The owner of shuttered Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City says that plans to tear down the nearly 40-year building are already underway and that the city’s legal action seeking its immediate demolition is unnecessary.
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small’s administration filed last month a civil lawsuit in the Superior Court asking a judge to order that the owner of the former Boardwalk hotel and casino resort tear it down immediately.
City officials initiated the legal action after pieces of Trump Plaza’s facade tore loose during heavy winds and crashed to the sidewalk.
Atlantic City building department officials and firefighters inspected the property after the incident and classified it as an imminent risk to public safety. City Fire Chief Scott Evans said that there were “five big holes in this building” and that more panels would fall, which posed “threat to the surrounding area.”
Puzzled by Mayor Small’s Actions
Trump Plaza is owned by a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises LP, a diversified holding company managed by New York investor Carl Icahn. The property, built and previously owned by US President Donald Trump, was one of four hotel and casino resorts to close doors in Atlantic City in 2014 as a result of heavy regional competition and oversaturation of the local market.
Trump Plaza was supposed to be demolished in the fall of 2018, but no action has been taken since then by its owner.
Mayor Small said earlier this year that one of the goals before his administration would be to remove “the biggest eyesore in town.”
According to court documents filed this week by attorneys representing Trump Plaza’s owner, it has already hired a demolition project manager and that the entire building would be gone within the next two years.
Attorney Michael Sklar also noted that the civil lawsuit filed by Atlantic City requesting the immediate demolition of the former casino resort should be dismissed and that the “defendant is at a complete loss as to why the City is wasting the Court’s and parties’ time and effort on this matter.”
Mr. Sklar wrote in a recent response to the civil suit that the property does not pose an “imminent safety threat” and that Icahn Enterprises “has taken, and continues to take, substantial measures to secure the Plaza Tower and to protect the public.”
Demolition to Take Between 12 and 15 Months
Icahn Enterprises attorney also wrote that the Trump Plaza owner has already decided to tear down the building and that New York-based Gardiner & Theobald has been retained as the demolition project manager.
According to court documents, the property’s owner has informed Mayor Small that the demolition of the former casino resort could take between 12 and 15 months, following a nine-month window for bidding, securing necessary permissions, and project mobilization.
The area around Trump Plaza has been fenced off in a bid to prevent pedestrian access to the building. However, Atlantic City officials argue that what the measures taken are not enough to protect the public and ensure that the property does not pose a major threat.
Atlantic City’s Interim Solicitor Michael Perugini wrote earlier this week that Icahn Enterprises’ “proposed remedy – the installation of additional fencing – is inadequate to address the true problem: a building in dire need of demolition.”
The city’s legal representative went on that property of Trump Plaza’s size and location “cannot and should not be shedding debris from numerous stories high” and that the 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.’”