Posted on: December 25, 2020, 11:59h.
Last updated on: December 25, 2020, 12:45h.
The Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City wants to build a $100 million beachfront indoor waterpark. Next week, a special meeting will be held in town to consider the project.
Showboat owner Bart Blatstein, a real estate developer based in Philadelphia, is seeking to have the development classified as an entertainment retail district. If that happens, the endeavor would qualify for construction cost breaks and ongoing reductions in sales taxes at the venue.
The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) will review the waterpark proposal during a special meeting next week, December 29.
Formal action may be taken by the Board at this meeting on … final project approval of the Showboat Entertainment Retail District Project,” the CRDA meeting notification explains.
The CRDA uses casino funds to invest in projects that are expected to have a “meaningful, positive improvement in the lives of New Jersey residents statewide.”
The agency is funded by a $5 per night hotel room fee and $3 daily parking charge levied on Atlantic City casinos. The CRDA additionally collects 1.25 percent of gross gaming revenues, a nine percent hotel tax, three percent alcohol sales add-on fee, and nine percent tax on entertainment revenue.
Blatstein’s Tower Investments acquired the Showboat from Stockton University in early 2016 for $23 million. He is now ready to spend more than four times that amount to bring an indoor waterpark attraction to the northern end of the Boardwalk.
Blatstein believes diversifying Atlantic City is critical to its future.
“It’s abundantly clear that Atlantic City is lacking in family destinations,” Blatstein told the Associated Press earlier this month. “There’s not enough for them to do here. This will create Atlantic City’s first year-round family resort.”
If Blatstein’s waterpark vision is deemed an entertainment retail district, the $100 million undertaking could be afforded more than $50 million in tax credits and construction cost reductions. The bulk of that number would come by way of the entertainment attraction receiving up to $2.5 million in annual sales tax credits for the first 20 years of its operation.
The Showboat is prohibited from incorporating a casino into its present building. Caesars Entertainment placed such a deed restriction on the property when it sold the Showboat back in 2014 to Stockton.
Blatstein toyed with the idea of building a standalone casino next to the Showboat on what’s currently outdoor beach volleyball pits. He now seems more bullish on building a waterpark on the courts than a casino.
The Showboat markets its hotel as an escape from the unpleasantries often associated with an Atlantic City casino, such as the constant ringing of slot machines and smell of cigarette smoke.
“This beloved landmark is home to entertainment-focused leisure for guests of all ages,” the Showboat website states. Part of the hotel’s family-focus mantra is its welcoming of pets — the only Boardwalk hotel to allow four-legged friends.