ATLANTIC CITY - Something is actually happening at the former Revel Casino Hotel.
Owner Glenn Straub, whose stated plans for the massive property have veered erratically from mud slides to academic think tanks or refugee camps, has settled on at least one activity: a family-friendly adventure ropes course.
Thursday, there was actual construction equipment stationed in the porte-cochère of Revel, where Straub said he would install a massive ropes course, similar to the ones at Jordan's Furniture Store in New Haven, Conn. Jordan's also has a water show.
Straub, accompanied by owner representative Dave Magliato, in a Revel polo shirt, said after Wednesday night's City Council meeting that they are currently "taking the walls down" in the front of Revel to make room for the ropes course, which will occupy space previously used as valet-parking drop-off.
The rest of the area near the entryway, just off the Boardwalk, will be repurposed with sand as a "Nikki Beach"-style lounge area, Straub said.
He said the automobile entrance would now be underground, which he said made sense because the previous entryway was in a wind tunnel.
Straub said that he was hoping restaurants would also open, but that without an operating casino, obtaining liquor licenses was still unresolved. He said he would consider whether making Revel a temporary BYOB would work.
Sounds of concrete being knocked down or about could be heard from the Boardwalk on Thursday morning, and a blue Genie hydraulic lift was out front. Black fabric draping covered the side of the building facing the former valet area.
Straub and Magliato said the company that manufactures the ropes course would deliver the equipment in the next couple of weeks. They are hoping to be open in June, they said. They said the ropes courses run by Jordan's are hugely popular, with lines out the door.
Another family-friendly attraction with Florida investment got closer to reality this week when a $137 million, 350-foot-high roller coaster, surf club, and wave pool, known as the Polarcoaster, was approved for a five-year tax abatement by the council.
The abatement consists of a five-year phase-in of any new taxes on the improvements, but requires the owner, Florida investor Joshua Wallack, to pay current property taxes. The amusement area will be constructed on the site of the former Sands Hotel & Casino, near Kentucky Avenue and the Boardwalk.
As for Revel, Magliato said that they are talking to operators with experience in running the hotel and/or casino sides of the operation, but that no deals had been finalized. Rumors have continued to swirl about a sale or management lease with experienced operators.
Revel, a $2 billion resort that never turned a profit, closed in September 2014 after less than two years of operation. Straub bought it for $82 million at a bankruptcy auction, and also purchased its power plant, for $33 million, after a protracted court battle.
An attorney for Revel's acclaimed and successful restaurants and clubs has said most remain interested in reopening under the right conditions. When Revel closed, many left equipment on the property.