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CRDA tourism district plan aims to set tone for Atlantic City rebirth

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The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority adopted on Wednesday the master plan for the Atlantic City tourism district, positioning the high-profile tourist area in the struggling seaside city for long-term growth and job creation.

In an announcement of the plan's adoption, CRDA Executive Director John F. Palmieri, said the master plan — developed by the real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle — outlines an "innovative model that integrates Atlantic City's seaside location and world-class resorts, and introduces new concepts that stimulate pedestrian foot traffic throughout the district." Those concepts include adding shopping, dining and other retail outlets to the ground floors of casino properties opening onto beach blocks and Pacific Avenue.

In December, CRDA launched a website, RevitalizeAC.com, to survey business owners, residents and tourists about the authority's approach and priorities, which received an overwhelming response.

Under the blueprint, short-term and long-term projects within the 1,700-acre tourism district include an uninterrupted boardwalk entertainment zone stretching from Connecticut Avenue to Albany Avenue, cross-streets to connect Pacific and Atlantic avenues to the Boardwalk, and a mixed-use residential area at Bader Field, with dedicated park areas and open spaces for music festivals.

"The aspiration is to complete all of the projects within 10 years, and we're starting immediately — meaning today" CRDA board Chairman James Kehoe said. Transforming Steel Pier into a 365-day-a-year attraction and restoring its diving horse attraction and Marine Ballroom to their prime are the first phases of the plan, Kehoe said.

"The steep challenges faced by the tourism and gaming industries in Atlantic City have been a long time in the making, and will not be fixed overnight," Gov. Chris Christie said. "But with this plan and the reforms already enacted, we are finally making meaningful progress to turn around the city, grow the economy and create sustainable jobs."

Atlantic City tourism district plan in action (CRDA)
Atlantic City tourism district plan in action (CRDA)

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