It seems that Winter 2017 is going to be known as another winter that wasn’t. Little if any measurable snowfall and no long term cold spells made it an easy winter to endure.The warm February brought out the early spring colors the first week of March. The daffodils, forsythias, and even dandelions pasted their yellows on the landscape. We even had an apple tree blooming in our yard.
Folks are dusting off their bicycles, golf clubs, lawnmowers, and beach chairs in preparation for a balmy spring with summerlike streaks of 70 degree plus days. Baseball has begun, Sam’s Pizza is open, and the plant retailers are getting in their yearly variety of flowers, shrubs and trees.
The warm breezes remind us that summer can’t be far off. It’s even time to make our Memorial Weekend and July 4th plans.
REAL ESTATE MARKET
The 2017 real estate market got out of the blocks quickly this winter. Properties listed on the Cape May County Multiple Listing Service saw 374 sold in the county in January and February. Add in those sold privately and sales were no doubt well past 400. The first week of March had another 48 properties go to closing.
Hopefully the brisk start to the sales year foretells a great year for Cape May County real estate. It looks like many families are starting or continuing a tradition of spending leisure time at the Jersey shore.
HARD ROCK CASINO
Atlantic City got a big boost when Hard Rock International announced that it is purchasing the former Trump Taj Mahal and opening in 2018 the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The Hard Rock Café surprised many when it stayed on in the building when Carl Icahn closed his Taj Mahal in October, 2016. I guess we now know why.
Though the sale price hasn’t been disclosed, Icahn said that principals Jim Allen and Joseph Jingoli would be spending roughly $300 million on the purchase and ensuing renovation. Reopening the casino and hotel will create 3,000 permanent and part-time jobs.
After losing five casinos in recent years, the prospect of a new one opening is a big plus for AC. On top of that, it will help revitalize the South Inlet portion of the Boardwalk. There are currently no casinos north of Resorts. Now with the Hard Rock, its neighbor the Showboat, which is now a hotel only but connected to the new Hard Rock by an elevated walkway, and hopefully soon TEN, formerly the Revel, South Inlet should spring back to life. Its current main draw is the AC Steel Pier, which will also benefit thanks to the Hard Rock Casino.
The property has a storied past. Construction began in 1983 by Resorts International, which owns the next door casino to the south. The $250 million project ground to a halt in April, 1986 when the principal owner died.
Donald Trump bought the property in July 1987 for $79 million. The budget for finishing construction skyrocketed to $930 million. A tussle followed between Trump and Merv Griffin for ownership of Resorts International. Trump offered share-holders $22 a share, Griffin topped it at $35 a share. In November, 1988, after several lawsuits, Griffin prevailed and secured a controlling interest in Resorts and the Taj Mahal.Trump then bought the Taj Mahal from Griffin and Resorts International for $273 million. The Trump Taj Mahal opened in April, 1990, its 120,000 square feet of gaming space the star of what was billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.
Trump had raised $675 million for the project through the sale of junk bonds with 14% interest. In 1991, a pre-packaged bankruptcy saw Trump transfer 50% interest back to the bondholders.
The Taj Mahal was the highest grossing casino in AC from then until the Borgata opened in 2003 and wrestled away the honor. Icahn bought the Taj in February, 2016 in a bankruptcy sale. The AC casinos together now gross $2.4 billion per year, down substantially from the era before neighboring states legalized casinos. Now there will be one more casino getting a piece of that pie.
We have noticed several more changes in stores since those we talked about in our Winter Newsletter. In Rio Grande, the former Taco Bell which then had a life as Alfredo’s Pizza, then a Mexican food joint, has been torn down. We understand that the new building to be constructed will be a – Taco Bell. Talk about going full circle.
The new McDonalds in Rio Grande in front of Lowes opened in the fall after the demolition of the failed Sonic. The New Jersey Division of Child & Family has opened their new home nearby across from WalMart.
In Cape May Court House, the longstanding Mossbrook Tire building across from McD is empty and shuttered. No word on what that will become.
START YOUR FAMILY LEGACY
Maybe it’s the right time for you to find a legacy property for your family. In the Wildwoods (NW, WC, WW, Wildwood & Diamond Beach), there are currently 547 condos, 176 single family homes, and 93 multi-family homes for sale. Perhaps we can find you the perfect fit!
I love to talk about real estate and our island. I am always glad to share my insights, observations, and visions.
I am still involved in real estate 365 days a year. It’s my passion. I will gladly handle listing your property, give you a free market analysis, or show you a wide variety of properties that may suit your needs.
Stop by our office at 5602 New Jersey Avenue and chat. Or give me a call at 609-780-7131. I answer my phone 8am to 9pm EVERYDAY and you always get a real, live person. That’s service!