Atlantic City is Making Progress, Officials Say
New Jersey lawmakers stepped away from the State House in Trenton to hold a special hearing today on efforts to improve Atlantic City.
The Assembly Tourism and the Arts Committee convened at Dante Hall Theater-Richard Stockton College to receive an update on the tourism district, as well as take testimony from invited guests concerning other issues affecting the tourism and arts industries.
The state-run district was announced by Governor Chris Christie two years ago, as part of a five-year revitalization plan for the struggling resort town. The plan called for enhanced cleanliness, public safety and aesthetics, which could eventually lead to more visitors and more revenue.
The reports offered by officials were positive overall, and they believe the "rescue plan" could pay off over time. John Palmieri, executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, cited new non-gaming investment like Margaritaville, Steel Pier and Bass Pro Shops. He also said visitors are benefiting from an increased number of "ambassadors" in the area, hospitality personnel who work closely with the city police department.
"We understand the role that the casinos play, but we need to grow from there," Palmieri said.
Testimony also proved success for an aggressive marketing campaign that launched earlier this year. According to the Atlantic City Alliance, audiences in other markets shied away from their negative feelings about the town.
Atlantic City has been battling bad news for years, and has seemed to take steps back every time Christie and local officials offered a glimmer of hope.
Most recently, Hard Rock International backed out of plans for a multi-million dollar casino hotel.
Meanwhile, the newest gaming hall, has performed below expectations since its soft opening in April. Revel was promoted as the first AC casino that would truly serve as a complete resort experience, using the city's beach advantage, but the message has apparently fallen on deaf ears.