There was perhaps no place in New Jersey that was more negatively impacted by the Great Recession than Atlantic City. Four casinos closed down in 2014 amid declining revenues, but signs of a rebirth have begun to show up around America’s Playground.
One of the most high-profile closures was the Revel, a two-acre property at 500 Boardwalk that’s the city’s tallest building and was its northernmost casino. Completed in 2012 at the cost of $2.4 billion, the resort-style casino went through two bankruptcies before closing and was sold in court to Polo North Country Club in 2015 for just $82 million.
Polo North’s owner, Glenn Straub, had pledged to reopen the shuttered property as the re-branded TEN sometime last year. But Straub ran into a litany of problems centered around the casino’s outstanding bills and licensing issues, eventually deciding instead to sell the property to Colorado-based developer Bruce Deifik earlier this year for $200 million.
Deifik, through the company AC Ocean Walk, plans to open the 1,399-room casino this summer as the Ocean Resort Casino, and a world-renowned hotel group has just come aboard the endeavor. Last week, the casino announced that they entered a franchise agreement with Hyatt for what’s known as The Unbound Collection. The two-year-old brand has other properties in Philadelphia, Nashville, and Miami.
“We are excited to be affiliating Ocean Resort Casino with The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand, and to be introducing Hyatt to Atlantic City, one of the nation’s most visited resort and casino destinations,” said David Tarr, Senior Vice President of Development, Americas, with Hyatt. “AC Ocean Walk’s spectacular resort will establish a new standard on Atlantic City’s storied Boardwalk, making it a fitting addition to The Unbound Collection by Hyatt portfolio.”
AC Ocean Walk’s plans include 138,000 square feet of gaming space featuring 100 table games, 2,200 slot machines, and a sports book that will operate if New Jersey wins its U.S. Supreme Court case to legalize sports betting. 160,000 square feet of meeting and convention space and an on-site spa called Exhale will also call the property home.
The announcement marks the latest reversal of fortune for the gambling mecca by the sea. Since the economy has gotten stronger, the once-shuttered Showboat was resurrected in 2016 as a non-casino hotel and the former House of Blues reopened as The Bourbon Room last month. The former Trump Taj Mahal, also closed in 2014, is expected to reopen as Hard Rock Casino this summer as well.
After years of revenue decline and some local government dysfunction, Atlantic City’s revenue increased to $2.6 billion in 2017. It’s the second year in a row that profits are up, leading some to believe that A.C. may be on the verge of something big.