Permit Delays Causing Frustration as Atlantic Club Pushes Comeback Date To Beyond 2025

The anticipated opening of the 23-story Atlantic Club building on Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City for 2025 has hit a snag, with renovations facing delays, according to developer Rocco Sebastiani. 

Alongside another developer, Sebastiani cites city permitting delays from the Atlantic City Construction Division office as the primary cause for the stalled condominium projects. Sebastiani, president of Colosseo Group, which acquired the former Golden Nugget Hotel Casino property in 2019, initially projected completion by next year for the South Tower and North Tower renovations. 

However, as of January, progress has been hindered by challenges in obtaining permits, prompting Sebastiani to express frustration with the lack of a streamlined process. Developer Rocco Sebastiani says that he applied for construction permit from the city in September 2022 to initiate recladding of the building. 

However, since March 2023, Sebastiani has been awaiting approval for a crucial permit termed the “condominium design permit for architecturals.” The prolonged wait, compounded by rising legal expenses, is proving frustrating for Sebastiani and others involved. 

Unfortunately, Sebastiani isn’t alone in facing permit-related hurdles for building renovations in the city, highlighting broader challenges within the Atlantic City construction landscape.

Developer Pat Fasano has also experienced similar delays with La’Renaissance Condos

Developer Pat Fasano, a major investor in The Orange Loop near Atlantic City casinos, revealed not too long ago that permit delays also brought renovation work on the La’Renaissance Condos project at 190 S. Kentucky Avenue to a halt. 

The La’Renaissance Condo project, boasting 47 units and an 11-story parking garage, is a huge undertaking in Atlantic City. Developer Pat Fasano, renowned for his contributions to Asbury Park’s development, is at the helm of this venture. 

Fasano estimated that it would take four months to complete the renovations if permits were obtained promptly. However, he also anticipates a similar timeline just to secure the necessary permits. The project aims to modernize the building, constructed in 1986, by updating windows, bathrooms, and fixtures without major structural changes. 

Unfortunately, Fasano faced setbacks when City Construction Official Anthony Cox deemed the project as “reconstruction” rather than “renovation,” resulting in the voiding of 200 permits for each of the 47 condos. Despite Fasano’s assertion that the project constitutes renovation, he encountered resistance from city authorities, exacerbating the delays.

Fasano’s condo project hit a roadblock in December 2023 when work was halted due to the installation of a new sprinkler system and heating unit. Fasano expressed frustration with delays caused by City Construction Official Anthony Cox, whom he accused of purposefully misinterpreting the project details. 

Fasano is currently awaiting permit approval to resume work, but uncertainties loom over the project’s completion. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Club’s renovation progress faces its own set of challenges, with pending approvals for electric and plumbing sub codes and structural plans. City officials also noted deficiencies in the condo complex’s HVAC unit applications, further complicating matters.

Fasano’s track record includes investments in The Orange Loop, an exciting entertainment district near the Boardwalk, featuring popular establishments like Bourre. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Club, once a prominent casino hotel housing Steve Wynn’s Golden Nugget and other brands, is undergoing a transformation. 

Renderings unveiled by developer Rocco Sebastiani offer a glimpse into the future of this iconic site, envisioning a blend of condominiums and a high-end boutique hotel. However, thanks to the setbacks that have arisen, Sebastiani states that  delays will push back the planned 2025 opening.

Will Atlantic Club become a casino?

While the Atlantic Club undergoes a remarkable renovation process, one thing it won’t become is Atlantic City’s 10th casino. Like several other former casinos in the area, it’s bound by a deed restriction prohibiting the operation of slots and table games

However, developer Rocco Sebastiani has ambitious plans to turn the exterior into a stunning showcase of glass windows, extending from Pacific Avenue to the roof. Beyond aesthetics, Sebastiani envisions a range of amenities to elevate residents’ living experience, including a movie theater, golf simulator, fitness center, yoga studio, and optional wine cellars for condo owners. 

Private elevators will whisk residents to the 120 condos in the South Tower, promising breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views of Atlantic City’s bustling landscape. With such amenities and vistas, Sebastiani aims to create an unparalleled living environment that captures the essence of Atlantic City’s charm.

Despite its ambitious plans, the Atlantic Club project isn’t without its detractors. Concerns have been raised about the potential for the building to become an eyesore in Atlantic City’s Chelsea section, where residents have been actively combating blight through community enforcement and neighborhood pride initiatives. 

Liz Terenik, president of the Chelsea Economic Development Commission, highlighted these concerns in the community newsletter, The Chelsea Insider, noting the prevalence of vacant and neglected properties, including the former Atlantic Club site, along Pacific Avenue and California. 

The newsletter emphasized the commission’s collaboration with code enforcement officers to address code violations and maintain property standards, underscoring their commitment to preserving cleanliness and orderliness throughout the neighborhood. As the project moves forward, it will be crucial for developers to engage with community stakeholders and address their concerns to ensure a positive outcome for all involved.

Despite the delays, the anticipation for the new condos at the Atlantic Club remains palpable, with developer Rocco Sebastiani expressing confidence in the project’s potential to revitalize Atlantic City. Drawing from his experience constructing another building in New Jersey following the events of September 11, 2001, Sebastiani emphasizes the historical significance of the Atlantic Club redevelopment. 

Local realtor Paula Hartman echoes this sentiment, noting the global interest in the condos and the frustration over permitting delays. Despite the hurdles, Hartman underscores the transformative impact the project could have on the neighborhood, highlighting the pent-up demand for new condominiums in Atlantic City. 

Final Thoughts

As the community eagerly awaits progress, the hope is that regulatory obstacles will be swiftly overcome, paving the way for a new era of growth and prosperity in the city. In the face of regulatory challenges, the Atlantic Club redevelopment stands as a source of hope for Atlantic City’s revitalization efforts. With its promise of new condominiums and revitalized amenities, the project has the potential to breathe new life into the city’s Chelsea section and beyond. 

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