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Improved Atlantic City streets meant to funnel patrons to Revel megaresort

When Revel throws open its doors in April as Atlantic City’s newest casino, it is taking a risk: Can patrons find their way down to the South Inlet, a neighborhood historically ignored by the resort’s casino boom because of its inaccessibility?

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Or will the new multimillion-dollar thoroughfare that reconfigures the city’s streets and the new “Revel Beach” signs that dot it be enough to entice customers?

The $42 million South Inlet Transportation Improvement Project, when finished in April, will leave a widened boulevard leading into Revel. Starting at Absecon Boulevard, drivers following the new Revel Beach signs will be directed to the newly widened Melrose Avenue, and then Connecticut Avenue. That’s the main entrance, unofficially “Revel Boulevard.”

Massachusetts Avenue, the main way out, also will be improved.

While overseen by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the project was underwritten by the South Jersey Transportation Authority, with one-third of the eventual funding coming from the state Department of Transportation.

The undertaking is the largest in the city since the $330 million Atlantic City Expressway Connector opened in 2001. That project made it easier to get to the Marina District and led to the development of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa two years later.

The project “allows for the anticipated increase in traffic to be able to access that part of the city in a consistent manner,” CRDA spokeswoman Kim Butler said. The road likely will have to handle well in excess of 10,000 drivers per day when it opens.

Revel also is expected to increase traffic along the White Horse Pike onto Absecon Boulevard and into the South Inlet.

State traffic counts have not been updated since May 2007, but figures from then show 27,151 vehicles on average used the Atlantic City Expressway on a given day.

Similarly, a 48-hour traffic study conducted on Absecon Boulevard between Pennsylvania and Virginia avenues in late January 2011 found the road accommodated about 9,800 cars per day.

Keith Mills, the resort’s planner, said the advance roadway planning would pay off.

In one example, the tangled intersection of Delaware, Melrose and Mediterranean avenues with Absecon Boulevard will be simplified for casino traffic. Delaware Avenue north and Mediterranean Avenue west of the intersection will be closed at the intersection, Mills said.

If they were not closed off, Mills said, with the arrival of Revel those local roads would “bog down to a much more intense intersection.”

Revel officials, preparing for their opening this spring, would not respond to questions it asked be submitted in writing. Executives there previously had supported the project.

Tom Woodruff, president of the Atlantic City Jitney Association, said it is tough to tell before the casino opens, but he said the new roads “certainly look good.”

He said the planning likely would alleviate a bottleneck during weekends and special events in front of the Showboat Casino Hotel.

In a new move, the resort’s iconic jitneys will pick up and deliver passengers at the porte cochere.

Elsewhere in the resort, casino visitors who want to ride the small buses must wait outdoors. The move was at the casino’s suggestion, association Vice President John Lanfranchi said.

Both he and Woodruff approached the topic cautiously.

“I think it’s going to make it somewhat challenging, but I don’t think it’s going to be difficult,” Lanfranchi said, while Woodruff said “it’s new territory for us and we are willing to try anything.”

However, some taxicab interests said they were concerned this shut them out.

Paul Rosenberg, president of the Yellow Cab Co., which controls many of the city cab licenses, said casinos would have to line up in the garage off New Jersey Avenue, halfway between the Boardwalk and Oriental Avenue, and wait to be signaled by staff at the porte cochere.

He was concerned that could hinder cabs. If there were a major event, he said, cabs afterward would have to turn across as many as 2,000 cars exiting the garage roadway.

“There’s a potential to be a five- to 10-minute wait for a taxicab,” he said.

Woodruff said he did not want a fight with the cabs. “We are not trying to infringe on their territory.”

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Housing Crisis to End in 2012 as Banks Loosen Credit Standards

After seven years of declining housing prices and banking and mortgages problems experts see crisis ending in 2012. With home prices back to realistic levels banks are loosening credit. With interest rates at 40 year record lows with is the year to snatch up that Jersey Shore home before prices rebound. IML

By: Krista Franks Brock

Capital Economics expects the housing crisis to end this year, according to a report released Tuesday. One of the reasons: loosening credit.

The analytics firm notes the average credit score required to attain a mortgage loan is 700. While this is higher than scores required prior to the crisis, it is constant with requirements one year ago.

Additionally, a Fed Senior Loan Officer Survey found credit requirements in the fourth quarter were consistent with the past three quarters.

However, other market indicators point not just to a stabilization of mortgage lending standards, but also a loosening of credit availability.

Banks are now lending amounts up to 3.5 times borrower earnings. This is up from a low during the crisis of 3.2 times borrower earnings.

Banks are also loosening loan-to-value ratios (LTV), which Capital Economics denotes “the clearest sign yet of an improvement in mortgage credit conditions.”

In contrast to a low of 74 percent reached in mid-2010, banks are now lending at 82 percent LTV.

While credit conditions may have loosened slightly, some potential homebuyers are still struggling with credit requirements. In fact, Capital Economics points out that in November 8 percent of contract cancellations were the result of a potential buyer not qualifying for a loan.

Additionally, Capital Economics says “any improvement in credit conditions won’t be significant enough to generate actual house price gains,” and potential ramifications from the euro-zone pose a threat to future credit availability.

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Sales of existing South Jersey Shore Homes rise in January by 4.3%

By ELAINE ROSE Staff Writer Press of Atlantic City

Housing sales increased in January over the same period last year, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday, with sales of existing homes up 4.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.6 million sales.

Sales of single-family homes rose 3.8 percent; the number of first-time homebuyers, a key element for a housing recovery, went up slightly and represented 33 percent of all sales. A healthy market usually shows firjerseyshoreacp_400

first-time buyers making up 40 percent of sales.

“Things are actually going well. I’m kind of excited about how the year is starting off,” Anthony D’Alicandro, president of the Atlantic City and County Board of Realtors and owner of Coldwell Banker Casa Bella Realtors in Linwood, said Wednesday.

Atlantic County saw a 1.3 percent increase in the sales of existing homes last month, D’Alicandro said, when including single-family dwellings, condominiums and townhouses.

Sales had declined sharply in the fourth quarter of 2011, not because of a lack of buyers, but due to a shortage of homes on the market, D’Alicandro said. That is because New Jersey was slower than other states to allow foreclosures to continue after the “robo-signing” scandal of late 2010.

“New Jersey is just starting to see a pickup in inventory,” D’Alicandro said.

Prices are likely to remain flat for some time, as a glut of foreclosures starts to hit the market, D’Alicandro said. Banks will work aggressively to get the distressed homes off their lists, and some have not been well-maintained.

Banks have relaxed their lending standards a bit, and prospective homebuyers can get financing, provided they have good credit and an acceptable debt-to-income ratio, D’Alicandro said.

Mortgage rates weren’t a concern for Nick and Crystal Briglia, who looked at a home for sale in Galloway Township on Wednesday evening, along with their son, Dylan.

Nick Briglia said his family rented a home in Absecon for the last year while he worked on construction of the Revel casino hotel in Atlantic City; they like the area and want to stay. They have money saved up and hope to buy a home outright.

“Our lease is up, and I figure I’m paying too much for rent,” Briglia said.

Real estate agent Hader Rivas of Re/Max Atlantic in Northfield said he is getting busy showing homes to prospective buyers. In fact, he just sold a unit earlier Wednesday, he said.

“They’re finally coming off the fence and (realizing) there are a lot of great deals out there,” Rivas said. “Phones are ringing and people are looking.”

Sales declined somewhat in Ocean City, but a lot of people signed contracts to buy homes, D’Alicandro said. Once the deals close, the increases will show up in the February and March numbers, he said.

But an increasing number of contracts are being canceled, D’Alicandro said. Sometimes the buyer can’t get financing or an appraiser says the home is worth less than the agreed-upon price. But the biggest reason for ending contracts is that short sales — or selling the home for less than the money owed on it — either don’t get approved by the bank or the buyer becomes frustrated at how long the process takes.

In the remainder of Cape May County, 110 housing units of all types were sold in January, compared to 86 in January 2011, said Brian Groetsch, president of the Cape May County Association of Realtors and an agent with Re/Max At the Shore. The median sales price was down slightly, from $315,000 last year to $307,500 this year.

Average sales prices rose from $509,378 to $553,927, indicating that high-end properties, especially in beach towns, are selling well.

“I think this mirrors much of what the NAR’s research shows, in that there is pent-up demand, even for second homes, and that many buyers are taking advantage of the affordability that is present in the current market,” Groetsch said.

While the report is good news, it’s not quite time to celebrate, Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors of Holland, Pa., and Margate, said Wednesday in a statement. Many of the homes being sold are “distressed,” or foreclosures and short sales, and some segments of the market are still not doing well.

A continuing supply of distressed homes should keep prices low, Naroff said. Also, nearly 25 percent of sales were to investors, not people planning to use the unit as a primary residence. That is good for a growing demand for rental housing, but won’t give a boost to the industry as a whole.

“While the housing market is slowly improving, there is little reason to think that the non-distressed segment of the market is poised to take off,” Naroff said. “Until the housing problems are resolved, which could take another three or more years in some regions, don’t expect sales or construction to pick up rapidly.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Casino Reinvestment Development Authority approves almost $10 million for initiatives to improve Atlantic City

By EMILY PREVITI, Staff Writer Press of Atlantic City
ATLANTIC CITY – State officials approved nearly $10 million for initiatives aimed at improving the resort during the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority board’s meeting Tuesday – its first since the Tourism District Master Plan was adopted earlier this month.
About $1.2 million will pay for 990 trash and recycling bins along the Boardwalk and throughout the rest of the Tourism District. Scheduled to arrive 200 at a time in bi-weekly shipments starting in April, the new canisters feature locked tops – preventing animals from getting into them. They are also designed to allow in less rainfall, which will greatly reduce wastewater that can result from a downpour, said CRDA Deputy Director Susan Ney Thompson.

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Another $1.8 million will cover costs to continue demolishing dilapidated properties throughout the resort. The agency has worked with city officials on that initiative, resulting in either the demolition or owner-financed improvements of dozens of buildings last year, city records show.
Steel Pier also secured final approval for plans and a $6.1 million loan for the $20 million first phase of an overhaul planned for the 1,000-foot-long structure. The three-part project is expected to cost $102 million when it is completed by the end of 2015. And the CRDA board supported launching five feasibility studies, each costing about $50,000 and targeted at a particular component of the Master Plan.
The fastest visible results likely will be seen with Atlantic Avenue façade improvements and innovation pavilions on the Boardwalk, Thompson said.
Within the next year, one demo pavilion will be established and others could be running before 2013, said CRDA executive director John Palmieri.
The agency will spend another $50,000 figuring out exactly how and where to upgrade blighted, inactive areas between the Boardwalk and Pacific Avenue so they look better until more permanent development occurs. Known as Boardwalk flex fields, the spruced-up areas could feature sculpture gardens and other “soft, passive uses” on land that ultimately will be used for sports fields and sporting activities, Palmieri said.
The CRDA will lease targeted properties from current owners, he said.
“If a month later, somebody wants to invest a sizeable amount of money in a project, it’s theirs,” said Board Chairman James Kehoe.
The board will also determine which of the nearly 80 properties that “need attention” along Atlantic Avenue they should prioritize for the façade improvement program, Palmieri said.
It will, among other things, require owners to get rid of overnight security gates to qualify for the government subsidy.
“We’d encourage them to come on a volunteer basis at first, but after that, we’d use every legal tool available to us,” Kehoe said when asked by Tourism District Advisory Board Commissioner William Cheatham whether the agency would engage in any “arm twisting” to get businesses to get on board with the program.
With a long-running façade improvement program of its own, Main Street Atlantic City will work closely with the CRDA to facilitate the initiative, said Pam Fields, executive director of the organization.
“We’ve done it before,” Palmieri said of the program. “But we want to be a bit more focused and strategic, and identify those key properties we should be paying attention to,” Palmieri said. “We understand how important it is … to reintegrate these commercial corridors into the city’s heart and soul.”

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CRDA Funding Initiatives
$9.9 million for Atlantic City Tourism District initiatives
$6.1 million: CRDA loan to Steel Pier for first phase of three-part renovation
$1.2 million: 990 trash cans and recyling bins from Recyling Resource Inc.
$1.8 million: limit on contracts with companies to board up and demolish buildings citywide.
$300,000: Atlantic City Community Development Program. Includes grants up to 30 percent of production costs – no more than $25,000 – to groups to put on live entertainment that is free and open to the public.
$250,000: feasibility studies for five initiatives recommended by the Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan.
They are:
Boardwalk flex fields
Atlantic Avenue facades
Corporate-sponsored innovation Boardwalk pavilions
Inlet Beach park, a landscaped vantage point meant to draw attention to and provide an observation area for Absecon Inlet’s picturesque views
Increased activity along Pacific and Michigan avenues through patio-style dining and street-accessible retail in converted ground floors of casino parking garages.
$150,000: limit for spending on transportation consulting from AECOM/Shropshire LLC.
$127,960: contract for façade improvements to 3100 block of the Boardwalk. The block begins with between Montpelier and Chelsea avenues and is home to businesses including Celebrity Corner pizzeria and bar.
Ian Lazarus
The Lazarus Team
The Landis Co., Realtors
609-457-0258
ian.lazarus@mygo2realtor.com
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Sea Isle City, NJ Polar Bear Plunge Event 2012

Video of the Polar Bear Plunge 2012 in Sea Isle City. Watch the mass of people plunge into the atlantic ocean for this very very freezing ritual. February 18, 2012 the temperture was 51 degrees when the participates when in the water at approximately 2pm. The media suggested over 40,000 people were on the beach that afternoon. What a great day for Sea Isle City.

Produced by The Lazarus Team, The Landis Co. Realtors. 609-457-0258, Ian and Rami Lazarus

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Online vacation site ranks Wildwood Boardwalk as best in the nation

By CAITLIN DINEEN, Staff Writer Press of Atlantic City

Wildwood’s Boardwalk reigned supreme in an online ranking of the best boardwalks in the United States by tourism web site Family Vacation Critic, beating out Coney Island and nine other tourist spots.“Wildwood is one of the most popular and kitschiest boardwalks in the country,” reads the site. “The Doo-Wop architecture evokes a nostalgic, honky-tonk atmosphere along the five-mile, free beach — rated the top beach in New Jersey.”Other boardwalks listed: included Santa Cruz Beach, Chicago Navy Pier, Old Orchard Beach Pier & Boardwalk in Maine, Kemah Boardwalk in Texas, Virginia Beach, Mission Beach Pacific Boardwalk in California, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, Long Beach Boardwalk in Oregon, and Ocean City Boardwalk in Maryland.The web site described Wildwood’s combinations of games and rides as just one of the reasons the Cape May County boardwalk won.“The two-mile stretch of boardwalk has everything you could want, from funnel cakes to game houses and enough amusement rides to rival Disneyland,” the site reads.Wildwood officials said they were glad to be recognized.“It’s a great honor to be recognized as the number one Beach Boardwalk for Families in the nation,” John Siciliano, Executive Director for the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority said in a press release Friday. “We owe this recognition to the hard work and determination of the hundreds of small business owners who bring their vision and innovation to the myriad of shops, attractions, arcades, games and eateries that together make the Wildwoods’ Boardwalk second to none.”Family Vacation Critics is produced by The Independent Traveler, Inc., which also produces Cruise Critic, a cruise news and review Web site.This is not the first time the Wildwoods boardwalk has received accolades.

Last year, they were listed as one of National Geographic Traveler’s “Top 10 U.S. Boardwalks” and in 2009 they were a top ten boardwalk by Forbes Traveler’s.

Ian Lazarus

The Lazarus Team

The Landis Co., Realtors609-457-0258ian.lazarus@mygo2realtor.com

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Sea Isle City, NJ Real Estate Data Report

Cape May County

Sea Isle City

Population in July 2009: 2,914. Population change since 2000: +2.8%

Males: 1,391 (47.8%)
Females: 1,523 (52.2%)

 

Median resident age: 51.3 years
New Jersey median age: 36.7 years

Zip codes: 08243.

Estimated median household income in 2009: $49,648 (it was $45,708 in 2000)

Sea Isle City: $49,648
New Jersey: $68,342

Estimated per capita income in 2009: $38,750

Sea Isle City city income, earnings, and wages data

Estimated median house or condo value in 2009: $625,556 (it was $257,200 in 2000)

Sea Isle City: $625,556
New Jersey: $348,300

Mean prices in 2009: All housing units: $689,584; Detached houses: $696,079; Townhouses or other attached units: $808,378; In 2-unit structures: $620,794; In 3-to-4-unit structures: $549,378; In 5-or-more-unit structures: $497,407

Median gross rent in 2009: $250.

Recent home sales, real estate maps, and home value estimator for zip code 08243

Sea Isle City, NJ residents, houses, and apartments details

  • White alone – 2,771 (94.5%)
  • Hispanic – 146 (5.0%)
  • American alone – 15 (0.5%)

    Jan. 2011 cost of living index in Sea Isle City: 112.0 (more than average, U.S. average is 100)

Ancestries: Irish (38.8%), German (24.0%), Italian (22.3%), English (12.7%), Polish (6.3%), United States (5.0%).

Current Local Time: 4:41:18 PMEST time zone

Incorporated in 1907

Elevation: 6 feet

Land area: 2.20 square miles.

Population density: 1323 people per square mile (low).
For population 25 years and over in Sea Isle City:

  • High school or higher: 85.2%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 28.3%
  • Graduate or professional degree: 9.8%
  • Unemployed: 6.5%
  • Mean travel time to work (commute): 22.0 minutes

For population 15 years and over in Sea Isle City city:

  • Never married: 23.1%
  • Now married: 54.9%
  • Separated: 1.9%
  • Widowed: 11.8%
  • Divorced: 8.4%

94 residents are foreign born (2.3% Europe, 0.5% Asia, 0.4% Latin America).

This city: 3.3%
New Jersey: 17.5%

According to our research there was one registered sex offender living in Sea Isle City, New Jersey in July 2011
The ratio of number of residents in Sea Isle City to the number of sex offenders is 2914 to 1.
The number of registered sex offenders compared to the number of residents in this city is near the state average.

Median real estate property taxes paid for housing units with mortgages in 2009: $3,088 (0.5%)
Median real estate property taxes paid for housing units with no mortgage in 2009: $4,231 (0.7%)

Nearest city with pop. 50,000+: Vineland, NJ (28.6 miles , pop. 56,271).

Nearest city with pop. 200,000+: Philadelphia, PA (63.6 miles , pop. 1,517,550).

Nearest cities: Avalon borough, NJ (2.0 miles ), Strathmere, NJ (2.0 miles) , Stone Harbor borough, NJ (2.7 miles ), Cape May Court House, NJ (2.9 miles ), Woodbine borough, NJ (2.9 miles ), Ocean City, NJ (3.2 miles ), Corbin City, NJ (3.3 miles ), North Wildwood, NJ (3.4 miles ).

Single-family new house construction building permits:

  • 1996: 74 buildings, average cost: $65,300
  • 1997: 125 buildings, average cost: $85,800
  • 1998: 146 buildings, average cost: $86,900
  • 1999: 203 buildings, average cost: $97,400
  • 2000: 240 buildings, average cost: $99,900
  • 2001: 193 buildings, average cost: $119,400
  • 2002: 172 buildings, average cost: $99,200
  • 2003: 207 buildings, average cost: $112,500
  • 2004: 169 buildings, average cost: $131,100
  • 2005: 237 buildings, average cost: $166,200
  • 2006: 149 buildings, average cost: $186,300
  • 2007: 86 buildings, average cost: $181,200
  • 2008: 86 buildings, average cost: $141,800
  • 2009: 72 buildings, average cost: $136,400
  • 2010: 36 buildings, average cost: $198,200
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Sea Isle City Polar Bear Plunge Set for February 18, 2012

POLAR BEAR PLUNGE WEEKEND HIGHLIGHTS:

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–2012 Polar Bear Plunge Weekend is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, February 17, 18 & 19 (President’s Day Weekend). The Polar Bear Prince, Princess, King and Queen will be crowned on Friday night, the Polar Bear Costume Contest is Saturday at noon, the Plunge itself is Saturday at 2:00 p.m., the Polar Bear 5K Run/1.5-mile Walk for Autism is Sunday at 12:15 p.m. and other activities will take place throughout the weekend (263-3756 or visit www.lacosta-seaisle.com).
–iPad Notebooks will be awarded to each winner of the 2012 Polar Bear Plunge King, Queen, Prince and Princess Contests on February 17 (courtesy of the SIC Chamber of Commerce & Revitalization). Also, the 2012 King and Queen will each receive two round-trip airline tickets onboard Spirit Airlines (courtesy of Longport Media & Kool 98.3 FM). To become a contestant, download an application form at www.seaislecitynj.us, or call 263-9090 (Prince and Princess Contest) or 263-3756 (King and Queen Contest) for more details.
–Polar Bear Plunge Volunteers are needed to register participants and give direction during the Plunge on February 18 and during the 5K Run for Autism on February 19. To volunteer during the plunge, please phone 263-3611. To volunteer during the 5K, please phone (609) 778-8418 or visit www.polarbearrunwalkforautism.com.
–A Polar Bear Plunge Jitney Service will be available on Saturday, February 18, starting at 9:00 a.m. and running into the late evening. The Jitney will make stops along Landis Avenue, JFK Boulevard and Park Road (Fish Alley). The fee to ride the Jitney will be $2 per person.
–Commemorative Polar Bear Plunge Beach Tags will be on sale during 2012 Plunge Weekend (not that you need a tag to take the plunge on February 18). The tags, which can be purchased at the Beach Tag Office during plunge weekend, will serve as regular seasonal beach passes for the summer of 2012. They cost $20 each (the pre-season beach tag price) and they make great gifts! For more info, visit www.seaislecitynj.us and click the “Government” and “Beach Tags” tabs.
–The Strathmere Ensemble will perform at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 19, inside the SIC United Methodist Church, JFK Boulevard and Park Road. Admission is free however donations are encouraged (263-9090).
–A Fish Fry Dinner Fund Raiser will be held at The Lobster Loft Restaurant on Sunday, February 19, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., hosted by the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Daughters of Saint Joseph Church to benefit their many charitable efforts throughout the year. Tickets are $20 per person (263-6171).

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Revel Resort to open in Atlantic City April 2

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI Staff Writer

The first new Atlantic City casino in nine years will make its much-anticipated debut sooner than expected.

Revel will begin welcoming guests April 2, beginning an eight-week preview that will culminate in a formal grand opening celebration during Memorial Day weekend, the casino announced Thursday.

 

 

Developer Revel Entertainment Group LLC said previously that the $2.4 billion megaresort would open for business May 15 but decided to push up the date after construction proceeded weeks ahead of schedule.

Kevin DeSanctis, the casino’s chief executive officer, said slot machines and table games will be ready April 2, but Revel plans to bring hotel rooms, restaurants, pools, nightclubs, retail shops and other nongaming attractions online in stages. Revel will be Atlantic City’s first smoke-free casino, he noted.

The entire gaming resort will stage its premiere May 25, the kickoff to Memorial Day weekend and the informal start of Atlantic City’s peak summer tourist season. The hotel will begin accepting reservations March 5.

“By Memorial Day, we should be in pretty good shape, but frankly, I would expect us to hit our stride around the Fourth of July weekend,” DeSanctis said during a conference call Thursday.

DeSanctis promised there will be a spectacular grand opening highlighted by big-name entertainment in Revel’s 5,500-seat concert hall. Names will be announced later, he said.

“We are clearly going to have entertainment that is very impressive,” DeSanctis said. “Our view is, entertainment will be important not only to us, but to Atlantic City.”

Revel is billing itself more as a “lifestyle resort” than a typical casino hotel. The beach-themed property features a glass-covered, curvy facade that appears as though it were sculpted by waves. DeSanctis explained that Revel hopes to distinguish itself from other casinos in town by integrating its modern architecture and attractions with the beach and ocean.

“I think as people walk through, everybody comes up with their own ‘wow factor,’” he said. “Clearly, when you think of the design of the building, it’s architecturally pleasing.”

Revel also will break from the pack by offering Atlantic City’s first smoke-free casino. DeSanctis acknowledged trepidation about going smoke-free in an industry long known for customers puffing away on cigarettes and cigars while playing at the slot machines and gaming tables.

“Whenever you try something new, you’re always a little concerned about it,” he said.

Anti-smoking groups immediately hailed Revel’s decision, saying it would not only save customers from having to breathe smoky air but also would benefit the employees.

“The air quality in Revel will be superior to every other smoke-infested casino in Atlantic City. We applaud Revel for their vision and their business sense for ensuring their customers and employees don’t breathe cancer-causing air,” said Stephanie Steinberg, chairwoman of Smoke-Free Gaming of America.

Karen Blumenfeld, executive director of Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy, or GASP, said Revel is simply catering to the wishes of the general population.

“From a financial perspective, it makes sense to be smoke-free, especially when you have the overwhelming majority of people who don’t smoke and not only prefer but demand a smoke-free environment. Revel is delivering on that,” Blumenfeld said.

Revel overlooks the Boardwalk next to the Showboat Casino Hotel. It will have 1,800 hotel rooms and employ about 5,500 workers. Revel is the first casino to open in Atlantic City since Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in 2003.

“Revel’s announcement of its April 2 opening is great news, and it will mark the start of an exciting new era for Atlantic City,” said Linda M. Kassekert, chair of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. “This new property will expand the market as it draws in new visitors to experience its shops, restaurants, spa, clubs and other amenities.”

Kassekert noted that the commission is working closely with Revel and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to complete the licensing process in time for the opening.

DGE Director David Rebuck said his agency expects to complete its licensing report on Revel for the commission’s regularly scheduled March 14 board meeting. Barring last-minute glitches, the commission is expected to give Revel regulatory approval to open.

“We are pushing hard to give him everything he needs to get open,” Rebuck said of the regulatory approvals sought by DeSanctis.

Although Revel will open for business in April, the casino will host a dress rehearsal for about 5,000 invited guests from the local community March 29 and 30. DeSanctis said the dry run will allow Revel to test its systems and work out any potential operating problems, under the scrutiny of state gaming regulators, before the real gambling starts April 2.

During Revel’s preview, customers will experience seven of 14 restaurants created by celebrity chefs Alain Allegretti, Marc Forgione, Jose Garces and Robert Wiedmaier. Additional restaurants and bars will open each week as the property heads toward Memorial Day.

About 500 hotel rooms will be brought online each week. Revel’s array of retail shops will not open April 2 but should be ready for a mass opening sometime in May, DeSanctis said.

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Sea Isle City, NJ plans budget with no tax increase

By MICHAEL MILLER, Press of Atlantic City

SEA ISLE CITY – City Council will vote next month on a $24 million budget that will not raise the local tax rate for the third year in a row.

 

The city is levying $14.2 million of its budget from taxpayers, up about $100,000 from the previous year.

 

The budget anticipates collecting about $40,000 more in beach-tag sales than last year’s budget after visitors and residents paid $1.2 million in 2011.

 

Sea Isle anticipates a surplus of $1.4 million, or about $300,000 more than in 2011.

The city was the first municipality in Cape May County to introduce its 2012 budget last month. A public hearing is scheduled for March 13.

 

Residents can look forward to a federal beach-replenishment project and more public improvements to JFK Boulevard, with a new parking lot at the site of the former library and more public entertainment at the new Excursion Park, Desiderio said.

 

The city is creating a walking corridor from the Promenade to the bay along JFK Boulevard. The public improvements last year included a new playground, veterans memorial, public bandstand and park.

 

The city plans to expand its concert schedule at Bracca Plaza this summer with help from the city’s chamber of commerce, Mayor Leonard Desiderio said.

“That has been a home run for us,” he said. “The business community sponsors the entertainment there, and that helps.”

Copies of the budget are available at City Hall or online under the city government tab at www.seaislecitynj.us.