The road to a future of any sort for the troubled former Revel casino remained stubbornly murky Thursday as the thought process and intentions of would-be buyer Glenn Straub came under close, sometimes uncomfortable, scrutiny.
Straub, a Florida developer, himself was called to the stand and delivered a lengthy, rambling, borderline-coherent explanation of his decision making in the case. He appeared at times near tears, talking of his foundation, his health, his daughter, his projects in Miami, his goals of "helping ... the world."
The current sale order was a modification of an earlier agreement to sell to Straub, cutting the price from $95.4 million to $82 million. But because the earlier sale order is being appealed in federal court by tenants of Revel, the judge said she was unsure if she had authority to approve a modified order.
Doubt was also cast on whether Straub would close on the property March 31 even with an approved sale order and $82 million in escrow. Straub said before the hearing that obtaining title to the property would be difficult with pending litigation from spurned tenants like the HQ Nightclub as well as ACR Energy, which supplies energy to the property. Others argued that Straub would complete a "phantom closing" at best.
John Cunningham, attorney for Revel, told the judge that despite a flurry of interest from various last-minute bidders, there was just one actual bid in hand, the one from Straub.
Tom Kreller, attorney for Wells Fargo, which is financing the bankruptcy process, told the judge "There is no more time." Burns also said she felt a "time urgency" to settle with the "high season" of Atlantic City approaching. He said urging the court to accept the $82 million offer was unpleasant but the only solution to avoid sending the estate "further down the rabbit hole."
However, Robert Dakis, attorney for a handful of restaurants inside Revel, begged the judge not to approve the sale to Straub to allow other bidders to firm up offers.
He questioned Straub's intent to actually close on the property on March 31, given his history of litigation and failing to close on an earlier $95.4 million bid. He suggested the judge schedule an auction inside her courtroom for later this month, a proposal the judge rejected.
Ramy Ibrahim, an investment banker who has been marketing the property, said the company had had inquiries with 19 parties in the last week, including 7 new ones.
Among 11th hour potential bidders are Los Angeles developer Izek Shomof, whose DTLA company tentatively offered $80 million but ran into difficulties with ACR Energy. They have not submitted an official bid. Lawyers for DTLA and a second potential bidder were in court Thursday.
Stuart Brown, attorney for ACR, said the energy plant could make deals with other bidders in the next week. He also questioned the ultimate jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court over the process, given other appeals taking place in U.S. District Court.
Stuart Moskovitz, attorney for Straub, stressed to the judge that his client's bid was the only legitimate offer. He said the case would convert to a liquidation if his client's bid was spurned.
"Nobody else has come forward and put even a dollar at risk," he said.
The judge wondered at one point if the case would end up as a foreclosure in state court. And she acknowledgd that even with an approved sale, nothing was a done deal in Revel Land.
"If (Straub) doesn't close, how do we know ayone else will either?" he said.
Gwynne said his clients remained undeterred by the bizarre Revel case, which he called "a train wreck." He said his clients had had productive discussions with ACR Energy.
"We're not worried about Polo North," Gwynne said, of Straub's company. "We're just focusing on ourselves. The train is already wrecked.