SATURDAY: Tower said it paid the $2.7 million it promised for Casesars Pier. The pier's operators say they haven't received that money. There are intermediaries, and other, possibly offsetting, claims. The lawyers are working on a resolution, which is not expected to happen by next week.
LATE FRIDAY: Atlantic City Press has more on the story: Caesars and Bally's Atlantic City challenges Blatstein's right to redevelop the pier:
"Kevin Ortzman, president of Caesars and Bally's Atlantic City, has accused Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein and his company, Tower Investments LLC, of operating "illegally as trespassers" on the Pier Shops property, according to a document filed in Atlantic County Superior Court and obtained by the Press late Friday."
FRIDAY UPDATE: Blatstein has cancelled his Pier at Caesars kick-off "due to unforseen developments beyond Tower Investments' control." No new date or official explanation.
EARLIER: Next Tuesday, Feb. 24, Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein and his Tower Investments (best known for the Piazza at Schmidt's and other flashy redevelopments in North and South Philadelphia) promise to unveil his "dramatic redevelopment plans" for the Pier at Caesars, the failed $200 million, four-story, 500,000 sq. ft. Atlantic City oceanside shopping center that Blatstein and his partner, the casino architect Paul Steelman, bought for just $2.7 million last November from real estate giant CBRE Inc., as I reported here.
Despite its spectacular surfside setting, Caesars Pier is half-vacant, which Blatstein blames on casino shutdowns due to increased out-of-state competition. Blatstein says he has "several" more projects on tap for Atlantic City and that energetic Mayor Don Guardian and other NJ notables will be on hand for the plan unveiling next week.
What does Blatstein have in store for the Pier, besides shopping? He has a history with live show venues, movie theaters and catering services at his Philly properties; entertainment was a big part of his casino plan. As the Inquirer has reported, citing tourism data, Boardwalk Hall and Convention Hall have, been rocking and rolling since before Comcast-Spectacor took over management last year (updated, to make clear the venues were also doing well under previous manager SMG.) With the loss of Showboat (House of Blues) and Revel (Ovation Hall) there may be more entertainment demand than supply in A.C. So no surprise if Blatstein adds an oceanside venue at the Pier.
Can Blatstein handle all this? His proposal to turn the former Inquirer complex at 400 N. Broad St. into a casino and entertainment center was turned down by state gambling officials; he hasn't said much about his Plan B for holding onto the property and putting something else there. He's got two big South Philly projects in development (10th and Washington, where he wants a grocery and 1,600 apartments; and the old Foxwoods casino site).
Plus, last month Blatstein and longtime business partner Joseph Volpe (boss of catering chain Cescaphe Event Group) said they have agreed to buy the former Delaware Station electric plant from Exelon, though Exelon isn't confirming until a final deal is in place. Can Bart finance Caesars, other A.C. projects, two South Philly projects, whatever's next at 400 N. Broad, and Delaware Station, all at once?