The Showboat Atlantic City hotel is set to break ground this week on its $95 million indoor and outdoor waterpark complex.
Philadelphia real estate developer Bart Blatstein has been focused on non-gaming attractions since he acquired the Boardwalk resort in early 2016 from Stockton University for $23 million. The Showboat has operated as a hotel since July of that year.
Though Blatstein hinted at pursuing a gaming license for the property once owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment, the businessman is now betting big on non-gaming. He’s touting a family-oriented entertainment destination that will ideally lure visitors to the beachfront resort year-round.
Island Waterpark is a 103,000-square-foot development that will replace the Showboat’s outdoor beach volleyball courts. Blatstein and his Tower Investments firm will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking on Wednesday, Jan. 12.
Caesars in 2014 placed a deed restriction on the Showboat that prevents the existing building from housing a casino. The casino company shuttered the Showboat that year in order to reduce competition at the three other casinos that it operated at the time.
As casinos are being afforded a property tax break, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) is leading the legislative effort in Trenton by warning lawmakers that as many as four Atlantic City casinos are at risk of closing without help.
The Showboat is investing nearly $100 million. Blatstein is doing so because he’s convinced better days are ahead for Atlantic City.
Blatstein is on a mission to create “The first true year-round family resort in Atlantic City.” He began the undertaking by spending $7 million to build the largest arcade in the state.
The Lucky Snake arcade and sports bar at the Showboat opened last May. Island Waterpark will be located adjacent to the Lucky Snake.
The waterpark will feature the standard attractions waterpark guests expect, including an array of slides, pools, and a lazy river. The venue will offer lounge areas with various food and beverage options, as well as private party rooms. The structure will be highlighted by a retractable glass-plane roof.
Blatstein wants to make sure his guests always have a good time — as opposed to casino patrons, who might only leave happy when they win.
Blatstein’s family-friendly ambitions are being backed by the New Jersey Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), which is funded through nightly room and parking fees incurred at casino hotels.
In late 2020, the state agency designated the Showboat’s waterpark project as an Entertainment Retail District. As such, it qualifies for $2.5 million per year in sales tax rebates for the first two decades that it’s in operation.
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. is a proponent of creating new lures to town other than casino gambling. The mayor says he’s excited to attend this week’s Island Waterpark groundbreaking.
Knowing Bart Blatstein, it’s not going to be typical,” Small said Wednesday of the project ceremony. “He’s an over-the-top guy. I expect over the top.”
Blatstein issued no comment on the upcoming event. The Showboat has also not detailed a construction timeline for Island.
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