Pier at Caesars to debut

The project is among $1.4 billion in new Atlantic City projects
Inquirer Staff Writer


This booming gambling town is about to get a close look at its latest multimillion-dollar project.

The $200 million Pier at Caesars, an upscale shopping, dining and entertainment complex, opens next week at the heart of the Boardwalk. The developer, Gordon Group Holdings L.L.C., offered a preview yesterday to the media.

It is enough to give Scott Gordon the jitters. “You go through all of these emotions,” said Gordon, president of Gordon Group, which has been working on the project for the last four years. “Most of all, we’re excited to have customers start coming through those doors.”

For Atlantic City, there is more to come. From 2002 to 2005, the resort town captured about $3 billion in new capital investment. Over the next year and a half, $1.4 billion in new projects are planned. In the coming years, billions more will be invested, by Morgan Stanley and MGM Mirage.

The Pier at Caesars will resemble a luxury cruise ship framed by 70,000 square feet of neon signs and graphics created by New York’s Clear Channel Spectacolor.

The four-story Pier has 500,000 square feet, of which 320,000 square feet is being leased to 105 tenants. Ninety of those tenants will be retail and fashion boutiques. Retailers such as Betsey Johnson, Stuart Weitzman, BCBG and Coach are scheduled to open next week, with the other stores to open throughout the summer and fall.

Among those headed for the Pier are names such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany. Also on the way is a wedding chapel.

Scheduled for Labor Day and beyond are 15 fine-dining restaurants and nightclubs. Among them are restaurants from Stephen Starr of Philadelphia and Todd English of New York. Starr has two restaurants planned, Continental and Buddakan. English will debut English Is Italian, a copy of the restaurant he opened early last year in New York.

Gordon Group, a family-owned developer based in Greenwich, Conn., also built the Forum Shops in Las Vegas and Beverly Center, a high-end shopping mall in Los Angeles.

Gordon, 40, said he began looking at sites for the Pier in summer 2002. The company took control of the site in 2003.

His father, Sheldon Gordon, built the Forum Shops in Las Vegas before a big growth spurt in that town. The mall, which features talking statues and storefronts modeled after the streets of Rome, opened in 1992 and boasts some of the highest sales per square foot in the country.

Scott Gordon said he could not have picked a better location to try to emulate that success. He has only one regret after watching development explode in and around Atlantic City while completing the Pier:

“I wish I had more land here to do more things.”

Building Boom Goes On

Major construction projects in Atlantic City.

Trump Taj Mahal: $250 million, 800-room hotel tower to break ground next month. Scheduled to open in 2008.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa: $525 million project is under way. Phase I is a $200 million expansion, to be unveiled next week, with restaurants, stores and gambling space. Phase II is a $325 million, 800-room hotel tower; construction began in 2004, and the tower is to open late in 2007.

Harrah’s: $550 million expansion that includes a retail and entertainment center to open this year, and a 964-room hotel tower to open in 2008. Construction began in March. Also, $100 million in renovations are under way in the casino and hotel.

The Pier at Caesars: The $200 million project will debut at the end of this month on the Boardwalk next to Caesars casino.

To be announced this summer: Expansion projects at Caesars and Bally’s casinos.

Land next to the Borgata:A 55-acre tract in the Marina district owned by MGM Mirage that is ready for development by the casino giant. MGM, coowner of the Borgata, describes the project as comparable to its $7 billion Las Vegas development, which includes hotel towers, retail stores and condominiums. Earliest to break ground: 2008.

Land next to Showboat casino:Bought last month for $70 million by Morgan Stanley. The investment firm wants to build a $1-billion-plus gambling facility and hotel on the 20-acre parcel in the South Inlet district. The casino would be Atlantic City’s 13th. Earliest to break ground is 2008, and earliest casino could open is 2010.

The Walk: The eight-block shopping-entertainment district, which links the Convention Center with the Boardwalk, broke ground in March for a $155 million expansion to include stores, restaurants, condominiums and office space. The expansion is on the west side of Michigan Avenue.


Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2594 or sparmley@phillynews.com.


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