ATLANTIC CITY, NJ—(SBN)—Atlantic City’s fortunes over the past several decades has seemed like a “roller coaster,” but Mayor Donald Guardian is convinced that “the stars are aligning for Atlantic City.”
Speaking exclusively to StateBroadcastNews.com’s news director Steve Lubetkin, after his appearance on a panel sponsored by the Philadelphia district of the Urban Land Institute, Mayor Guardian described several positive developments over recent weeks that he believes will help counter the negative perception of Atlantic City’s prospects due to financial troubles caused by several recent casino closings and bankruptcies. Lubetkin was reporting for GlobeSt.com at the conference.
(See an exclusive video report with more comments from the mayor at the end of this news story.)
Purchase a downloadable video of the complete panel discussion in our online store.
If you prefer, you can also purchase an audio download.
“Prices are right, meaning it’s really cheap to buy property and buy buildings,” Guardian says. “New Jersey Grow is now open to Atlantic City. You have a city government that is bullish on new growth, new businesses coming to Atlantic City, and backing that up with help when you’re building, and specialty tax rates.”
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey’s new presence is also helping the city, the mayor noted. The school recently acquired the Showboat Casino and plans to reopen it as a hotel and conference venue, while also providing housing for some 400 students at the South Jersey school.
Mayor Guardian also pointed to the US Department of Labor emergency job training grant announced Tuesday for Atlantic City by Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez. The $29 million grant will help provide job training for unemployed casino workers.
The ULI program presented a panel conversation, “Strategies for a World-Class Resort City,” about the organization’s research project into development alternatives for Atlantic City. The research effort, which took place last year, was chaired by ULI senior fellow Thomas Murphy, former mayor of Pittsburgh, PA. Eight to 10 members of ULI volunteered their time to look at several areas of Atlantic City for potential development.
“We made a series of recommendations,” Murphy tells GlobeSt.com exclusively. “We talked about beginning to think and act as if Atlantic City is like any other community rather than like a city with a lot of casinos. How do you diversify your economy and how do you build a residential community?”
About 85 percent of the people who work in Atlantic City don’t live there, Murphy says, pointing out that this speaks to the opportunity to encourage such people to consider the city as a potential residence.
“At the end of the day, it’s always about leadership and vision,” says Murphy. “I think Atlantic City was plagued with leadership that was not aligned, and maybe there was not vision. People said, ‘we have casinos, what more do we need?’”
People in Atlantic City have started having the difficult conversations about what comes after being a single industry town, says Murphy, who faced the same challenge as mayor when Pittsburgh was transitioning from being the heart of the US steel industry.
“The biggest issue when you’re dealing with redevelopment is getting people to believe that things will change,” says Collingswood Mayor James Maley, a real estate attorney whose own town is experiencing an urban renaissance anchored by high-end multifamily properties like the Lumber Yard and a restaurant-oriented main street.
Other panelists at the ULI event were: Wasseem Boraie, managing member, South Inlet Partners Urban Renewal, developing the new Boraie residential complex; Victor Nappen, chair, Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce; John Palmieri, executive director, New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority; and Dr. Herman J. Saatkamp Jr., president of the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
“We’re not dead,” Mayor Guardian insists with a smile. “We’re still a cash cow for the state of New Jersey. We’re just wounded and we need a little help right now, but we’re going to bounce back, and it’s going to be good for the city, it’s going to be good for South Jersey, it’s going to be good for all the residents of New Jersey.”
Watch a StateBroadcastNews.com video report with more comments from Mayors Murphy, Maley, and Guardian in the player below.
Steve Lubetkin is the news director for StateBroadcastNews.com. Steve’s journalism background includes print and broadcast reporting for NJ news organizations. He refocused on multimedia journalism and podcast production after a long career in corporate branded journalism and public relations.
He has won numerous awards for his audio and video news reporting from the Garden State Journalists Association, and he has also been recognized for video by the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has produced a wide range of audio and video podcasts in his other role as managing partner of State Broadcast News’s parent, The Lubetkin Media Companies.
Steve is co-author, with Toronto-based podcasting pioneer Donna Papacosta, of the book, The Business of Podcasting: How to Take Your Podcasting Passion from the Personal to the Professional.
In March 2021, he was elected to the board of directors of the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and in July 2021 he was named secretary of the chapter. In August 2021, he was honored by SPJ with one of the organization’s 2021 Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Awards, given to regular members of an SPJ chapter who go above and beyond in serving their chapter.
Steve has been the computer columnist for the Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey, since 1996.
Steve also has reported on-camera and produces virtual conferences for NJSpotlightNews.org, a public policy news coverage website focused on New Jersey government and industry; and for clients of StateBroadcastNews.com, a division of The Lubetkin Media Companies LLC.
From May-November 2019, he produced and reported a weekly podcast, The CRE News Hour, a news and features program focusing on the commercial real estate industry.
From 2014 to 2019 he was New Jersey and Philadelphia editor for GlobeSt.com and filled in covering Chicago/Midwest and Atlanta.
Steve has also served (from August 2017 to March 2018) as national broadcast news correspondent for CEOReport.com, a news website focused on practical advice for senior executives in small- and medium-sized companies.
Earlier in his career, Steve reported on rock music at the Jersey Shore for the Asbury Park Press, and was a broadcast news anchor and production engineer for WJLK-AM & FM, then owned by the Press. He also worked as a general assignment reporter for the Red Bank Register, Shrewsbury, NJ.
You can email Steve at email@example.com.