Round of State Funding Goes to Atlantic City Projects

In a series of developments, various state agencies are funding projects in Atlantic City. The projects include funding seasonal police officers and partial funding of a “Polercoaster” project (l.) on the Boardwalk. The city has also bonded to pay the Borgata casino $80 million in a tax settlement. And finally, ground was broken for the Stockton University Atlantic City campus last week.

A series of moves have been made to steer state funds to Atlantic City.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has approved an application to pay 27.8 percent of the cost of a “Polercoaster” attraction, to be built on the Boardwalk at the site of the former Sands casino. The project’s owner, ACB Ownership, LLC asked the authority to fund $38.4 million of the project’s total cost of $138 million, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

The approval was the last part of the company’s funding plan, according to the Press and the company hopes to open the coaster as part of a major entertainment complex in summer 2019. The money will go toward reimbursing certain taxes on the project, according to the authority.

The group also has plans for other attractions near the site including a zip line, extreme ninja course, an XD Theatre, a skydiving simulator, a bar, and retail space, the Press said.

The state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority also approved spending $1.5 million to hire 45 seasonal Class II police officers to improve safety inside the Tourism District for the summer. It’s an increase of 15 officers over 2016.

The move comes as the city’s regular police department faces possible layoffs as the city and state try to bring the city government’s finances under control.

“Part of the thinking of the additional 15 officers is to get them on Pacific Avenue,” CRDA Chairman Robert Mulcahy told the Press. “The original 30 are basically on the Boardwalk. We wanted to put some on Pacific Avenue. This is another example of the city and CRDA working together to accomplish something that will improve the city.”

CRDA also approved amendments to its master plan for the city’s tourism zone that they hope will streamline regulations and attract more projects such as the Polercoaster to the city.

New zones would allow mixed uses in the Southeast Inlet, entertainment along Kentucky Avenue, art studios in the city’s Ducktown section and retail development around the Atlantic City Expressway and its waterfront, according to the Press.

Later, the City Council approved a bond ordinance to borrow up to $80 million for a $72 million tax settlement with Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. The city owed Borgata $165 million after successful property-tax appeals by the casino, but a state-appointed manager of the city’s finances reached a settlement with the casino that saved the city $93 million.

The city will issue bonds through the Municipal Qualified Bond Act, which lets the city use state aid as collateral. Bonds issued under the act have the same A3 credit rating as the state.

And finally, ground was broken last week for the Atlantic City campus of Stockton University. The $220 million complex will also include the corporate headquarters for South Jersey Gas. Stockton’s main campus is in nearby Pomona, but the Atlantic City campus will allow the school to increase enrollment and focus on different educational tracks.

In 2014, Stockton bought the old Showboat casino for its AC campus, but conflicting deed restrictions made that impossible. The school later sold the building to Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, who re-opened it as a non-gaming hotel last year.

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