Posted: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 10:45 pm
ATLANTIC CITY — The state agency overseeing Atlantic City’s tourism and redevelopment projects approved new attractions Tuesday that promise to elevate the entertainment scene, add some sparkle to the Boardwalk and improve public safety.
Also approved were a new outdoor concert venue and a new nightclub at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. In another vote at its monthly board meeting, the CRDA approved $1.3 million to fund two major beach concerts this summer as well as live entertainment at the Boardwalk’s Kennedy Plaza. No performers have been announced yet for the beach concerts.
Taken together, the new lights and entertainment attractions reflect Atlantic City’s efforts to diversify its amenities beyond casino gambling. Casinos are adding new conference centers, glitzy light shows and other nongambling attractions to tempt customers.
In particular, the city and the casinos have begun taking greater advantage of the beaches and Boardwalk as a tourist hub and focal point for entertainment.
The CRDA is looking to make the Boardwalk more aesthetically appealing and safer by funding the installation of 164 LED light poles between Albany and Rhode Island avenues. The lights will illuminate what have been some darker, more foreboding sections of the 4-mile-long wooden promenade caused by four casino closings last year.
Mayor Don Guardian noted that the high-tech light poles will include interactive, theatrical and decorative features to add some “pizzazz” to the Boardwalk for tourists.
Amid a week of major announcements concerning the future of Atlantic City, business and government leaders at a conference Friday outlined an array of major projects they said would transform …
In addition, the lighting project includes plans for 72 new security cameras on the Boardwalk and at street ends — something the mayor and others characterized as a “huge” boost for public safety. The cameras will be linked directly to a police surveillance center through a fiber-optic network.
“I think it’s going to do wonders for us,” police Lt. Jim Sarkos said of the impact of the cameras on public safety for tourists and local residents. “I think we’re going to be the envy of many other places.”
CRDA officials estimated the first batch of lights and cameras will be ready for the Fourth of July, but it will take four or five months before all of them are installed.
In a final part of the project, nearly 190 existing, Victorian-style lamp poles will be removed from the Boardwalk, converted to LED technology and then placed in public parks and other parts of the city.
Separate from the $12.5 million in CRDA bonds, private contractor Impactivate Networks Inc. is spending $20.8 million for 110 digital display screens on the Boardwalk that will feature advertising, movie trailers and promotional programming. Some of the programming has a local flavor, including a live broadcast of the Miss America Competition taking place inside Boardwalk Hall in September.
Under the terms of a lease agreement, Impactivate — which already has some screens on the Boardwalk — pays the city 10 percent of all gross revenue generated by its lighting displays through advertising, sponsorships and other money-making ventures.
Meanwhile, the CRDA hopes the $1.3 million in funding approved Tuesday for summer entertainment will help the city duplicate the success of two mega-concerts on the beach last year by country music stars Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum. Although no names have been announced yet for the beach concerts this summer, CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri indicated they will be major shows like the performances by Shelton and Lady Antebellum. Those concerts each drew 60,000 people to the beachfront.
“It’s a great resort experience,” Jeff Guaracino, executive director of the Atlantic City Alliance, said of the beach concerts. “It gives the Boardwalk more excitement.”
The Atlantic City Alliance, the city’s casino-funded marketing arm, underwrote the Shelton and Lady Antebellum shows. However, funding cutbacks at the ACA, as well as the possibility the private organization may go out of business altogether, prompted the CRDA to provide more money for the city’s summer entertainment lineup.
In yet another CRDA vote Tuesday, Borgata received final approval for a new nightclub inside the casino and an outdoor entertainment venue for music festivals. Borgata plans to tap the reinvestment contributions it makes to the CRDA to finance both the nightclub and outdoor concert venue, which will have a combined cost of $15 million.
Borgata will team up with show promoter Live Nation to bring top performers to the concert venue. Dubbed Festival Park, the complex will open June 13 with a daylong music celebration headlined by several bands.
Borgata’s expansion project includes construction of a new nightclub that will open by the end of the year. The new attraction will take the place of Borgata’s MIXX nightclub, a fixture at the casino since it opened in 2003.
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