Will 2015 be a better year for Atlantic City?
It wouldn't be easy for Atlantic City to experience a worse year than the one that just ended. According to the mayor of the struggling town, the healing begins in 2015.
Mayor Don Guardian said the four casino closures and thousands of lost jobs in 2014 have overshadowed the actual progress that's going on in Atlantic City. There are "cranes in the sky," he said, representing new life and new jobs for his town.
"Jobs for Atlantic City residents, and for South Jersey, is going to be a key part of the success for 2015," Guardian said.
By the end of April, Bass Pro Shops will open its location within The Walk, bringing with it several hundred employment opportunities. Later in the year, a new conference center at Harrah's should be ready to go.
The Pier Shops at Caesar's, meanwhile, is scheduled for a major overhaul. Solid plans for the under-performing shopping center are expected before February. According to Guardian, the "over the top, spectacular" changes will target the millennial generation.
Over 500 homes are under construction at six sites in the city. Some will be available for rent or purchase in 2015.
Guardian also hinted at plans to bring The Atlantic Club back to life by summer in a non-gaming capacity. Stockton College will be reopening the former Showboat as a location for housing by late spring, and classes will first be held in the summer or fall.
On the gambling front, Guardian noted the still-standing casinos in Atlantic City are performing much stronger today than they were this time last year.
A third "summit" of interested leaders and stakeholders is expected to be held this month to examine possible ways to stop the bleeding in Atlantic City. At the same, New Jersey lawmakers are working towards agreeing on sweeping legislation that would assist the city's casinos, businesses and taxpayers.
"We're moving on to what we needed to be, which is a destination resort beyond just gaming, and jobs beyond just tourism," Guardian said.
The casino shutdowns of 2014 started in January when The Atlantic Club shuttered its doors. Showboat closed on Aug. 31, Revel went dark on Sept. 2 and Trump Plaza closed on Sept. 16. The closures resulted in the loss of 8,000 jobs.