Atlantic City Facing Unprecedented Economic Collapse

full-state map

full-state map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Atlantic City region is on the brink of a short-term economic disaster.

Atlantic City made history 36 years ago when it opened the first legal casinos in the United States outside Las Vegas.

Now it’s doing so again as casino employment – which for years exceeded the number of city residents – drops precipitously after a decade of steady decline.

The closing of three casinos, starting with Showboat and Revel this weekend followed by Trump Plaza two weeks later, and the rapid-fire loss of 5,700 jobs, draw historic comparisons to longer-term collapses of U.S. industries such as steel.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140831_Atlantic_City_facing_unprecedented_economic_collapse.html#GmfpHBJZ5OpDgeaJ.99

Casino Closings Wipe $2 Billion From Atlantic City Property-Tax Values

English: Picture of the Tropicana from the Boa...

English: Picture of the Tropicana from the Boardwalk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The closure of three Atlantic City casinos by mid-September will wipe $2 billion from the city’s property-tax values next year, exacerbating the already cash-strapped city’s financial plight, Mayor Don Guardian warned Tuesday.

By 2017, Guardian said on a conference call to discuss Atlantic City’s way forward as a tourism center following the rout of its casino industry, property values are expected to have fallen to as little as $7.5 billion from $20 billion five years ago.

In the short term, Guardian said the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has made money “available for some bridge loans to make sure that the city continues functioning with this year’s budget because of any concern that we might have that a casino’s closing, going bankrupt might hold off payments.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140827_Casino_closings_wipe__2B_from_Atlantic_City_property-tax_values.html#9bAf73M2kyMlu0jB.99

Prayers For Atlantic City As Closings, Layoffs Loom

English: Atlantic City (NJ) - The boardwalk in...

English: Atlantic City (NJ) – The boardwalk in a rainy day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ATLANTIC CITY – Members of the clergy locked arms as they led a march of about 400 Unite Here Local 54 members in “a prayer vigil for Atlantic City’s service economy” on Wednesday night.

“This is union territory,” the casino workers chanted as they marched along New Jersey Avenue amid car horns honking in support. Many held signs, including Linda Bragg, 56, of Atlantic City, who works at Bally’s. Hers read: “Atlantic City – Broken Promises.”

“We don’t want to be a forgotten town,” she said. “I grew up with all these people. We made millions for the state. It’s really heart-wrenching. A mess.”

The march, on the eve of three planned casino closures, started between the Revel and Showboat casino hotels on the Boardwalk at 6:30 and ended more than an hour later at New Shiloh Baptist Church on Atlantic Avenue. Several pastors and bishops held a prayer service in support of the employees, many of whom are members of their churches.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140821_Prayers_for_Atlantic_City_as_closings__layoffs_loom.html#OST66wvzBszPrqpJ.99

Cold Winter, Cool Spring Bring Mixed Results For Lehigh Valley, N.J. Farmers

English: Apples on an apple-tree. Ukraine. Рус...

English: Apples on an apple-tree. Ukraine. Русский: Яблоня со спелыми плодами. Украина. Latina: Malus domestica (Borkh., 1803) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This winter’s cold temperatures that stuck around until late spring have curbed apple production at one local orchard, although local vineyards say the grapes are some of the best they’ve ever seen.

Tianna DuPont, an educator for sustainable agriculture at the Penn State Cooperative Extension, said the growing season started out about three weeks late, although recent warm weather is helping plants catch up.

Matty Matarazzo, the owner of Four Sisters Winery in White Township, expects a smaller than usual yield of apples this year. He said they’ll grow enough for the winery’s apple wine but not an abundant amount.

Bob Best, of Bests Fruit Farm in Independence Township, said the cool spring threatened his crops initially, but once the weather warmed up the produce started to grow.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2014/07/despite_cool_start_growing_sea.html

Wiz Khalifa Taking Under The Influence Tour To Camden / Scranton

Editor’s note:  Don’t necessarily agree with some of his activities but it’s cool to see somebody from Pittsburgh love their hometown and be proud of it.  

Summer is Wiz Khalifa time. His tune “Shell Shocked” is on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sound track. His new album, Blacc Hollywood, drops in August. And the rapper will take his third Under the Influence of Music summer tour through Scranton on Thursday and to Camden on Friday.

“I always wanted to make Under the Influence something to talk about,” says Khalifa, “not just the day after the show, but the rest of your life.”

He’s a Pittsburgh native. His 2010 hit “Black and Yellow” was a pledge of allegiance to the Steelers. “Eagles, Steelers,” he says. “You know there’s no competition. You already know about that.” But there is a Philly connection: his wife, South Philadelphia-raised Amber Rose. “My Philly girl,” he calls her. He and the model married in 2013 after their son, Sebastian, was born, and they settled in Canonsburg, near Pittsburgh.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20140724_Wiz_Khalifa_taking_Under_the_Influence_tour_to_Scranton_and_Camden.html#sQPxiIK8oCy2WyV3.99

If 4 Atlantic City Casinos Close In September, Then What?

English: Atlantic City (NJ) - The boardwalk in...

English: Atlantic City (NJ) – The boardwalk in a rainy day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – This resort faces the prospect of having four major vacancies on its famed Boardwalk come mid-September.

The grim reality sank in July 14 when Trump Plaza issued layoff notices and targeted Sept. 16 as the date to cease operating as a casino.

Perception is reality in tourism, experts say, and the Boardwalk is synonymous with Atlantic City. How will four hulking, empty buildings sit with visitors – especially at night – and will they impede tourism when Atlantic City needs it the most?

“When an area goes dark, and there are increased vacancies, it generally sends out more than a subtle message that things are not promising on the horizon,” said Don Moliver, dean of the Leon Hess Business School at Monmouth University.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140722_Atlantic_City_lights_dimmer_in_September.html#LRbj1JvhlyPXrwkJ.99

Cities Deploy Fakery Techniques To Cover Up Urban Blight

Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden U.S. cities, has awaited rebirth for a generation. For now, it has Christopher Toepfer and his paintbrush.

Ten feet up a ladder, Toepfer, a 51-year-old artist, is turning a rotting factory’s plywood-covered windows from a mess of gang graffiti into a railroad mural. The spruce-up, though it won’t cure the neighborhood’s ills of poverty and violence, will make a bright spot of the biggest blight on Federal Street.

Thirty years after New York City Mayor Ed Koch drew scorn for gussying up uninhabitable Bronx tenements with decals of curtained windows, urban fakery is spreading in U.S. cities where the recession’s wave of foreclosures added to decades-long decay. The city of Wilmington, Delaware, used the decal approach on a string of row houses earlier this year, and Bridgeport, Connecticut, started working with local artists in October to adopt Toepfer’s approach.

If the technique that Toepfer calls aesthetic board-up is a stopgap, it’s a cheap one, costing just $500 to $1,000 per property, a fraction of demolition costs. It’s also immediate, with a typical makeover done in less than a day.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/07/05/Vacant-House-Fakery-Reborn-as-Cleveland-to-Camden-Fight-Blight/stories/201407040018#ixzz36bqH18zQ

Glassboro’s Downtown Tries Again For Revitalization

Map of New Jersey highlighting Gloucester County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Gloucester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Glassboro’s historic downtown, the story of one building chronicles the district’s past – and, perhaps, its future.

A colorful storefront at 11 E. High St. that now houses an artsy glass business previously held a short-lived studio and art gallery, a locally owned coffee shop, and, as far back as the mid-1900s, a neighborhood grocery store that was reportedly the first in the town to sell frozen food.

Once thriving and serving the everyday needs of nearby residents, this downtown district is the subject of a revitalization campaign as borough officials try to build on the success of nearby Rowan University and create a vibrant arts community.

A blacktop connection, Rowan Boulevard, which is a new roadway and $300 million redevelopment project, broke ground in 2009. But a vacant lot between the boulevard and the longtime downtown area – described by one person as the “gray area” between the old and new – testifies to the work still to be done.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20140526_Glassboro_s_downtown_tries_again_for_revitalization.html#41Wr7GLgC8h42IM6.99

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In Solving Camden Homicides, Intimidation Is Huge Hurdle

English: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poor...

English: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Camden suffers from unemployment, urban decay, poverty, and many other social issues. Much of the city of Camden, New Jersey suffers from urban decay. 日本語: ニュージャージー州カムデンのスラム. Svenska: Camden, New Jersey is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Kiswahili: Camden, New Jersey ni moja ya mataifa maskini zaidi katika miji ya Marekani. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ernesto Torres was gunned down nearly two months ago, the bullets flying, his family suspects, because of his dispute with another man about a woman.

Like others whose loved ones have been killed in Camden this year, his mother, Cary Soldevila, hoped for a quick arrest. But the investigation, which came to a head over the weekend when an arrest warrant was issued for a suspect, took patience.

“I want peace in my heart,” said Soldevila, 43, “that I can go to sleep at night and know that this person who destroyed my life is put away.”

Torres, 22, is one of 17 people killed in Camden so far this year. Of those 17 homicides, 12 are unsolved. Investigators say they have promising leads in some of the cases. But witness intimidation, a lack of people willing to step forward, and a backlog of homicide cases from past years – including 2012, when a record 67 people were killed – have slowed progress.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20140526_In_solving_Camden_homicides__intimidation_is_huge_hurdle.html#QDSmOQafb3k89YLB.99

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Long Beach Islanders Eager To Show Off Rebuilt Businesses

Map of New Jersey highlighting Ocean County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Ocean County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The members of the iconic Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club were determined to open their new building before the start of summer, the second since Hurricane Sandy washed out their former home.

They got their certificate of occupancy Friday afternoon, just in time for a planned grand opening the next day, coinciding with an annual striper fishing tournament known as the LBI Cup.

On Sunday morning, the day after 500 people flooded the club’s new three-story headquarters, Vice Commodore Tim Irons walked around the bare rooms, proudly showing off the bathroom tiling and the views from the top floor.

“It’s completely paid off,” he said. “We just don’t have any furniture yet.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140526_Long_Beach_Islanders_eager_to_show_off_rebuilt_businesses.html#gb5PvxZu02CUrVaA.99

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New Jersey-To-Philly Commuters Face Rough Summer

A PATCO Speedline train pulls into Woodcrest s...

A PATCO Speedline train pulls into Woodcrest station, heading towards Philadelphia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) – Commuters between southern New Jersey and Philadelphia are in for a rough summer.

Work on the tracks and electrical systems on the PATCO Speedline will mean a less frequent schedule for the train line used by 40,000 per day and closed car lanes on the Ben Franklin Bridge, which carries trains – and 100,000 cars daily – over the Delaware River,

“I have no choice but to catch the train because the parking is horrible and expensive over there,” Juanita King, who works as a scheduler at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital, said before she hopped on her train recently at Camden’s Ferry Avenue Station, a popular place for park-and-ride customers from Camden and Gloucester counties.

A round-trip ride from there is $4.50 a day and most of the parking is free.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140525_ap_f585186901dd4e639c628853a7f38cd5.html#hVeJsZcKJYLOL6tO.99

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Gains And Losses In Philadelphia Region’s Population

A number of communities in the region’s Pennsylvania suburbs, notably in Chester and Montgomery Counties, grew substantially between April 2010 and July 2013, Census Bureau population estimates released Thursday show.

In Chester County, there were noteworthy upticks in municipalities such as Malvern, West Chester, East Brandywine, and West Goshen, and the same was true in Chester/Delaware County border towns such as Bethel and Chadds Ford. In central Montgomery County, Upper Hanover, Towamencin, and Salford were among the burgeoning towns.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia remained the fifth-largest U.S. city, with a population estimated at 1.553 million through July 2013, an increase of just over 27,000 from April 2010. It was the seventh year in a row of population growth, the census data showed.

(Population estimates for neighborhoods within the city limits will not be available until December.)

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140523_Gains_and_losses_in_Phila__region_s_population.html#MHpPEge1UgkCE6DR.99

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Ocean City Tops New Jersey’s Best Beaches

Kites on the Ocean City, New Jersey beach at 1...

Kites on the Ocean City, New Jersey beach at 12th Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ocean City has reclaimed its status as New Jersey’s most popular beach in an annual online voting contest.

The Cape May County resort took top honors in the New Jersey Top Ten Beaches contest. Results were announced Thursday.

The contest is sponsored by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and Stockton College as a way of making people feel more connected to and protective of the state’s 127-mile coastline.

Ocean City, which calls itself “America’s Greatest Family Resort,” won the contest in 2009 as well.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20140523_Ocean_City_tops_New_Jersey_s_best_beaches.html#vUkM9YDKhPyAljsU.99

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Philadelphia-Area Municipalities Gaining, Losing Residents Fastest

The U.S. Census Bureau released new data today, showing the “subcounty” population figures for the year that ended July 1, 2013. That means every municipality in the country, no matter how small, can see how many residents it gained or lost in that period.

Census figures for counties and metro areas were released earlier this spring, with Philadelphia’s population standing at 1,553,165 residents, a 0.29-percent increase from the previous year.

The new numbers show which municipalities in the area gained or lost residents at the fastest rates between July 2012 and July 2013, and since the 2010 Census.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillylists/Philadelphia-area-municipalities-gaining-losing-residents-fastest.html

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Downtown Phillipsburg Homes And Businesses Starting To See Improvements From Tax Credit Program

Map of New Jersey highlighting Warren County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Warren County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PHILLIPSBURG, NJ – A $1 million investment has started trickling into the heart of downtown Phillipsburg.

The area from the black bridge on South Main Street to Stockton Street, between the Delaware River and Sitgreaves Street, is the target of the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit Program.

John Korp, associate director of the Northwest New Jersey Community Action Program, said people from more than 20 businesses and 30 owner-occupied homes have shown interest or submitted paperwork to enroll. Business owners need to identify what needs they have and may be eligible for reimbursement for curb-appeal, lighting and security upgrades.

Phillipsburg Downtown Association President Joe Little called it a “fantastic” opportunity for the businesses in the area. Many of the shop owners have a to-do list of improvements they had to back burner because of the economy, he said in an email last week.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/phillipsburg/index.ssf/2014/05/downtown_phillipsburg_homes_an.html

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Widespread Flooding Submerges Cars, Causes Major Commute Problems

The logo of the United States National Weather...

The logo of the United States National Weather Service. The source page states that is not an “official” version but it looks very close to the version used on NWS’s website. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rain that pounded the Philadelphia region last night and into this morning left widespread flooding that stranded motorists and caused the shutdown of major routes from the western suburbs to South Jersey.

The National Weather Service said around 5 inches fell in most parts of the area, with some places seeing a bit more, such as the 6.56 inches recorded in Spring City, Chester County.

A weather service flood warning is in effect until 12:45 p.m. Authorities are warning that the flood situation is dangerous in many areas as motorists continued to underestimate the severity. Rescue crews were busy throughout the night rescuing stranded drivers.

Even though the flooding had started to recede, crews were still busy rescuing people this morning.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Widespread_flooding_submerges_cars_causes_major_commute_problems.html#mqwogWXh5swhAXoc.99

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NJ’s Largest Paper, Star-Ledger, Cuts 40 News Jobs

The Star-Ledger

The Star-Ledger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – New Jersey’s largest newspaper is cutting about 170 jobs, including 25 percent of its newsroom positions, as it moves to consolidate operations and cut costs.

The Star-Ledger reported Thursday on NJ.com that the cuts will mean the loss of 40 of the 156 newsroom staffers at the paper.

Other journalists at the newspaper are being offered jobs at NJ Advance Media, a new company being created by parent company Advance Publications to provide content, advertising and marketing services to all of its papers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20140403_ap_bcb3f7ff38f04519b9d0130680554985.html#yfmrwV6huUd6q3Sx.99

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After Sandy, Feds Mull Plan For Artificial Islands

Map of New Jersey

Map of New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) – A string of artificial islands off the coast of New Jersey and New York could blunt the impact of storm surges that proved so deadly during Superstorm Sandy, according to a proposal vying for attention and funding as the region continues its recovery.

It’s a big proposal that would cost $10 billion to $12 billion. But it’s also the kind of innovative idea that federal officials requested as they consider how best to protect the heavily populated region from future storms.

“We’ve discussed this with the governor’s office of Recovery and Resiliency and the Department of Environmental Protection, and they all look at me like, ‘Whoa! This is a big deal!” said Alan Blumberg, a professor at New Jersey’s Stevens Institute of Technology. “Yes, it is a big deal. It can save lives and protect property.”

The “Blue Dunes” proposal is part of Rebuild By Design, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to come up with novel ways to protect against the next big storm. It is one of 10 projects that will be evaluated and voted on next week, but there’s no guarantee any of them will receive funding. Other ideas include building sea walls around cities, re-establishing oyster colonies in tidal flats to blunt wave action and creating water-absorbent nature and recreational preserves.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20140329_ap_1e8e64f34e79453995e001fecbadea40.html#Az12YvxsczmA1fud.99

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Pa., N.J. Lawmakers Launch Effort To Rein In Delaware River Port Authority

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the B...

English: A shot from the Pyramid Club of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night. First posted at: Brozzetti Gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Republican legislators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are planning a coordinated effort to change the Delaware River Port Authority and alter its federal charter.

Bills will be introduced in Harrisburg and Trenton to prohibit economic-development spending by the DRPA, give Pennsylvania’s governor the same veto authority over DRPA actions now held by New Jersey’s governor, and require state Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appointments to the DRPA board in Pennsylvania, as is now done in New Jersey.

The bills would also:

- Require a two-thirds majority of the board to approve any toll increases on the DRPA’s four toll bridges;

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20140326_Pa___N_J__lawmakers_launch_effort_to_rein_in_DRPA.html#b3cTW5MXkkoRHgws.99

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Bolaris: Models Align For A Brush With Snow

It looks like the storm we have been watching for days will take on a similar track as the one two weeks ago, when most of the snow fell across southeast New Jersey and Delaware. This storm should generally follow the same path.

Computer models for the last several days have differed largely on the outcome for this storm. Ranging from the North American model blasting us with heavy snow, the global forecasting model ejecting the storm off the Florida coast and the European and Canadian models painting a swath of heavy snow just east of Philly.

Then a wild swing with the global models put Philly back into the heavy snow as the North American model completely went the other way – with no snow for Philly.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Bolaris_Models_align_for_a_brush_with_snow.html#LLxlhBm6vi7G5wU7.99

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