Planned Trump Casino auction demolition called off
The planned auction for the chance to implode the Atlantic City Trump Plaza Casino has been called off after the building’s owner, a subsidiary controlled by President Trump, supports him.
The New York Times reports the auction had drawn a high bid of $175,000 and was cancelled after a subsidiary controlled by a company run by Carl Icahn, a billionaire investor, cancelled it, according to the auction house.
The proceeds of the auction would have gone to the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City.
The auction house, Bodnar’s Auction, said in a notice on its website that the Icahn subsidiary “was not on board with the situation and would in no way participate or help facilitate, citing safety issues.”
A spokesman for Icahn Enterprises declined to answer questions about the specific concerns.
He said that one of Mr Icahn’s foundations would donate $175,000 to the Boys & Girls Club “to replace the auction proceeds that they would have purportedly received.”
Chief execution of the club Stephanie Koch said that she had not received any notice about a donation.
“There has not been any communication with Icahn at this point,” she said.
The property opened as Harrah’s at Trump Plaza in 1984 and was one of three casinos President Trump would come to control in Atlantic City that employed thousands of workers and brought in hefty gambling revenues.
The casinos would help define Atlantic City as a vital centre for gambling outside of Las Vegas.
But over the years, casinos in other nearby states, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York, drew business away from Atlantic City.
The waterfront Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino closed in 2014 as President Trump’s casino businesses floundered and the building had fallen into disrepair.
At one point, there were 13 casinos in Atlantic City.
Today, there are nine.
With sports betting legal, the remaining casinos have tried to reinvent themselves in recent years.
Their shuttering during the early days of the coronavirus crisis dealt the city a significant blow, putting 27,000 workers out of work before a cautious reopening.
An analysis by the Brookings Institution about the pandemic’s blow to metropolitan areas nationwide in March found the economy of Atlantic City could be third hardest hit in the country.
The Trump Plaza property had become a dangerous eyesore sitting on prime land for development.
The mayor of Atlantic City, Marty Small, said it was deemed an “imminent hazard” in the spring and slated for demolition.
Mr Small, a Democrat, announced the plan to demolish the building and to raise money for the Boys 7 Girls Club through an auction in December.
“Some of Atlantic City’s iconic moments happened there, but on his way out, Donald Trump openly mocked Atlantic City, saying he made a lot of money and then got out,” Mr Small said.
“I wanted to use the demolition of this place to raise money for charity.
In an interview, Mr Small said the city had not gotten explicit approval from the building owner for the auction plan, but he said he had moved forward anyway with the event, hoping to generate $1 million for charity.
Days after the sale went live, lawyers for Icahn subsidiary objected.
Bodner’s Auction said they had been exchanging messages with lawyers for weeks “trying to come to some kind of resolution”, before they sent him a cease-and-desist letter.
“That’s what led to us taking it off the auction block,” they said.