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The owners of the former Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino have been ordered to submit a plan for the demolition of the derelict Atlantic City property within the next six weeks. The order was given by a Superior Court judge on April 9 and handed down to IEP AC Plaza LLC, which is a subsidiary of billionaire Carl Icahn’s real estate empire.
Atlantic City filed a suit against Icahn on March 12 due to public safety risks caused by the crumbling Trump Plaza property. Icahn Enterprises LP representatives stated that there were already plans in place to tear down the long-abandoned venue. The services of a demolition project manager were retained by IEP and, according to court documents, it was estimated that the removal could be completed within two years.
As of mid-April, there has not been an application submitted for a demolition permit in Atlantic City. In the hearing on April 9, Hunter Gary, the president of real estate for Icahn Enterprises, insisted that the city’s litigious approach was unnecessary.
“As we have consistently said, the decision to proceed with the demolition of the Plaza Tower was made before the City decided to expend time and resources pursuing litigation to compel us to do something that was already underway,” he said.
“The Court today simply memorialized the action that is well underway and acknowledged the substantial efforts that have been made to date by IEP in the demolition project.”
Before legal action was taken, Atlantic City representatives had been in “good faith negotiations” with Icahn Enterprises. However, Mayor Marty Small Sr. said that accountability was the reason that the city filed with the court.
“The bottom line is: The city has a plan, and we are going to execute that plan,” he said.
“We had the court step in to make sure that they are going to do everything they said they were going to do as far as demolishing the building in a timely manner.”
Representatives of IEP have accused Atlantic City of grandstanding and disputed claims that the property is a risk to public safety.
Gary said, “With all the problems in the country and in Atlantic City, it is a sad commentary that the mayor is wasting taxpayer money, as well as valuable time, for absolutely no reason other than a self-promotional PR stunt.”
Small stated that he has no interest in hemming and hawing with IEP, adding that city officials can deal with the current pandemic and other issues simultaneously.
“It’s easy now, with hindsight being 20/20, to claim that demolition was underway and we didn’t need to waste taxpayers’ money when we attempted to come to an amicable agreement before the court got involved,” he said.
“I’m responsible for the health, welfare, and safety of Atlantic City residents and visitors. It’s clear that the safety of Atlantic City residents is compromised by that structure.”
Only days prior to the news conference dealing with the legal action taken by the city, there was a video posted by Atlantic City resident Mike Lopez showing significant chunks of debris flying off the façade of the IEP property due to strong winds. While there are fences around the old casino and hotel, which closed back in 2014, Atlantic City officials have stated that it is simply not enough to ensure public safety.
The court brief submitted by Atlantic City said, “Defendant’s proposed remedy — the installation of additional fencing — is inadequate to address the true problem: a building in dire need of demolition. A property of this size and location cannot and should not be shedding debris from numerous stories high. And an owner of such property should not be content with merely installing fencing that ‘should virtually eliminate danger to pedestrians if there are any future incidents with falling debris.’ A remedial measure that ‘should virtually eliminate’ a danger is simply insufficient — particularly where the result of further falling debris could be fatal.”