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Tourism District Master Plan Approved The CRDA board unanimously approved a 300-page document that outlines a redevelopment strategy for Atlantic City that includes short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. Mayor and City Council support the plan, which will be detailed in a public forum March 26. By Ray Schweibert

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location and world-class resorts, and introduces new concepts that stimulate pedestrian foot traffic throughout the district,” says CRDA executive director John Palmieri. “We look forward to bringing all the elements together to create a new visitor experience in Atlantic City … No one expects this to be easy, but now we have a plan to provide direction.” Assisting the CRDA in fulfilling the master plan objectives is the newly created, non-profit entity Atlantic City Alliance (ACA), which has been given a $30 million marketing budget. The Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority (ACCVA), which had been solely in charge of marketing the city on a much smaller budget in the past, is now part of the CRDA and is supported by a membership of nearly 400 local businesses involved in the hospitality industry. The CRDA will present the master plan to the public on Monday, March 26, at noon, during a special Metropolitan Business & Citizens Association (MBCA) luncheon at Resorts’ Superstar Theater. The event will likely coincide with a new

logo and branding of Atlantic City shaping up under the direction of the ACA’s Liza Cartmell. Tickets are $40 ($50 for non-MBCA members) and are available at mbcanj.com. Reservations are required. Palmieri will be the keynote speaker of the event, dubbed “A New Day for a Great City.” The master plan addresses short-term objectives to transform the Boardwalk, Atlantic and Pacific avenues, and several cross-streets into a lively, walkable destination with shopping, entertainment, dining and nightlife venues. Mid-term objectives include the redevelopment of mid-town to create concepts such as an artists’ district and entertainment complex (including a concept conceived in the recent past called AC Live! — the fourth phase of Tanger Outlets - The Walk), invigorating Gardner’s Basin and reestablishing direct access from the Boardwalk to Gardner’s Basin, and revitalizing Kentucky Avenue with a focus on music, history and paying homage to a nightlife-and-entertainment district that made the area a tourism des-

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Big plans are in place for the city by the sea

tination within itself. Long-term objectives include the creation of a mixed-use residential and commercial area at Bader Field while continuing to use the facility for music events and festivals in the interim (thus far, five major events are scheduled to take place at Bader Field this summer, also incorporating Sandcastle Stadium). Long-term plans also call for development of new gaming and non-gaming activities in the Marina District along with a network of pedestrian and bicycle paths to connect the Marina District properties (Harrah’s, Borgata, Golden Nugget and Farley State Marina). “A successful, vibrant Atlantic City is vital to the economic growth of both the regional and state economies,” says Gov. Christie in an Associated Press article. “Exactly one year to the day of signing landmark legislation that established the Atlantic City Tourism District, we now have an ambitious, visionary road map that will transform Atlantic City and lead its comeback.” Among the key issues in the Feb. 1 meeting was a three-year, $102 million Steel Pier renovation plan. By this summer it is anticipated that the Steel Pier will offer a beer garden, several new rides and games, and spruced up building facades. Steel Pier ownership, which was in attendance during the master plan hearing, mentioned that it intends to bring back Atlantic City’s famed Diving Horse attraction, which began in the 1920s and ended in 1978 (returning for a special two-month run in summer 1993). The attraction involved specially trained horses diving into a pool of water from a 30-foot platform with girls on their back. Activist groups like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Animal Protection League of New Jersey have already begun to express their disapproval. Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce president Joseph Kelly notes that the master plan is appropriately considering a mixed focus on gaming and non-gaming businesses, and the need for Atlantic City to “diversify its product” in the face of ever-increasing gaming activity elsewhere. n

ATLANTIC CITY WEEKLY • february 9 - 15, 2012

TLANTIC CITY — One year to the date Gov. Chris Christie signed landmark legislation designed to revitalize Atlantic City and set the surrounding region on a new course for economic growth, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) adopted the Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan in a special meeting at the A.C. Convention Center on Feb. 1. The 15 CRDA board members in attendance (two could not attend) voted their support of the plan, including Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford. An estimated 300 residents, business owners and city stakeholders attended the two-hour meeting, which was also broadcast live on WOND 1400 radio. The master plan was in the works for several months after the governor mandated that the state-run CRDA oversee the redevelopment and revitalization of what would be called the Tourism District — a 1,700acre area encompassing the casinos, the Boardwalk, shopping and dining districts and Bader Field. In addition to sprucing up existing amenities, the master plan’s goals are to increase entertainment and recreational offerings and make visitors feel safe when they visit the resort. Through a newly created Web site, RevitalizeAC.com, and four public meetings held in January, the CRDA garnered input from residents, business owners and anyone with a genuine interest in offering constructive comment. Over 1,600 people responded to the Web site’s online survey, and the CRDA hired international real-estate planner Jones Lang LaSalle, the urban planning firm Jerde Partnership, and locally based engineering and law offices to assist in putting the master plan together. It was announced during the Feb. 1 meeting that the entire master plan will be made available in PDF format on the CRDA’s main Web site (njcrda.com). “This is a landmark day for Atlantic City, and CRDA is excited to be at the helm of this redevelopment undertaking,” says CRDA board chairman James Kehoe. “This plan creates an innovative model that integrates Atlantic City’s seaside

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