ATLANTIC CITY - Revel, the $2.4 billion former casino hotel sold this week for $82 million, went dark - literally - Thursday afternoon.
Power was cut off around 2:20 after its supplier, ACR Energy, made good on multiple threats to new owner Glenn Straub and shut off the lights to the 6.2 million-square-foot, 47-story Boardwalk property.
"Everything is out, it's a dead building," a security guard said after the plug was pulled.
It was a hard-to-fathom turn of events even for the endlessly twisty saga of the Revel, once predicted to be an Atlantic City game-changer and now standing tall, dark, and empty in the unpredictable hands of Straub, a maverick Florida businessman and polo player.
Acting Atlantic City Fire Chief Vincent Granese said the building, though unoccupied, now represented a fire hazard.
And Chris Filiciello, chief of staff to Mayor Don Guardian, said the city would begin fining Straub thousands of dollars a day until fire-safety mechanisms were restored.
In constantly convulsing Atlantic City, which until recently referred to itself in marketing pitches as "Always Turned On," the future of Revel seemed as foggy as ever.
At least for now, Revel was turned off.
Tara Lordi, a representative for Straub who was at the site Thursday, said mobile backup generators had been ordered and would arrive "in weeks."
Straub, unable to complete a deal for ACR to provide power going forward, has said he would explore alternate sources, including tapping into power at the nearby Showboat, another empty former casino. ACR, whose only customer was Revel, had been under court order to keep the casino's lights on while it was bankrupt. Straub's purchase closed Tuesday.
Granese said he would notify the FAA because the red light at the top of the building was also out and the building would not be visible to airplanes. The building itself also will suffer.
"Every day that power's shut down, there's going to be a certain amount of damage to the building," Granese said. "But that's on the owner."
Fighting a fire in a powerless building, the second tallest in New Jersey, was Granese's chief concern.
"We can't fight a fire in this building safely," he said after speaking with Straub's engineer, a cigar-smoking man in a Revel jacket who declined to give his name or comment.
Straub was home in Palm Beach, Fla., despite saying that he'd be living in Room 327 at Revel until his yacht arrived at the Farley State Marina. He also said this week that HQ Nightclub and other tenant restaurants inside Revel would be able to open in mid-May. But attorneys for those tenants have not returned phone calls or made any statements.
Lordi, an executive who works with Straub, was at Revel "manning the fort," as she put it. She walked around shortly after noon with a flashlight and said then she doubted the power company would be allowed by the fire department to cut the switch.
She was wrong.
She left the area around 2:30 and said she'd be looking for a hotel room to stay in. The building was secured and guards were instructed to secure the perimeter of the building.
The power company, itself built for twice the price Straub paid for Revel, has been a sticking point in several attempted purchases of Revel. It was financed in part through municipal bonds, and bondholders, including hedge funds, are worried about their investment.
Attorney Timothy Lowry said the company had been close to agreements with prior potential owners, and accused Straub of wanting power free, and of dreaming up fantasy sources, like "running extension cords across the backs of sea turtles."
Granese said Straub could use mobile generators to power Revel sufficiently to be in compliance with fire codes.
Straub has an agreement to purchase the former Showboat and has said he believes he could use the power from that building, which is connected to the city's power grid. Stockton University has been trying to convert that building for its use.
Lowry said the power company had attempted to negotiate with Straub and offered him "below market" rates. He said some of the costs of energy in Revel were due to poor design and the fact that 12 floors were never completed, leaving a vast space to suck up energy.
Straub seemed aware of the fire hazard Thursday morning, but appeared to think the energy company would be on the hook for fines, not himself.
In an interview with the Associated Press, he warned of additional problems beyond mold and burst pipes.
"Batteries for the emergency exits last about three hours," he said. "After that, they better get their checkbook out and pray there's not another Chicago fire. The Fire Department's hook and ladder won't go up that high. To try to blackmail what we are starting for the season in May isn't fair."
Straub has spoken of big plans to reopen Revel, and add a water park and other projects throughout Atlantic City.
For now, job one is to get the power back on. The energy company remained unconvinced of Straub's plans.
"He's leveraging Stockton [University]'s assets to drive down the cost of his energy, which is wholly inappropriate," Lowry said. "We see no ability for him to technically connect the two facilities."
Lowry denied that the company was obstructing a future for the casino, which was built for $2.4 billion but never turned a profit. It closed last September.
"We can't provide him free power," Lowry said. "We're more than happy to provide heavily discounted energy for a below-market rate, so the parties can regroup and transition into the new venture."
He said Thursday night the company "hadn't heard a peep" from Straub since the plug was pulled. "We really want Revel to be a success," Lowry said. "We are hopeful he flips the property so that we can have a responsible conversation."