What does the future hold for Atlantic City’s Bader Field? If the grand plans announced during Monday’s press conference held outside the Showboat Hotel come to fruition it will be a game changer.
Actually, Bart Blatstein, CEO of Tower Investments Inc., sums it up by saying “This is a once in a lifetime transformational opportunity for Atlantic City.”
Blatstein announced a joint venture with fellow Philadelphia-based developer Post Brothers to create a new $3 billion neighborhood within Atlantic City being referred to as “Casa Mar.” According to the press release, this development is designed “to embrace the water, inspired and modeled after the canals of Venice and Amsterdam.” Bader Field is a former municipal airport dating back to the early 1900s and has been permanently closed since 2006. Atlantic City owns the 140-acre site.
If the Casa Mar proposal is selected by state and city officials, it will include:
- 10,000 residential units
- 400,000 square feet of office and retail space
- 20 acres of trails, parks and amenities all open to the public
More details regarding Casa Mar waterfront community
It seemed fitting that the press conference took place in the middle of a construction site. It’s the future home to the $100 million Island Waterpark targeted for a spring 2023 opening. Tower Development is the company behind the project and owns the neighboring Showboat. So Blatstein isn’t hesitant about investing in Atlantic City.
However, a project like Casa Mar would be much bigger than any other construction project.
“This is a once in a lifetime transformational opportunity for Atlantic City and together Tower and Post will make this happen,” Blatstein said. “The development is a key part of the renaissance of Atlantic City and the highlight of my career. It’s an honor to partner with my dear friends and fellow developers, Matthew and Michael Pestronk of Post Brothers.”
Blatstein noted both companies have created billions of developments over the years, and currently have joint ventured over a billion dollars in residential development in Philadelphia.
Obviously, a large-scale project like Casa Mar will take years to complete. Should it be the proposal city and state officials select, the plan is to develop in five phases over 12 years.
More importantly, it would create 44,000 construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs. Plans call for training and employment of a huge local workforce.
Michael Pestronk, CEO of Post Brothers, said “Casa Mar will change the paradigm for this city.”
“Together we will develop an epic waterfront community that will set a new standard for living not only in Atlantic City, but in the entire US,” Pestronk said.
Renderings of Casa Mar Atlantic City
Those in attendance Monday morning got a first glimpse of what the Casa Mar waterfront community will look like. Here are some of the renderings that were made public during the official announcement:
Bader Field is prime Atlantic City real estate
Anybody who follows Atlantic City history is well aware that Bader Field has seen its share of big proposals. Back in 2008, Penn National (now Penn Entertainment) considered purchasing Bader Field for future casino development. Obviously, the idea never gained traction and the big question remains: What should Atlantic City do with Bader Field?
Well, the Casa Mar project is not the only current proposal out there.
According to published reports, DEEM Enterprises has proposed a $2.7-billion project targeted toward car lovers. Besides housing and retail, the LA-based company has pitched the idea of building a 2.44-mile auto course in which drivers would be able to take luxury vehicles out for a spin. To put this concept into perspective, the Las Vegas Strip is about 4.2 miles. Neither of these more recent proposals include any mention of Atlantic City casino resorts.
However, city and state officials are already familiar with Blatstein’s work and his commitment to the Atlantic City market. There is no official deadline on when a decision will be made regarding Bader Field’s future.
So for now, it’s a game of unveil plans, wait and see.
“We look forward to an open and transparent process,” Blatstein promised. “If approved, we pledge to create in Atlantic City the most exceptional waterfront community in the country.”
Will Casa Mar plans trigger other future Atlantic City development?
Based on the scope of the project, Bader Field is going to attract the most attention. Creating a waterfront community footsteps away from the Atlantic Ocean will make Casa Mar (if approved) seem like a separate city within Atlantic City.
However, if Atlantic City wants to be more a year-round destination and not just another town offering casino gambling, developing other vacant or shuttered properties is essential to future success. The Island Waterpark is one example of this. People walking by the Showboat on Monday morning were stopping to talk to each other about what’s being built there.
Here’s a look at the current construction site:
Here are five other Atlantic City sites that are prime for a big development.
This former hotel casino, which dates back to Steve Wynn‘s days in Atlantic City, has been shuttered since 2014. Property owner Rocco Sebastiani recently shared plans with PlayNJ that include luxury condos and boutique hotel. With the property being footsteps away from the Stockton University Atlantic City campus, this site needs be redeveloped sooner rather than later.
Trump Plaza site
Located at the center of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the former Trump Plaza was another victim of the 2014 Atlantic City casino crash (when four casinos closed). The building was finally imploded in early 2021, but there has been little to no information since regarding what the city plans on doing with the property. Obviously, having a giant empty lot in the center of the Boardwalk makes little to no sense. This site is prime for a major non-gaming project (casino gambling can not be offered as a result of a deed restriction).
The Playground Pier
It’s no secret Caesars Atlantic City is undergoing a major $200-million transformation. This includes the recent openings of Nobu and Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen. The project is targeted for a 2023 completion. However, Caesars Entertainment also owns the Playground Pier, which connects to Caesars via an enclosed walkway over the Boardwalk. The problem is the site resembles more of a graveyard than a dining, shopping and entertainment district.
You would think if Caesars is investing $400 million in AC (including Harrah’s Resort and Tropicana), they would want to redevelop the Playground Pier into some sort of attraction worth visiting. Caesars will likely hold off making any announcements until the current project wraps up. Stay tuned.
What about the former Sands Atlantic City site?
The former Sands Atlantic City site is often forgotten about. The October 2007 implosion ceremony included fireworks and music. However, the plans to build a Las Vegas-style resort never panned out. The vacant property sits between Bally’s Atlantic City and The Claridge Hotel. The old parking garage is still standing.
One would think building a non-gaming hotel here would make sense.
Atlantic City gamblers who frequent The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa or Harrah’s Resort may notice there is a giant parcel of empty land sitting between the two properties. It was once earmarked for another hotel casino.
There have been rumblings over the years of parent companies MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment teaming up for a joint project. And it wouldn’t be surprising if there are future renderings sitting in the back of somebody’s office. For now, there seems to be no rush for developing the space into something special. How does an entertainment venue that the two hotel casinos could share sound?
So which of these projects, including Casa Mar, will be next for Atlantic City?