we do know is that it will be a non-gaming hotel due to a deed restriction placed on the property. And should this project come to fruition, Stockton University visitors could take full advantage of the close proximity.

In terms of what makes sense for both the new owner and customers, Pandit said a multi-use facility concept could be a win-win.

Something that is part hotel and part high-end condominium, said Pandit, would allow residents to have access to the restaurants, health club and spa, valet parking, and room service offerings. 

“Once the property is renovated and differentiated to meet the needs of its specific target segment it should certainly be successful. Small meetings and conferences is a growing sector as is the leisure travel market.”

Will it create fresh memories as the old Hilton did? Likely not.

But for Atlantic City, if it’s going to establish itself as more of a year-round destination, bringing vacant hotels back to life is a great start. No one likes an eye-sore.

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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