ATLANTIC CITY - Five days out from the reopening of the vaunted place formerly known as Revel, and you might imagine there would be a frenzy of activity around the multiblock, Boardwalk-front, glass-sheathed, 47-story edifice.
Or perhaps a sign or two around the property - or a website - to at least disclose the new name or branding.
But no one was scrubbing the exterior of the lavishly designed structure - which is meant to appear like a big glass wave rising up on the beach adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean - although the place looks as if it could certainly use a good power washing. The hundreds of huge windows on the building still appear caked with salt and grime, and the metal poles of the light standards ringing the exterior are covered in rust, giving the place a desolate, rather ramshackle appearance.
There were no trucks arriving with supplies, nor employees bustling about readying the 900 hotel rooms that are supposed to be available Wednesday when the resort has a "soft" reopening.
Instead on Friday, a sparse construction crew tackling the installation of a rope-climbing course and a zip-line ride in the resort's former porte cochere appeared to be the only work happening at the 20-acre site. A lone maid could be seen inside the lobby mopping a section of the marble floor.
Glenn Straub, who bought the $2.4 billion resort for pennies on the dollar at a bankruptcy court sale last year, walked around the site with a to-do list in hand still refusing to talk specifics on what the former Revel will be called or precisely what the theme of the resort will be.
"We don't do things for money. . . . We don't run our lives on financial data but based on how we feel we can help the people here," said Straub, insisting that gambling will be only a small part of the equation he said he hopes will finally make the beleaguered property a success.
Although Atlantic City's fortunes as an East Coast gambling mecca have been on a downward spiral for several years, Revel's closure may be its most notorious financial failure to date.
During an economic downturn over the last decade, Atlantic City casinos began to feel the pinch from newly established gaming in Pennsylvania and other neighboring states. And Revel was supposed to boost the local economy, providing hundreds of jobs for area residents and ultimately breathing new life into New Jersey's flagging casino industry.
But after the global financial company Morgan Stanley, which owned 90 percent of the Revel Entertainment Group, decided in 2010 to pull financial support to finish initial construction on the spectacularly expensive resort - which was to include a spa, salons, and retail offerings in the style of the most lavish casino resorts around the globe - Gov. Christie announced 10 months later that the state would provide up to $261 million in tax incentives to get the stalled project finished and the new casino resort open.
A somewhat scaled back version of Revel - with fewer hotel rooms than originally planned and almost no retail or spa and salon offerings - finally opened in April 2012.
But the bet didn't pay off for the state-backed property and in its second and third quarter of the year it opened it had lost $72 million. By the end of that year - after Moody's and Standard & Poor's substantially downgraded its credit rating - the property had a debt load of more than $1.3 billion, which included millions in unpaid local property taxes and contractor fees.
By April 2013, Revel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy twice and the property was placed up for sale. After finding no suitable buyers, Revel closed its doors in August 2014, leaving hundreds of employees without jobs and dozens of creditors unpaid.
After a protracted process to sell off the property by the court, Revel was sold to Straub's Polo North Country Club for $82 million, which computes to about five cents on the dollar of its estimated value.
The sale was followed by months of back and forth between Straub and the city and ACR, owner of Energenic Inlet District Energy Center, which had been supplying power to Revel. Revel had been the utility's sole client.
Two days after Straub took ownership of the property, ACR cut off power - which included primary and backup power to the huge structure as well its water supply - because the previous owners owed the utility millions of dollars. Months of litigation ensued, but earlier this year, Straub bought the utility.
In the meantime, Straub announced plans to reopen the resort with a smaller casino, a water park and sports facility with a rope-climbing course, a zip-line ride, an e-sports lounge, equestrian facility, beach cabanas, and a 13-story biking endurance track in a section of the 7,500-space parking garage. Surfing, wind surfing, and scuba lessons will also be available.
The resort will also feature a 32-room medi-spa where guests can have Botox and other medical beauty treatments. By July, Straub said, a white-sand beach area with pools and volleyball courts called Nikki Beach will open in the former porte cochere area and inside the hotel, a burlesque show and comedy club will be opened in one of Revel's former nightclubs.
Eventually, when the casino is reopened, 10 restaurants will also be opened, along with a rock-climbing wall, a movie theater, a skydiving machine and a heliport for high rollers, he said.
But during a brief interview Friday, Straub declined to talk about the name or theme for his new enterprise or allow a reporter inside. He would say only that he has hired "Asian painters" to "come up with artwork."
"Maybe I'll never announce the theme. . . . I'm getting a lot of press out of not saying anything," Straub said.
In March, city inspectors toured the interior and deemed it in "great condition" and "amazingly intact" and said that it was "ready for business" once Straub obtained the usual occupancy permits for such an enterprise.
Straub said he had filed all the applications to reopen the property this Wednesday. He said that while anyone would be welcome to check in, initially most of the rooms will be occupied by guests of an undisclosed company that he has hired to operate the casino once it is reopened. He said he hopes to have the casino reopened by late August.
A spokeswoman for the state Division of Gaming Enforcement said it was working with Straub and the company to secure the appropriate licensing and authorizations to reopen the gaming hall.