The Real Deal New York

How the fate of a pizza place and a multi-billion dollar project link in Atlantic City

A look at the life and death and resurrections of the Revel casino

September 07, 2015 12:00PM

The Revel

Revel Atlantic City casino and Tony Boloney pizza

“Listen, you gotta stick around,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told Mike Hauke, the owner of Tony Boloney pizza shop in Atlantic City.

“It’ll look bad if you close. Please don’t go anywhere,” executives at the bankrupt Revel Atlantic City casino added.

The plight of a small pizza shop operating in a distressed property surrounded by, what Hauke calls,  “shitbags, crackheads, hustlers and pimps”  — which happens to be next to the Revel, the largest private development project in New Jersey history — becomes a metaphor for the larger struggle to revive Atlantic City in an in-depth New Yorker piece.

In 2006, Morgan Stanley bought the land for the Revel casino for $70 million and then spent about $1.2 billion on development. In total, the bank sunk more than $2.4 billion into the project.

In 2009, the project ran out of cash and construction stopped. In 2010, Morgan Stanley quit the project and ate a billion dollar loss.

Christie came to the rescue with $250 million in tax incentives, and a scaled-back version opened in 2012. Buy 2014, it was bankrupt again.

Meanwhile, Chinese investors, Manhattan hedge-funders and [WHO??] Steve Wynn were ordering slices at the neighboring pizza place and hammering out deals. Check out the full piece here. —Christopher  Cameron