Atlantic City to Get a Facelift
Officials have announced plans to give Atlantic City a facelift, with a revitalization plan calling for a major renovation of the boardwalk that will see a new entertainment zone created including new lighting, pavilions, and art.
Atlantic City has struggled over the last decade to regain its former glory, with its casinos suffering mightily as competition increased from neighboring states and some of its properties started showing their age.
Atlantic City is still the second-largest gambling area in the US after Las Vegas but revenues have plummeted steadily for nearly five years, with many gamblers and tourists choosing instead to visit newer casinos in Pennsylvania and other states.
The revitalization plan will see some major thoroughfares will such as Atlantic Avenue get a new arts and boutique district is planned, with a new residential area along the water planned for the South Inlet.
Owners of the historic Steel Pier are planning $100 million in improvements sincluding new amusement park rides as well as bringing back some attractions from the days of yore such as diving horses and recreating the Marine Ballroom.
Gambling revenues from the city's casinos will foot part of the renovation bill, with private investments hopefully paying for the bulk of it.
"Our mission is to create a city where there is no off season," said David Sheldon, a planner from The Jerde Partnership. "It is about a city that pulls you back in and makes you want to return again and again."
The state of New Jersey has taken control of Atlantic City's gaming district, with Governor Chris Christie authorizing hundreds of millions of dollars in new debt in a bid to make Atlantic City casinos competitive again in the face of new competition from casinos in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other states.
The city still faces an uphill battle, however, as the lingering recession and high unemployment in the US have led to casinos in many parts of the US struggling to attract as many gambling dollars as they did in past years.