At a fancy press conference at the Pier Shops in Atlantic City, Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein declared his feud with Caesars president Kevin Ortzman over and unveiled his $50 million plans for "Playground:" a pier filled with music and bars that will spill out to the deck around the pier and the beach.
Blatstein said he had settled his dispute over the ownership of the Pier with Ortzman, who had previuosly referred to Blatstein as a "rogue occupier" of the Pier in a lawsuit. Ortzman, with a public relations person doing blocking for him, declined to answer any questions about his recent role in Atlantic City. Caesars has closed Showboat, sued Blatstein and complicated Stockton's takeover of Showboat.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian was all jokes, despite the dire state of his city, saying "Kevin Ortzman, are you here? Bart Blatstein wants to make sure you don't evict us."
The concept for the Pier, currently a mostly-failed, half unoccupied luxury mall with a busy Apple Store and Tiffany, is modeled after Beale Street in Memphis, 6th Street in Austin, Texas, and Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Blatstein and partner Paul Steelman, a noted casino architect stated.
It will include a new 2,000 seat music venue, 39N, named, like Borgata's 28 West, after the longitudinal position, and a "T Street" first floor strip of bars and restaurants that Blatstein said will offer casual, live music venues, including a "Monkey Bar" to go with the Playground theme. He said those venues would be open by July 4th.
Open by the end of the year, he promised, would be an upstairs "Bart Bowl" that would also feature live music, and a Varsity Sports Bar.
Blatstein said he hoped to add 500 new jobs to the existing 400 at the Pier. And he said he would open up the pier to the beach, adding windows, deck space and using the adjacent beach as a music venue. He said there are plans for a "beach club and pool on the south side of the Pier."
He said the Apple Store, the One Atlantic wedding and event venue on the top floor, and the restaurants on the third floor, including Continental and Buddakan, would remain.
Blatstein, who sees himself as a transformative developer of Northern Liberties, promised he would not fail in this - or any - venture. He and Steelman said they planned to turn Atlantic City into "the entertainment capital of the East Coast."
Blatstein bought the Pier Shops for $2.7 million (Caesars still owns the Pier itself). It cost $200 million to build.