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DEP permits move Margaritaville complex forward

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A major beachfront project in Atlantic City is one step closer to reality.

The state Department of Environmental Protection today announced the issuance of a required land-use permit for the Margaritaville complex on the soon-to-be rebuilt Steeplechase Pier.

The permit was issued to Resorts Casino Hotel, which plans a 16,000-square-foot Landshark Bar & Grill, as well as retail shops, a beach bar, coffee shop and other amenities as part of the complex.

The project will create an estimated 250 construction jobs and 162 permanent jobs, according to the DEP. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority gave preliminary approval to the project in July.

With the DEP approval, a Resorts spokeswoman said the casino will begin construction on the project in the next few weeks.

"The Margaritaville project is easily one of the largest initiatives in Atlantic City in recent years, and we are looking forward to being a pivotal piece of the puzzle as Atlantic City continues to grow as a resort destination," the spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

Joseph Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, said the development is a step in the right direction for the city.

"It's trending exactly where Atlantic City wants to be trending, and that's additional offerings for our guests," he said. "And it is a great brand."

Kelly said the project should not only help diversify the city's entertainment offerings, but also bring in a diverse crowd. He said Jimmy Buffett — the singer behind Margaritaville — has a strong fan base that ranges across demographic and age groups.

Kelly said the reconstruction of the pier, which was mostly destroyed in a 1988 fire, will also accentuate the beach.

"The huge asset we have is the ocean, and anytime we can have investment along the Boardwalk — whether it's revitalizing an existing pier or creating a new attraction — certainly, that's a plus," he said.

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