Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein provided an alternative take on what to do with Bader Field. He wants to construct 10,000 housing units, a hotel and a K-12 private school, creating a middle class neighborhood known as Casa Mar.
His primary competition comes from $2.7 billion car-centric development. The latest progress has the investors agreeing to pay the city $115 million for the site and make $350 million in infrastructure improvements prior to construction of housing and a 2.4 mile track for high performance autos.
DEEM Enterprises also agreed to clean up the contaminated site from old aviation and other fuel, the company’s engineering firm told the editorial board of the Press of Atlantic City. Should DEEM fail in its development, the ground reverts to the city.
“We are ready to hand the City of Atlantic City $115 million” when a development contract is signed for what would be called Renaissance at Bader,” attorney Dan Gallagher said. “If the project fails, the city will still have the land” and the improvements.
Most of the housing would likely go to second and third home buyers.
The state Department of Community Affairs has the final say on what goes there. The state pulled a December 21 agenda item about the memorandum of understanding. The AG’s office had some concern about non-American Investors.
“We can’t get answers,” Gallaher said, about why it was pulled.
Later he said the Attorney General’s Office had concerns about some of DEEM’s non-U.S. investors, some of whom he said are no longer involved.
“A OU is nothing more than a contract to make a contract,” Gallagher said, but it would give DEEM control of the property to do further underground studies and to consult with state regulatory agencies like the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation.
It would also require investors to turn over some of their funding, Gallagher said.
Mayor Marty Small Sr. supports the DEEM proposal and wants the memorandum of understanding signed.
But the state will not confirm that, nor provide additional information regarding if and when a memorandum will be approved.
The state has been reviewing the DEEM proposal for at least two years.
Is a bidding process needed to pick a Bader Field developer? The state won’t say.
And we’d be remiss If we didn’t touch on former State Senator William Gormley who put up $40,000 to study making Bader Field a public park with trees, gardens, paths and recreation areas.
Blatstein and Gormley are “Johnny-come-lately” with their proposals, Gallagher said, and claimed their ideas will not help the city as much as the DEEM proposal would.
Gallagher said DEEM is not asking for any payment-in-lieu-of-taxes arrangement from the city. It may, however, take some assistance from the state Economic Development Agency or from the federal government if it qualifies for it.
DEEM is proposing to grab the material from a planned dredging project in the intracoastal waterway, raising the land six feet to avoid flooding.
Gallagher believes the DEEM project would slash the city property tax rate from $3.91 per $100 of assessed value to $1.91. But that assumes all aspects are approved, resulting in a high density of development of things like a convention center and high- and mid-rise buildings.
Gallagher has said similar car-centric developments can be found in the Concours Club in Miami; M1Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan; and the Monticello Motor Club in New York.