Saturday, October 24, 2015

Give me a crack at Bader Field or I'll sue, investor Glenn Straub tells Atlantic City, New Jersey

ATLANTIC CITY — City Council tabled an ordinance last week allowing the city to sign a deal with a Bader Field developer, although officials said the delay won’t stop the company’s plans to build sports fields on the unused resort airport.

Investor Glenn Straub, however, said he wants another chance to run the property, and that he’ll sue if the city ignores him.

Straub’s threats, which he made Wednesday at the council meeting and later repeated in an interview with The Press of Atlantic City, won’t affect the municipality’s actions, officials said Friday.

On Wednesday, council members showed little patience for Straub as he spoke of investing hundreds of millions of dollars in properties such as Revel and Bader Field to rejuvenate the local economy.

“The way you can help us is bring Revel on board,” Council President Frank M. Gilliam said.

The city began fining Straub this month for leaving the shuttered casino hotel a firetrap and failing to have competent engineers oversee the property’s alarms and other emergency equipment, city officials said.

“Give me some gas, give me some heat (and) I’ll do it,” an exasperated Straub replied, blaming what he called needless governmental hurdles for blocking him from enacting his latest plan to power the building.

The city intends to move ahead with Bader Field Sports LLC, the Midland Park-based company selected earlier this year to build a series of sports fields on Bader, officials say.

Gilliam and Chris Filiciello, Mayor Don Guardian’s chief of staff, both have said the city wants more time to work out unresolved details in its lease agreement with the company. Gilliam also said the city must ensure that plans for the property meet environmental regulations.

Greg Allen, Bader Field Sports vice president, originally anticipated opening his facility early in 2016 but said the plans required more time to develop. He said Friday that he expects the deal with the city to go through and hopes for a fall 2016 opening.

Allen said he has been contacted by numerous tournament operators interested in running events on Bader.

“I would be disappointed if it did get tied up in court,” he said, referring to Straub’s comments concerning his prospective lease agreement. “The only winners would be attorneys. The loser would be the city.”

On Friday, Gilliam referenced Straub’s history of suing opponents before adding, “I don’t have confidence in Mr. Straub’s ability to be of any service to this city.”

Even so, Gilliam said he is “looking forward to sitting down and talking to (Straub) about his plans for Revel.”

Filiciello said Guardian remains “open to anyone who is serious about bringing more jobs and opportunities to Atlantic City.”

For his part, Straub didn’t seem perturbed by recent events.

“That’s what makes good families, when they have a little controversy,” he said Friday, before jokingly referencing the televised dramas of the Kardashian family. “I don’t mind arguing if I have something to argue about.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Guardian said the Bader Field Sports proposal is the best temporary use of the property. Under the likely lease agreement, the fields would generate a few hundred thousand dollars a year in revenue for the city, he said, adding that the property’s value could increase in the future, eventually leading to a sale that would wipe the municipality’s debt clean.

Straub has said he wants to use Bader for a jet airport, equestrian competitions or motorsports, depending on what regulators would allow. Under his control, the property would be guaranteed to generate $7.5 million per year in revenue for the city, if not more, Straub said.

At the meeting, Councilman George Tibbitt reminded Straub of the temporary nature of the sports fields proposal, telling him he could always bid on Bader again at a future date.

But Straub said Friday he has no interest in waiting.

Story, video and photo:

Glenn Straub inside Revel Casino Hotel which he bought for $82 million, marking the end of a sale process fraught with dissension and delay, with shifting alliances and spoiled offers. Tuesday, April 7, 2015.

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