ATLANTIC CITY (February 19, 2020) – The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority adopted its vacant rooming house conversion plan Tuesday and entered into a loan agreement with the program’s first applicant.
The CRDA Board of Directors allocated a total of $1.2 million for the conversion program, with the expectation that the funding could be used for roughly four projects.
The goal of the project is to reduce the number of rooming houses that do not comply with current land-use or local regulations, as well as improve the housing stock throughout the city, CRDA officials say.
“CRDA anticipates that the vacant rooming house conversion project will encourage developers to purchase and improve these properties, help reduce the overwhelming burden of rooms in Atlantic City, protect Atlantic City residents by providing improved housing conditions and revitalize numerous properties here in Atlantic City,” Executive Director Matt Doherty said.
CRDA hopes to entice property owners and developers to convert vacant rooming homes into other “lawful” uses, such as apartments, hotels, mixed-use buildings or single-family homes.
Board Chairman Robert Mulcahy said the program was “progress in an area that we’ve had little progress in” over a long period of time.
“It’s a pilot project,” said Board Vice Chairman Richard Tolson. “The city and the residents have identified (rooming houses as) an area of great concern. It’s an initial commitment from the CRDA to dedicate funds to change that. We hope to be successful with this.”
Following the adoption of the plan, the board approved an interest-bearing loan of up to $328,800 for the owner of the former rooming house at 26 S. Kentucky Ave. to convert the building into apartments with a possible retail front on the street level. Including the purchase of the property and the rehabilitation of the structure, the total cost of the conversion project was estimated to be $537,000.
Board member Edward Gant was the lone no vote on the Kentucky Avenue project, citing reservations about the applicant’s conversion proposal. Gant said he was concerned the applicant had submitted a proposal with very little financial flexibility.
“I support the idea, (but) I’m skeptical of this project,” Gant said.
The board also approved $1.74 million in grant funding to the city for renovations and improvements at Gardner’s Basin. The CRDA grant is in addition to the $1 million grant from the state Green Acres Program and another $1 million from the state Department of Community Affairs to be used for Gardner’s Basin restoration and upgrades.
The funding from the various sources will be used to maintain the Atlantic City Aquarium, as well as improve parking availability, install additional lighting and other projects, such as dredging the marina and replacing damaged bulkheads.
In other business, CRDA approved an amendment to the Wave Garage lease agreement with Stockton University that allowed the college to settle an outstanding balance for nearly $100,000 less than what was owed.
The board also awarded a demolition contract for the former Patsy Wallace site on Arctic Avenue. Iaconelli Contracting Inc. was awarded the contract for up to $41,580 to remove the masonry wall and steel frame of the deteriorated building on CRDA-owned land.
Emergency asbestos removal services were paid, in an amount not to exceed $511,067, for work completed at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall. The asbestos was found during an electrical project and required immediate remediation.
Two additional service awards were approved by the board for as-needed work at Boardwalk Hall and the Atlantic City Convention Center. A masonry contract, not to exceed $250,000, was awarded to MPG. A total of four contracts were awarded to HMR Architects, Lacy Thaler Reilly Wilson Architects & Preservation, Clarke Caton Hintz and Easton Architects for historic preservation services not to exceed $500,000.
The board also purchased three all-terrain vacuums from Grainger for cleanup work in the Tourism District. The total amount of the purchase was $136,998.