New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the New Jersey Legislature have teamed up to create the Atlantic City Tourism District in order to help complete the transformation of Atlantic City into a “destination resort” with a greater variety of attractions.
Within its designated boundaries, the Atlantic City Tourism District has taken over responsibility for planning, zoning, and the creation of entranceways, infrastructure, and public and private partnerships in order to revitalize one of America’s oldest and most popular resort towns.
This spring, the boundaries of the Tourism District were defined and accepted. By mid-August, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (“CRDA”) had allocated approximately $10 million to commence acquiring properties as part of an Atlantic City Downtown Redevelopment Project.
On September 7, 2011, Governor Christie introduced John F. Palmieri as the new executive director of the CRDA. Palmieri comes to Atlantic City from a distinguished career with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and with previous successful redevelopment projects in Providence, Rhode Island; Hartford, Connecticut; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Known as a thoughtful and quiet leader with a genuine interest in listening, Palmieri comes to his post after a proven track record of accomplishments in a variety of other East Coast settings. In Providence, Palmieri created a nationally recognized arts and entertainment district into which millions of dollars of private financing were committed for affordable housing and other revitalization initiatives. With the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Palmieri assisted in the restructuring of the market during the nationwide housing downturn. He has successfully faced numerous other challenges in the various cities he has served.
Also very significant is the joint announcement by Governor Christie and Palmieri to retain Susan Ney Thompson as deputy CRDA executive director, following her distinguished service as interim executive director and chief operating officer of the Authority. Thompson’s more than two decades of experience at the CRDA and her strong commitment to the area have endeared her to local residents and leaders, who have uniformly praised her ability and willingness to be open to their opinions and concerns.
An important constant has been the leadership of James Kehoe as chairman of the board of the CRDA. As business manager for the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 322, Kehoe has increased the market share of skilled union labor in Southern New Jersey and contributed much to the stability and success of the CRDA’s programs.
Also key to the City’s transformation are the recent actions of the Atlantic City government. The City’s efforts were illustrated by its success in the refurbishment of Bader Field, making it available for a major multi-day concert over the summer which drew more than 70,000 fans, and was highlighted by the Dave Matthews Band.
It finally seems as though a wide variety of factors are all coming together to complete the transformation of Atlantic City, long hailed as “America’s Playground,” into a true national “destination resort.”