Despite selling his Atlantic City casino, Glenn Straub has no intentions of leaving town.
Straub and his company, Polo North Country Club, sold the former Revel last month after two years of troubles. They still still own dozens of properties in the city, though.
According to Straub, the city should give him carte blanche to redevelop one of its key areas.
Straub and the South Inlet
Most of Straub’s remaining properties are in the South Inlet, the neglected stretch of shore that runs from the lighthouse up to Garnder’s Basin. That puts it in the shadow of the city’s tallest building, the palatial resort he just sold for $200 million. The former Revel will reopen in 2018 as the Ocean Resort Casino.
The rest of the South Inlet is the subject of a large redevelopment project, too. Current construction will extend the Boardwalk all the way around the inlet, delivering foot traffic to the area zoned for high-density commerce. It’s been compared to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in the city’s aspirations.
In addition to the grand opening of the Ocean, the former Taj Mahal will reopen as Hard Rock Atlantic City. Rediscovering the area surrounding the Boardwalk casinos might be the key to the city’s future.
In an interview with Press of AC, Straub said that officials should name him as the redeveloper for the South Inlet. That designation would give him a great deal of decision-making power, along with tax breaks and the ability to commandeer more property. Straub opposed the same designation for developer M&J in 2015.
The City Council has the final say over what happens in the Tourism District, though. And President Marty Small says nobody will be able to strong-arm their way into position.
“We are not going to name anyone,” Small said. “If people are interested in development in the city, they are going to have to go through a process.”
That process, by all accounts, is an arduous one. Any development must be done under the rules laid out by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
Straub’s other plans in Atlantic City
Straub’s grand visions have made him the subject of light-hearted journalist jokes over the years. When he purchased Revel, he proposed some of the most outlandish uses for the space imaginable.
He planned to invest more than $100 million to construct the world’s largest waterpark, for starters. He envisioned artificial snow-capped mountains, a motocross arena, and equestrian grounds covered by domes the size of city blocks. World-class performers would flock to play at at his concert venue. A “Tower of Geniuses” would host scientists while they tackled the world’s most fundamental problems.
Here’s more, straight from the horse’s mouth:
We’ll also have mud runs where we’ll raise $1 million a day for cancer charities. Girls will get dressed in pink tutus and run around on our race track in the mud.
Straub wanted to build a new ferry terminal to transport folks between Manhattan and StraubWorld.
Quite literally none of those plans came to fruition. He did actually begin construction on a ropes course in the lobby at one point. But he never got the doors to Revel/TEN open under his ownership.
Given that history, it’s fair to be skeptical of his other plans in the city. But he has at least one idea that might stick.
In 2017, Straub proposed plans to buy Bader Field and increase air-based tourism to the city. The airfield, which is currently unused, lives right in the heart of Atlantic City.
If he’s serious about rejuvenating Atlantic City, airport expansion might be a good priority. He made a similar proposal in 2015 amid his purchase of Revel.
Will Straub own a casino again?
Straub certainly has the means to re-enter the casino industry if he wants to. His company owns a number of properties that could be zoned for casino use, including a large parcel near the historic Gardner’s Basin. There are also a couple vacant casinos for sale, although the Atlantic Club is showing some signs of deterioration.
Of course, if Straub wanted to start a new casino project, he’d have to work with state regulators once again. And that’s not gone well in the past. Based on the clues, it seems like he never really wanted to own a casino in the first place.
Straub was able to procure Revel for just $82 million in bankruptcy court, which was cheap for a mega-resort on 20 acres of Boardwalk real estate. He clearly had big plans for the property, which cost more than $2 billion to construct. Gaming was a complete afterthought, though. Maybe he would consider leasing some gaming space to a casino company.
Despite the building’s original purpose, Straub argued that he did not need a casino license to allow gambling in his building. The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement disagreed. The two parties spent the better part of two years fighting in court without coming to a resolution.
Even amid his grand plans for the Revel, Straub was already talking about developing the South Inlet. It seems likely he’ll focus his efforts on non-gaming endeavors there for the foreseeable future.
Maybe he’ll get his Tower of Geniuses after all.