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Boardwalk condo complex and robotic parking garage proposed next to Revel casino project

Posted on | February 1, 2012 | No Comments

Developer Chip Pressman wants to build South Jersey’s first automated parking garage as part of a proposed 30-story condominium complex overlooking the Boardwalk in the resort’s South Inlet neighborhood.

The Metropolitan project would consist of 124 condominiums, a robot-operated parking system [Boomerang System’s RoboticValet™] and 4,400 square feet of retail space opening onto the Boardwalk next to Revel Entertainment Group’s casino, documents show.

Pressman, Lazocean’s president and head of Philadelphia-based CSP Realty Inc., will present details of the project to the Land Use Regulation and Enforcement Division of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority on Thursday – less than 24 hours after the CRDA board of directors is expected to approve the Atlantic City Tourism District Master Plan.

The city Planning Board rejected the project three years ago. The developer was appealing that decision when the CRDA took over planning powers in the Tourism District from local government last April. The proposal will be the first major one considered by CRDA officials since then, said the agency’s chief counsel, Paul Weiss.

Pressman’s plans have changed in the meantime, too. The original concept called for a traditional, 298-space parking garage and 86 condominiums in a 31-story building. The new design condenses parking to three levels, which allows for 38 more residential units in a structure of similar dimensions, project documents state.

Boomerang Automated Parking Systems oversaw the development of a garage at Crystal Springs Resort in Hardyston, Sussex County, that opened last year. That was the company’s first commercial use of its RoboticValet design, the updated and preferable system Pressman said they plan to use here. Four others in the U.S. – including one in West New York, Hudson County – and another in Dubai are under construction, Boomerang’s website states.

The Metropolitan would be the first – developed by Boomerang or otherwise – to open in the southern part of the state, Pressman said Tuesday. “People hear robotics and have all these strange, crazy thoughts, and so did I. But then you see the thing and realize it’s really simple,” he said. Pressman said he did not want to use a longer-standing automated parking model for his oceanfront project because the older systems are more susceptible to damage by sand and saltwater. “(With those), if salt or sand gets into the tracks, you have to get an engineer out there to fix it,” he said. “This one, if a robot has an issue, another takes its place and the system keeps operating. This one is much more reliable.

Boomerang’s system also guards against shutdowns through an alert system that’s triggered while components are still working, but operating outside established parameters, documents show. “This is different – each unit is independent,” Pressman said. He said he expects to start building in spring 2013 and finish a year later, provided he does not encounter any obstacles getting permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Lazocean has agreed to pay $883,696 for its share of costs for ongoing neighborhood infrastructure initiatives, including the CRDA’s South Inlet Road Project and a water line extension under the Boardwalk. On top of that, the Cherry Hill-based company must reimburse Revel for improving the 35-foot-long stretch of Boardwalk fronting the proposed high-rise, documents show. “This is the (CRDA’s) first major approval for something from the ground up,” Weiss said.

Weiss also is the hearing officer for the agency’s land-use division, which means his recommendations – subject to approval by the CRDA board – determine project approval in the Tourism District. In this case, the board likely will vote on his recommendation at its meeting March 20, Weiss said.

Atlantic City and other local governments base project approvals on votes by planning and zoning boards, which are made up of local elected officials’ appointees. Like that vetting process, the CRDA procedure – modeled after those used by the state Pinelands and Meadowlands commissions – includes public hearings on development proposals and notifications of nearby property owners, Weiss said. The state law that put the Tourism District development in the hands of CRDA officials also left the approval procedure to the agency, although, like all of the agency’s actions, it is subject to review by the Governor’s Office, Weiss said.

“CRDA’s experts vet the factual issues, concerns and anomalies, and that gets discussed at the hearing. Based on that discussion, and municipal land-use requirements and what the city’s ordinances require, we make our recommendation to the CRDA (board),” Weiss said. “We thought that was the most expeditious and streamlined approach we thought we could bring to managing land-use matters in the city.”

Adapted from the Press of Atlantic City

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