ATLANTIC CITY - A New Jersey state agency has cleared the way to begin the long-anticipated bidding process for Bader Field, the 142-acre parcel of undeveloped land that sits a half-mile from the Boardwalk.
The process for sending out requests for proposals, or RFPs, to potential bidders was approved Wednesday by the New Jersey Local Finance Board at a hearing in Trenton, said Atlantic City Councilman Dennis Mason.
"Bader Field will be officially put out to bid on Tuesday," said Mason, a Democrat from the city's Fifth Ward, who is chairman of the City Council's Redevelopment Entity Board, which will help pick the winning bidder for Bader Field.
Mason said the City Council and Mayor Scott Evans would hold a news conference Tuesday at Bader Field to make the announcement.
The city owns Bader Field, a strip of land surrounded on three sides by water that sits along Albany Avenue, just behind Absecon Island. It ceased operations as an airport in September 2006.
The City Council and Casino Reinvestment Development Authority had been locked in a political tug-of-war over who controlled Bader Field.
But that issue seems to have been resolved.
"City Council controls Bader Field and the redevelopment agency for Bader Field," said Tom Carver, executive director of the casino authority, the state agency that uses gambling proceeds for redevelopment projects throughout the state. "Our work is done, and we stepped aside."
Carver said the yearlong consulting work by Jones Lang Lasalle that looked into the best possible use for the parcel had been completed. He said the report's findings were turned over to the City Council.
"Everyone wanted to be assured it would be an open and fair bidding process, and I think we got that," Carver said.
"It's a wonderful step," he said of the RFP approval, "and it will result in a magnificent development at Bader Field."
The coveted 6.2-million-square-foot Bader Field has attracted the attention of several casino companies and developers, including gambling titan Steve Wynn, who has expressed interest in developing a casino resort there. Penn National Gaming Inc., of Wyomissing, Pa., made a failed $800 million offer earlier this year for the land.
Other potential uses for the parcel include hotels or condominiums.
City officials said in the past that they hoped to fetch at least $1 billion for Bader Field to help offset rising city property taxes.
Mason said yesterday that the land had an assessed value of $1.95 billion.