ATLANTIC CITY -“We have a destination city here and it was historically viewed as a casino city. It isn’t. It’s much more than that,” said John Palmieri, Executive Director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
And that’s why Palmieri has high hopes that a new series of attractions and investments can help the city rebound from the gaming crisis.
“We’ve been focusing on diversifying the economy. That’s really what the CRDA is all about,” said Palmieri.
The CRDA has fronted millions of dollars for several projects throughout the city. Harrah’s is in the process of constructing a $134 million conference center that will be up and ready by this time next year.
“This is something that brings in new customers and different customers who don’t exist here already,” said Rick Mazer, Regional President for Harrah’s Resort.
“It’s going to create all kinds of opportunities for big conferences, corporate conferences and Fortune 500 conferences and events,” said Palmieri.
And over on the boardwalk, Steel Pier plans to build the country’s second largest observation wheel.
“The wheel is going to be great. You have a great skyline here along the boardwalk. You’ll get to see the beach and the boardwalk and of course the skylines of the hotels,” said Anthony Catanoso, President of Steel Pier.
“We are excited because it creates another kind of iconic amusement,” said Palmieri.
The CRDA is also lending $30 million to a development company to build 250 units of multifamily housing with retail shops, a swimming pool and a work out facility near New Jersey and Pacific Avenue. Workers will start building by the end of the year.
“This is a demonstration of the viability of the market for new housing for young working professionals and maybe some empty nesters,” said Palmieri.
And while the gaming industry is in decline, officials believe these new attractions can help bring in more jobs to the city.
“These other economic sectors can strengthen the base of employment for the city and that’s what it’s all about. Creating jobs for people and creating a tax base so the city can run,” said Palmieri.
Creating attractions beyond gaming, for different ways to DO AC.