[toc]In case you missed it, the Revel is no longer the Revel.
Mega-wealthy developer Glenn Straub renamed the hotel-casino the TEN this past September and says the property will be ready to open in the first quarter of 2017, more than six months after the then-Revel was supposed to open for business as a hotel.
The TEN is now awaiting a certificate of occupancy from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) to open its doors within the first four months of the new year.
Battle over business owner’s property
The CRDA is, among other things, in charge of using 1.25 percent of Atlantic City casino revenue to invest in local economic and community development. As its budget shrank during the past two years due to the city’s declining casino revenues, it’s had to find creative ways to use the development fund.
One of those ways, according to a recent report from CBS News, is asking for an eminent domain designation of certain buildings on the land alongside the hulking, six million-square foot TEN property.
One of those buildings is owned by local piano tuner Charlie Birnbaum, who uses the bottom floor of the three-story building as his business space and rents out the other two floors to tenants. The home is located on Oriental Ave., which is behind TEN and, at certain points in the day, is blanketed by the casino’s shadow.
The legal battle surrounding the property has cost the CRDA mere pennies (less than $190,000), but represents a larger battle between the authority, casinos like TEN, and local residents and business owners.
While the CRDA is, by law, required to reinvest revenue into the community, Birnbaum and his legal representation say that law doesn’t give the CRDA a license to steamroll property owners to meet their objectives. Here’s what one legal expert told CBS:
“At this point, this is just a struggle about the limits on government power … They believe their power is unlimited and are willing to spend any amount of money to try to prove their power is unlimited.”
Lawsuit continues after judge limits CRDA
In August, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez ruled that the development authority wasn’t able to condemn a property just because it could.
Birnbaum deemed the decision a miracle, while Mendez’s ruling no doubt frustrated the CRDA’s lawyers.
The ongoing battle spurred the Institute for Justice to launch a petition on Birnbaum’s behalf. Should Birnbaum be able to buffet the CRDA’s repeated attempts to take his property, it will mark a big victory for Atlantic City property owners.
For New Jersey casino owners like Straub, a victory for Birnbaum could be just another annoyance in a string of roadblocks.
It’s no secret that Atlantic City’s casino industry has been suffering, and rulings in favor of restricting expansion via eminent domain could limit opportunities for revenue.