By MICHAEL CLARK Staff Writer Press of Atlantic City | 0 comments
ATLANTIC CITY – The city is going back out to bid for a developer at Bader Field, but has yet to notify the state agency that controls development at the site.
Susan Ney Thompson, interim director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, confirmed Tuesday that city officials have yet to discuss their decision to solicit development proposals at the former municipal airport, which the state agency now controls.
Thompson said she reached out to the Mayor’s Office to discuss the request for proposals last week, but has yet to hear back.
“We certainly think on a macro level that development at Bader Field should be coordinated” with the CRDA, she said.
Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill last month appointing the authority as the leader of the Tourism District, a zone of tourist areas targeted for improvements, including Bader Field. The CRDA has the ability to alter the district’s borders by the start of May, but most believe Bader Field will remain within the district because of its potential as a massive casino site.
The 142-acre waterside tract was valued as a $1 billion property before the credit market crashed. Around the time of the economic downturn, the lame duck administration of former Mayor Scott Evans elected to go out to bid on the property, but received no offers.
In May, the Langford administration coordinated a contract with Atlantic City-based Silk and Associates to market the sale of Bader Field. Soon after, the mayor began claiming that a viable offer for the tract had been made, but refused to identify the prospective buyer.
Others involved in discussions say Silk and Associates have reached out to many developers outside of the United States.
Proposals for the property are due back to the city by May 3 and can include development plans for portions of the property, or the whole site. Potential developers are also charged with a $5,000 registration fee, $45,000 less than the application cost under the first Bader Field’s request for proposal in 2008.
Langford, City Solicitor G. Bruce Ward and Business Administrator Michael Scott were not immediately available for comment. Councilman Frank Gilliam, head of the Planning and Development Committee, was in the middle of a committee meeting when contacted Tuesday and could not be interviewed.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli, who authored much of the Tourism District bill, said the city still owns the property and has the right to go out to bid. However, he noted that the state still has the power of final approval of development plans at the site under a law passed during former Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s administration.
That law requires any agreement between the city and a developer for Bader Field to be approved by the state’s Local Finance Board.
“You would think there would be a little closer relationship considering the mayor is on the (CRDA) board,” Burzichelli said of the city’s decision not to discuss the plan with the authority. “It’s going to take the cooperation of the CRDA to get anything done there. I’m surprised there wasn’t a conversation.”