ATLANTIC CITY — It is a tract of land long targeted for another casino in Atlantic City’s Marina District, back past the Golden Nugget along the bay, looking toward Brigantine.
But now the land’s owner, MGM Resorts International, which also owns the nearby Borgata but has never built a casino of its own in Atlantic City, says it is partnering with Boraie Development LLC to explore a project known as “M Residences.”
Boraie is the developer of 600 NoBe at North Beach, Atlantic City’s first market-rate rental housing in 40 years, a block from Ocean Casino Resort, the former Revel. Boraie had imagined second-home owners flocking to the units, but early leases have attracted casino workers and professionals.
On Tuesday, City Council President Marty Small Sr. stood by the tract behind the Golden Nugget and described a community of luxury single-family homes and condos with a “gated community feel” that would be owner-occupied, not rentals. He also said time shares were possible.
The community would have a pool and other amenities, including restaurants and retail. He said he hoped it would attract both second-home owners and the growing community of professionals working in Atlantic City at places like the island campus of Stockton University, Atlanticare, and South Jersey Gas.
“My vision is to attract the middle class back,” Small said. “A lot of my peers are teachers and administrators in the Atlantic City public school system. They always say, ‘We want to come back.’”
The project needs a zoning change to allow residential use, and approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. Small said he hoped there would be incentives available for people such as police officers, teachers, and firefighters working in Atlantic City.
Wasseem Boraie said Tuesday that the planned development would help transform the Marina District, home to Borgata, Harrah’s, and the Golden Nugget, into a cohesive neighborhood. He believes the clientele that now favors Marina casinos over the Boardwalk would consider a second home purchase nearby.
“A lot of these folks go to Florida for the winter,” he said. “We always believed there could be a really big second-home market in Atlantic City. We think putting in pockets of high-end residential will create connectivity between the casinos and actually further the neighborhood in the Marina District.”
Small praised New Brunswick-based Boraie for the success of his rental complex at 600 Atlantic Avenue. “When others were running out of Atlantic City, he had faith in Atlantic City," Small said.
Small noted that taxes have stabilized in Atlantic City over the last four years, and said studies have shown Atlantic City to be ripe for a second-home boom.
MGM explored building a casino in the Marina District, but instead bought out Boyd Gaming to become full owner of the Borgata. The economy argues against another casino, with five having closed since 2014, though two have reopened under new owners.
MGM spokesperson Jocelyn Kelly issued a statement confirming that the resort company had entered into a memorandum of understanding with Boraie over the land on Huron Avenue and Atlantic-Brigantine Blvd (technically Block 571, Lot 2).
The statement said the memorandum was “to explore the feasibility of a residential project.”
“We are fortunate to be working with Boraie, a company that brings a 30-year track record in real estate development in New Jersey, including the recently completed NoBeach project in Atlantic City,” the statement said. “We believe there is strong demand in the high-quality primary and second-home market, and Boraie is the best possible partner to execute this project.”
The casino company cautioned that "at this time we have not yet established the project’s feasibility, and it is subject to extensive regulatory approvals.”