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Reimagining Atlantic City

Though Atlantic City, New Jersey, has primarily found itself in the news recently over closures, a remarkable amount of growth and rejuvenation has taken place in the past year in the tourism district.

John Palmieri, executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, spoke to The Group Travel Leader about the city’s transformation.


What is the new vision for Atlantic City?

Since we adopted the tourism district as part of the legislation that was approved in 2011, we’ve provided a focused strategy to reclaim the casino areas and the oceanfront, with an eye toward accelerating nongaming investments.

We’re sponsoring millions of dollars of events to create great reasons for people to visit, from beachfront concerts to triathlons to the Garden State Film Festival.


What new attractions are already up and running?

Together with the Atlantic City Alliance, we organized a boardwalk light and sound show that runs against the Boardwalk Hall every night at half-hour intervals.

They’ve brought several big name concerts this summer that brought in hundreds of thousands of visitors, most notably Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum, and just finished a deal with Live Nation to bring 12 to 15 nationally prominent concerts to Boardwalk Hall a year.


What are some of the new improvements coming soon?

We’re looking for destination-type entertainment retail. We’d like Margaritaville to come put a resort casino on the pier, and it sounds like they’ll be open in a little over a year.

We’re also planning to build a public market like the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia with an indoor-outdoor component right in the heart of the tourism district.

The owners of the Steel Pier amusement park want to build a several-million-dollar,150-foot observation wheel like the London Eye with big cabins where you can go and have a party and get a view of this exceptional landscape. They’re securing the last bit of financing now.

Gabi Logan

Gabi Logan is a freelance travel journalist whose work has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Dallas Morning News and Italy Magazine. As she travels more than 100,000 miles each year, she aims to discover the unexpected wonder in every destination.