New Jersey Senate President Wants Agency to Deny Trump Plaza Demolition Funds
New Jersey Senate president Steve Sweeney wants the state’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to reject money that would be used to destroy a shuttered casino property. Sweeney says that he wants the regulatory agency to reject the $5.6 million offered by billionaire investor Carl Icahn to tear down the condemned Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.
Last week, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) approved the plan to let Icahn use the aforementioned amount via investment tax credits he had paid to the agency. Icahn wants to tear down the former Trump property in order to develop a new project.
Sweeney’s Issue with Icahn
However, Sweeney is calling for the CRDA to reject Icahn’s proposal because Icahn has “an antagonistic record of treating employees.” It will cost an estimated $13.2 million to demolish the Trump property, and Icahn’s $5.6 million would go toward that.
Sweeney believes that Icahn does not have good intentions in mind. Sweeney said, “Carl Icahn is no friend to Atlantic City, and he has a record of harsh treatment of working people. I have serious questions about allowing him to take $5.6 million in funds intended to promote economic development for the city and its residents and instead use the money for his own property. He has a track record has a profiteer who denies fair pay and benefits to workers.”
Icahn has not yet publicly responded to Sweeney’s comments.
It was announced in October that the former Trump property would be cleared in order to open up space for new development projects on the Boardwalk. The Trump Plaza casino closed its doors for the final time back in 2014. Icahn purchased its parent company the next year, and subsequently closed the Trump Taj Mahal in 2016.
It’s not the first time Sweeney has had Icahn in his crosshairs. Earlier this year, Sweeney drew up a bill that would have punished Icahn for shutting down the Taj Mahal. The bill would have banned casino license applicants from getting the authority to run casino properties for five years if the applicant had recently closed a different casino. The bill passed in the Democrat-heavy New Jersey state Legislature but was eventually vetoed by Republican Governor Chris Christie. Christie said that he does not believe the state’s Legislature should get involved in private business dealings.
Icahn decided to close the Taj Mahal after failing to come to terms on an agreement on health insurance and pensions for casino employees. The employees subsequently went on strike, which Icahn said negatively affected the property’s profitability.
Back in March, Icahn sold the Trump Taj Mahal property to Hard Rock International. Earlier in November, Hard Rock announced that it will open its new property at the Trump Taj Mahal site sometime next summer. Icahn decided to sell the property due to concerns that Sweeney’s bill would have stripped him of a casino license.
The closure of the Taj Mahal resulted in about 3,000 people losing their jobs. It marked the fifth property on the Atlantic City boardwalk to close permanently within the span of just two-and-a-half years.
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