9 Sep

Livid owner says Revel Casino Resort Atlantic City may never reopen

Will Straub's casino resort Revel Atlantic City ever reopenThings got heated yesterday at a meeting between Glenn Straub, owner of the formerly closed Revel casino resort in Atlantic City, and the state’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) Land Use Board. Straub, who had planned to reopen he property in June, flipped out on the Board, verbally withdrawing his application before walking out on the hearing.

The Revel Atlantic City is a relatively new gambling resort on the New Jersey Boardwalk; a $2.4 billion project that first opened its doors in April 2012. The timing was terrible, as a devastating hurricane swept the coast later that year, destroying the local economy. Two years and a pair of bankruptcy filings later, the Revel Casino was shuttered.

Then in late 2015, Glenn Straub, a real estate development tycoon from Florida, came along and rescued the Revel, purchasing it for $82 million – a mere fraction of its worth. He vowed to have the hotel reopened by June 2016. That date has come and gone, and according to Straub, the fault lies solely with state officials, who he claims have impeded his progress at every turn.

The casino resort’s new owner is clearly fed up with it, resulting in a vehement outburst at yesterday’s hearing that saw him verbally retract his application and walk out on the state’s CRDA Land Use Board. But according to his attorney, the process is not done, the application is not withdrawn, and the Revel will eventually reopen, preferably “sooner than later”.

Straub Flips Out on Board

Problems arose when plans for the Revel, officially owned by Straub’s company, North Polo Country Club (NPCC), involved a change in the traffic patterns through the property. The CRDA required NPCC submit an application to approve the changes. That application was put before the board in a meeting last month, but was rejected for not being “thorough and complete”.

At Thursday’s meeting, Board Chairman Paul Weiss said the Atlantic City casino’s landscaping plans would also be a factor in authorization. That set Straub off like a firecracker.

“We got $200,000 in this simple application and you’re now adding up landscaping, 100,000 plants on that property? We’re not going to keep changing things. We’ll leave it go the way it is,” he erupted.

“The CRDA is asking the applicant to produce, as is required under municipal land use law, a landscaping plan,” responded Weiss calmly. “Plant as many plants as you wish. Plant them in what ever variety you wish. We want a plan that demonstrates compliance with the law. That’s all.”

“The application is withdrawn,” came Straub’s succinct reply, shortly before he walked out.

Hope Remains for Revel Atlantic City

The meeting didn’t end there, though. Without his presence, Straub’s attorney, Nicholas Talvacchica, took over his end of the proceedings. He told the Board the application was not withdrawn, and that NPCC would move forward with plans.

The CRDA will meet again on Sept 20 to make its recommendation on the application, but there’s another issue looming overhead. NPCC has an outstanding debt for Special District Improvement assessments, and the company already stated it will fight the CRDA to have the debt squashed.

Another unresolved issue has been what Straub intends to do with the property. In the past, he’s stated that he may use the Revel for anything from housing Syrian refugees, to turning it into a college campus – a “university of geniuses”, in his own words.

Talvacchica told the Board that the plan is to open the Revel as a hotel, with the possibility of opening it as a casino resort. When asked for a timeline on when other amenities might be available at the property, the attorney could give no clear answer, but said “everything is moving forward,” and that “the goal is to open it sooner than later.”