When the Pier Shops at Caesars opened on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 2006, full of $1,000 pocketbooks, trendy restaurants and an $8 million light show, the upscale venue was riding a wave expected to bring billions in new development to the resort.

Then the economy crashed, and casinos experienced record losses as rollers high and low cut back on Atlantic City or spent their cash in Pennsylvania venues. Developers slowly backed away from major deals for new casinos.

The Pier Shops, jutting over the beach and the Atlantic Ocean, slowly took the form of a big, beautiful ghost ship. Now the Pier Shops' owner, Taubman Centers Inc, is in the same situation as millions of other Americans: foreclosure. The Michigan-based company has defaulted on a $135 million loan, according to court documents, and will be handing the property over to its lenders by year's end.

"A number of factors contributed, including the economy overall, competitive gaming and the halting of some of the planned new, upscale hotel developments," Karen McDonald, a Taubman spokeswoman, said in a statement.

McDonald wouldn't say how much the property was now worth, but she recently told The Press of Atlantic City that it was $52 million.

"The economy just beat us all," said Gino Iovino, owner of Eleganza, a high-end Italian boutique in the Pier Shops. "I still believe in the project, though. This is a beautiful mall."

Iovino hopes any new owner would address parking issues and not try to change the upscale atmosphere. The mall is home to Gucci, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton and several bars and restaurants, including two by Stephen Starr.

An attorney representing Bank Of America declined to comment on the foreclosure process or whether there's been interest in the site. A spokeswoman for Caesars declined to comment.