The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) approved a 20-year tax break Tuesday for a proposed $ 100 million indoor water park on a site adjacent to Atlantic City’s former Showboat casino.
Snowboat owners sought an entertainment retail district designation for the water park to make it eligible for the 20-year tax rebate.
The CRDA approved the requested designation in order to entitle the project to a Annual refund of up to $ 2.5 million in sales tax for a period of 20 years. The retail entertainment district designation also entitles the program to tax breaks on building materials.
Showboat AC wins indoor water park approval
The CRDA gave approval of the site plan for the proposed water park earlier this month. That prior approval, along with the requested designation, paved the way for developers to begin construction of the $ 100 million project. This is expected to happen in early 2021.
Showboat is currently owned by Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein. The businessman said Tuesday that the water park will provide Atlantic City with the much-needed family entertainment experience.
Mr. Blatstein further noted that he strongly believes that Atlantic City’s best days are “ahead” and that many people don’t even realize the potential of the city.
The proposed water park
Showboat had operated as a hotel and casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk for 16 years prior to close its doors in 2014. The property was one of four casinos in the city that closed that year. Mr. Blatstein purchased it in early 2016 and reopened it as a non-gambling online resort in the summer of that year.
He applied for permission to resume online gambling activities at the complex and last year the New Jersey Casino Control Commission gave him preliminary approval to obtain a gaming license. However, he said Tuesday that he is now 100% focused on expanding Showboat’s no-bet online gambling offering.
His plans include building a 103,000-square-foot water park and a 30,000-square-foot entertainment center on a vacant site on a block of New Jersey Avenue between Showboat and Ocean Casino Resort.
He previously said that “it is very clear that Atlantic City lacks family destinations “ and that the water park and additional planned facilities will make the Showboat the “first family resort in town all year round.”
Tuesday’s approval for the project designation was good news for Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small. The top city official said the proposed water park is a “True game changer” and that will take the city “to the next level.”
The Showboat Water Park isn’t the only project of its kind launched by Atlantic City investors in recent years. In 2017, a group led by businessman Ronald Young signed an agreement to acquire the closed Atlantic Club and reopen it as a non-online gambling family resort that would have been anchored by a huge indoor water park.
However, funding for that venture dried up and the old hotel and casino complex was back on the market and was purchased in 2019 by New York-based developer Colosseo Atlantic City Inc.