January 22, 2016
By Stephen Sweeney Five years ago, despite Atlantic City facing ever-increasing competition from casinos and racinos in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and other states, we decided to bar casinos in North Jersey for at least five years to give Atlantic City a chance to reinvent itself as an overall resort destination, as Las Vegas did. By the summer of 2014, it was clear that was not happening. The Atlantic Club had already closed, with Revel, Showboat, and Trump Plaza soon to follow, putting 8,000 casino employees out of work, devastating the local economy, and driving up housing foreclosures to the highest rate in the nation.
August 17, 2015 |
ATLANTIC CITY - Out on the Boardwalk, across from the Donald Trump-branded-but-no-longer-owned Taj Mahal, regulars have a unique view on the 2016 Republican presidential race. "They're fake," Tony Johnson, on a familiar family jaunt from North Carolina, said as he sat face-to-face with a big TRUMP sign. He was talking about the candidates, not the faux-Taj spires. "I came here because I hate Chris Christie," said Cinnaminson teacher Jackie Wilson, explaining her choice of the Taj, in effect voting with room nights.
June 29, 2015 |
There's music in the air on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, where Lenny Johnson and Vera Topinka are sharing an impromptu dance outside Bally's Wild West. "The world's a mess," Lenny, who's 82, explains. "But here in Atlantic City," adds Vera, 77, "it's a lovely day. " Vera, a retired keypunch operator from Toms River, is right: The summer is young, the sea breeze is bracing, and the sun plays across the fanciful facades of Boardwalk landmarks. Even the saw-toothed slab of the extinct Trump Plaza is aglow.
March 27, 2015 |
Trump Taj Mahal casino's parent company is seeking to block Stockton University's creation of an Atlantic City campus next door to the Taj Mahal because it doesn't want to contend with underage college students trying to gamble, the company said Wednesday. Stockton's president says he still hopes to see the Showboat Casino property turned into a branch campus for thousands of students. Trump Entertainment Resorts "does not think having a college next door to the Taj is good for our company," it said in a statement.
January 19, 2015 |
ATLANTIC CITY - The winter here is traditionally brutal for resort business, but a glut of vehicles to transport patrons that once filled the casinos has created a new class of beleaguered taxicab drivers. Nadir Khan, 57, is ready to throw in the towel after four years. "I can't make a living," Khan said as he sat in his taxi outside the Trump Taj Mahal last week. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Khan had two fares totaling $29. The lease on his cab was recently dropped from $275 to $170 a week because business has been so off. Still, Khan - who has three children and a stay-at-home wife to support - can't cover the lower fee, much less his daily gas. "I bring my dreams to America, but now I don't know where to go," said the Pakistani native who arrived in Atlantic City in 1986 - eight years after the first casino, Resorts, opened on the Boardwalk.
December 16, 2014 |
ATLANTIC CITY - It wasn't long ago that the ovens at Formica Bros. Bakery were going full blast - putting out 50,000 pieces of bread a day. As recently as 2007, the nearly century-old establishment in the city's Ducktown section employed 70 people. Owner Frank Formica recalls how orders from casinos were like yeast to his dough, lifting his bakery's bottom line ever higher. Then, pummeled by out-of-state competitors, the casinos began to fall into a swoon, and this year, as four of them closed, Formica lost a big chunk of his business "in the blink of an eye. " He is down to 35,000 to 40,000 pieces a day, employs 40, and is sending his trucks ever farther to find new customers.
December 13, 2014 |
ATLANTIC CITY - A city tax lien sale brought faltering Atlantic City some pre-Christmas cheer Thursday - a $22 million tax bill from bankrupt Trump Plaza and Taj Mahal will be paid - but also some coal: Nobody bid on a $32.5 million unpaid tax bill from Revel. "I'm concerned," said the city's revenue director, Michael Stinson, after the four-hour sale, with a total of nearly $59 million in owed taxes on 1,000 properties, yielded at most half of that. Stinson said the tax sale plus an imminent $40 million note sale should be enough to get the city over the immediate 2014 budgetary crisis.
December 7, 2014 |
The Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City is likely to remain open until Dec. 20, as its parent company continues to negotiate for financial aid from the city or the State of New Jersey, the bankrupt Trump Entertainment Resorts said Friday. However, some employees already started working fewer hours this week, Kathleen McSweeney, senior vice president of market operations for Trump Entertainment, said in a statement. The Taj Mahal closed one of its hotel towers Monday, and at that point still planned to close the casino next Friday, according to a Nov. 26 petition on its closing plans filed with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
November 28, 2014 |
Investor Carl Icahn has agreed to lend Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. up to $5 million to help the owner of Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City pay its bankruptcy expenses into January. The move, described in a bankruptcy court filing Wednesday, could indicate that a deal is near to keep the Taj Mahal open. Trump has said it will close the casino Dec. 12 if its biggest union doesn't drop an appeal of an October bankruptcy ruling that stripped workers of company-sponsored health insurance.
November 20, 2014 |
ATLANTIC CITY - Vera Coking famously refused to sell to Donald Trump. But in the end, she sold to Carl Icahn. Property records in Atlantic County show that Coking's famous but now-vacant white house, in the shadow of the famous but now-shuttered Trump Plaza, is now owned by IEH Enterprises - Icahn. The house at 127 S. Columbia Place was sold at auction in August for $583,000. At the time, Atlantic City lawyer Pat Agnellini said he was the bidder on site - and on the phone - who walked away with the winning bid. Agnellini declined to say at the time whom he represented other than himself, or what the plans were for the property.