With the opening of the Ocean Resort Casino and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, June 28 is the date Atlantic City will enter a “new era” and the next stage of its evolution.
That's at least according to local and state officials in attendance Wednesday at the 2018 State of the City address.
Frank Gilliam, who took the helm as the mayor of “America’s Playground” in January, laid out a series of lofty goals for the coastal city. He was joined by Joe Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.
“The real question that had to be asked, how do we diversify the economy” beyond gaming, Gilliam told the crowd.
The presentation came on the heels of the state winding down its years-long takeover of Atlantic City, first rolled out under former Gov. Chris Christie following concerns about its dire finances.
Chief among his proposals is an “adult district” for a potential marijuana industry, assuming Gov. Phil Murphy plows through with his attempts to legalize recreational cannabis use.
“We were one of the first to regulate gaming in New Jersey, which gives us a right and standing point,” Gilliam said. “We were also one of the first in New Jersey for the prohibition of alcohol.”
Atlantic City also will also be eyeing “South Jersey industries,” the mayor said. To that end, officials are looking to make available 75,000 square feet of office space to service up to 200 professionals, he said.
“Who would have thought that the skyline would have corporate offices,” Gilliam said. “We need more corporate offices up and down the shoreline of Atlantic City.”
Gilliam and Oliver pointed to the $220 million AC Gateway Project, which includes the new Stockton University campus and about 15,000 square feet of new retail.
“The resort community, the entertainment community, the education sector and one of the things I’m most excited about is Stockton University,” Oliver said.
Gilliam also noted Boraie Development LLC’s coming $85 million, 250-unit 600 North Beach luxury-unit complex, the first new residential offering in Atlantic City since the arrival of the casinos. It is scheduled to open in August.