By JENNIFER BOGDAN, Staff Writer at The Press of Atlantic City | Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 9:27 pm
Crews have begun dismantling a noted eyesore that has towered over the Boardwalk at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard for years.
The former Peanut World billboard has sat unused and rusting while local officials have called for its removal. Three years ago, the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority discussed advertising on the space, but plans were later scrapped after the integrity of the structure was questioned, and it has continued to sit untouched.
Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Executive Director John Palmieri said land use enforcement officers flagged the structure and were adamant in working with owners Robert and Abraham Schiff to have it taken down. The Schiffs are paying for the structure’s removal.
“It’s a big, ugly, very visible sign that’s finally coming down. When something is that prominently displayed in such poor condition, it has an impact,” Palmieri said. “This is an example of a property owner’s willingness to respond to a problem.”
The CRDA took over land-use functions, including planning and zoning responsibilities, within the Tourism District two years ago when state legislation created the district. Code-enforcement functions, however, remain with the city.
The CRDA has agreed to give the city $130,000 to hire two full-time or four part-time code enforcement officers dedicated to the Tourism District after city officials said inadequate staffing was to blame for any unaddressed violations. The city’s codes department is operating with about half of the staffing required under city code.
A request for proposals has been issued by the city to hire a contractor for the work, but an agreement between the city and the CRDA has not yet been signed.
CRDA spokesman Kim Butler said the Peanut World billboard had not been removed previously because there was some confusion over its ownership rights that were recently settled.
The billboard is just past the foot of where the former Sands Casino Hotel stood. A public art display financed by the Atlantic City Alliance currently occupies the site. Earlier this month, owner Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. reached an agreement to sell the land for $30.6 million.
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