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The AC Gateway Project : Wally Barr and Curtis Bashaws Plans For The Dunes, Sahara Atlantic City and Old Atlantic City High School

By Chuckmonster on Monday, 10th December 2007 10:51pm
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AC Gateway LLC - Atlantic City Dunes Casino Land Aquisitions

Former Caesars Entertainment CEO Wally Barr and AC Casino Reinvestment exec Curtis Bashaw have been busy over the last few years jigsawing together a bunch of property adjacent to the Atlantic City Hilton, where they intend to begin construction on a new casino in the next few years.

Sahara Atlantic City

Del Webb has planned to build a Sahara casino in Atlantic City on a site between the Dunes and the Golden Nugget (now the AC Hilton) and even hired Martin Stern Jr. to do renderings. Del Webb decided to get out of the gaming business altogether and sold the property to the Golden Nugget in 1982.

The Dunes Atlantic City

The 11 acre Dunes casino hotel parcel sat in a state of partial completion before being destroyed in 1991. Since its failed attempt to launch in 1980, the property has changed hands numerous times, and has been vacant since the shell of the Dunes was carted away. The Dunes site was owned for a time by MGMMirage, who sold it to Park Place Entertainment/Caesars in September 2000 for $66M. Shortly after the Harrah's/Caesars merger deal, Harrah's sold four properties to Colony Capital, Harrah's East Chicago, Harrah's Tunica, Ballys Tunica and the Atlantic City Hilton, which included Dunes lots. In 2006, Colony Capital sold the Dunes, ACHS and planned Sahara AC properties to AC Gateway LLC for just shy of $79.2 million dollars.

The Old Atlantic City High School / Ballys AC II

The old Atlantic City High School closed in 1994 when a new building was constructed on the Great Island north west of Bader Field on Albany Boulevard. The old Atlantic City High School plot was sold to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for $2.5 million who transferred the title to Caesars Entertainment shortly thereafter. Caesars had made preliminary plans to build a second Ballys Atlantic City on the site. Harrah's sold property to Colony Capital in the post-Caesars/Harrah's merger deal mentioned above.

The Wally Barr / Curtis Bashaw AC Gateway Project

AC Gateway LLC, headed by former Caesars CEO Wally Barr and Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Director Curtis Bashaw - have been buying up pieces of land in the Chelsea district just south of the Atlantic City Hilton. They have begun to amass a nice sized chunk of land in addition to the Dunes site, the former Atlantic City High School and the site for a planned Sahara Atlantic City that is currently parking lot. Since October 2006, AC Gateway LLC has begun targeting some of the other properties nearby for acquisition, most notably on the two triangular shaped blocks bordered by Atlantic, Pacific and Providence Avenues.

AC Gateway LLC - Atlantic City Dunes Casino Land Aquisitions

AC Gateway has made a number of interesting land purchases in the last 12 months on the 3500 & 3600 blocks of Atlantic Avenue. Public tax records filed with the City of AC show that in addition to the purchase of the three parcels in one from Colony Capital (dba RJH Acquisitions NJ LLC), AC Gateway has reached agreements on four more pieces of land in the area.

3500 Atlantic Avenue(Holiday Motors & Rear Lot)
Purchased from Magill Properties Inc for $929,000
This property is listed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as being 'contaminated' possibly due to ground soil contamination caused by automobile repair.

3504 Atlantic Avenue
Purchased from Magill Properties Inc for $958,000
This is the building between Holiday Motors and the parking lot.

3506 Atlantic Avenue (Parking Lot)
Purchased from Magill Properties Inc for $1,062,000
3604 Atlantic Avenue
Purchased from LS Latz Associates for $2,683,800
This is the landmark Knife and Fork Inn and its adjacent parking lot.

To complete purchase of the 3600 block, AC Gateway would have to acquire the Rodeway Inn and the Admiral condominiums. To complete purchase of the 3500 block between Atlantic and Pacific Avenue, they would have to acquire the SeaBreeze condominiums / club, the Masjid Altaqwa Mosque and a tall white building that looks like it was a movie theater at some point (which is probably part of the mosque). A spokesman for the mosque said in The Press of Atlantic City that they had no intentions on selling their property. Additionally, there are two low level buildings next door to the mosque on the corner of South Hartford and Atlantic, and two condo/apartment buildings facing south on Pacific Avenue that would have to be purchased for AC Gateway to have the entire two block stretch.

If AC Gateway manages to piece together all of the real estate they are obviously vying for, they would be able to connect their new resort to the Atlantic City Hilton, possibly with a shopping promenade anchored on the end by the Knife and Fork Inn. Curtis Bashaw is known for his interest in preserving Atlantic City's older structures, and the Knife and Fork Inn and to a lesser degree The Admiral are both Atlantic City landmarks. The attorney who is handling these acquisitions said that the project will continue whether or not AC Gateway manages to purchase all of the property bordered by Atlantic, Pacific, Albany and Providence Avenues.

If we've got any readers who live in Atlantic City and can help identifying some of these structures or take a quick drive by to snap some photos, I would be unbelievably grateful.

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