Is 2023 The Year Atlantic City Decides The Future of Bader Field?

Written By Stephanie Loder on January 10, 2023 - Last Updated on January 12, 2023
Bader Field Atlantic City

It’s a good bet that Atlantic City’s Bader Field is going to see development in the future. However, which plan will receive approval, and when, is still to be determined.

Atlantic City was ready to choose the $2.7 billion Renaissance project for high-end sports cars proposed in January 2022 by DEEM Enterprises LLC, but the plans were dropped later in the year after New Jersey officials asked them not to take the vote.

The delay opened the door for a competing Bader Field proposal by Philadelphia Developer Bart Blatstein.

On Monday, two family foundations associated with former state Sen. William Gormley announced they would be donating $40,000 to study a plan to make Bader Field a city park.

None of the current proposals include building another Atlantic City casino.

Bader Field is more than 140 acres. From a historic perspective, it opened in 1910 and was the first municipal airport in the nation. Bader Field, which closed in 2006, is owned by the City of Atlantic City. 

What about Casa Mar or a city park?

Blatstein, CEO of Tower Investments Inc., asked Gov. Phil Murphy in November to begin the process of choosing a developer for the former airport property.

Blatstein announced a joint venture with fellow Philadelphia-based developer Post Brothers to create a new $3-billion neighborhood within Atlantic City referred to as “Casa Mar.” The development would be designed “to embrace the water, inspired and modeled after the canals of Venice and Amsterdam.”

Earlier this week, the Press of Atlantic City reported that the Levine Family Foundation and the Gormley Foundation plan to contribute $20,000 each to the state for the study. The unknown is whether New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will accept the funds and do the study.

Bader Field is ‘critical to the future of Atlantic City’

In December, resort officials had planned to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with DEEM, based in Los Angeles and Atlantic City but were told to remove it from the City Council agenda in mid-month. 

Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said the city was asked by Jacquelyn Suarez, director of the state Division of Local Government Services, not to vote on the MOU agreement as proposed. 

At issue is the question of whether it is legally necessary for Atlantic City to hold a competitive bidding process to select who will be the developer for the city-owned waterfront property.

State officials, which have oversight of the Atlantic City government, declined comment.

Process for awarding project still unclear

Atlantic City business leaders feel the MOU question should be answered.

On Dec. 13, Greater Atlantic City Chamber President Michael Chait sent a letter to Small, City Council members and New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver asking for transparency regarding the development of Bader Field. He emphasizes the need for an RFP (request for proposals) process.

“We believe an RFP process is important,” said Chait.

Chait said the Chamber isn’t “taking sides” about which proposal for Bader Field is better.

“We just know Bader Field is so critical to the future of Atlantic City, it has to be the best fit for the destination,” Chait said. “Both proposals are incredibly ambitious and spectacular, but at the same time there should be some type of process.”

City officials had planned to move forward with the DEEM plan before the December delay.

More on the DEEM Enterprises car lovers concept

The proposal by DEEM would feature a 2.44-mile Formula 1 track surrounded by hundreds of condominiums built to withstand hurricane-force winds. The plans also include:

  • Educational facility
  • Shopping and restaurants
  • High-rise hotel

Michael Binder is a representative of developers DEEM Enterprises LLC., the company that presented the Renaissance proposal in 2022. DEEM hasn’t signed a deal, but Binder said the proposal has been endorsed by City Mayor Marty Small. 

Developing the Renaissance project would mean elevating Bader Field six feet at one end and 35 feet at the other, he told PlayNJ.com. Binder said the Army Corps of Engineers would dredge the back bays around Bader Field and have spoils dumped on Bader Field and use them for elevation.

Binder said a microgrid would provide energy generation and distribution for Renaissance, which also would use hydrogen. He declined to name the investors but said they have money ready to begin development. Construction would take place over 7-9 years, and create 1,200 to 1,500 permanent jobs, he said.

A good fit for Atlantic City gambling?

A rendering of the project shows solar panels on condo roofs and other available roof space throughout the design. The clientele for the Bader Field project would be a good fit for the gaming industry in Atlantic City, Binder said. 

Most of the customers who would purchase condos or drive a race car on the track would be Tesla owners and people who enjoy a high-roller lifestyle at the casinos, Binder said. The race cars, which would run on electric power, would not create enough sound to bother neighbors along Albany Avenue or throughout the Chelsea neighborhood, according to Binder. 

“There won’t be discernable noise from the track. There’s more noise on Albany Avenue right now,” he said.

The project would use a network operations center or NOC, allowing IT teams to manage and monitor Renaissance. For instance, Binder said the NOC would turn off lighting when owners leave their condos and turn the power back on upon return. The motor course was designed by a top motorsport track designer from Spain, Binder said. 

Photo by Wayne Parry/AP
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Stephanie Loder

Stephanie Loder is a freelance writer for PlayNJ. She provides coverage of New Jersey's Atlantic City casinos while also focusing on the beach, boardwalk, and special gaming events. Prior to writing for PlayNJ, she covered Atlantic City government, breaking news, and casinos for The Press of Atlantic City in Pleasantville, N.J.

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