Bader Field deal to help Atlantic City

January 15, 2008 12:11:49 PM PST
An agency that pumps casino money into redevelopment projects around the state will handle bids for a lucrative 150-acre tract that casino operators are drooling over, and city property owners will get some tax relief under a deal approved Tuesday.

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority will serve as the city's redevelopment agent for Bader Field, the historic former airport property that closed in 2006 and that is being eyed for development projects including one or more new casinos.

The authority will float the city a $25 million loan, which will be paid back once a developer buys Bader Field. The city plans to use the money to create a tax relief fund for residents and businesses.

"The $25 million deposit on the sale of Bader from the CRDA will allow my administration and the City Council to relieve the burden on Atlantic City taxpayers," Mayor Scott Evans said.

A committee is looking at possible uses for the Bader Field site, one of the largest stretched of undeveloped buildable land on the East Coast.

Experts have estimated the land could fetch $1 billion on the open market.

Several casino operators include Wynn Resorts, Boyd Gaming, Pinnacle Entertainment and others have expressed interest in the site.

But before that can happen, major work still has to be done, including upgrading roads and utility service in the area off Route 40 at the south end of the city.

The city will continue to own the Bader Field site until it is sold but the casino agency will obtain a lien on the property to ensure repayment of its loan.

The agency is tasked with doling out money raised through state-mandated contributions from the casinos.

Each of the 11 Atlantic City casinos is required to pay to the agency 1.25 percent of its annual gaming revenues for 50 years. The agency invests the money in projects in Atlantic City and the rest of the state.