That's $1 billion for 142 acres of prime Atlantic City real estate surrounded on three sides by water and beautiful salt marsh. Only a half mile from the Boardwalk, suitable for casino development and more.
Now who's gonna bid $1 billion? Do we hear
$1 billion? $1 billion?
Hmmm ... OK, how about $850 million? ... $700 million?
Yes, Bader Field is officially up for sale or lease. The state Local Finance Board, thanks to a sensible state law approved this summer, approved the request for proposals last week. Let the bidding begin.
Of course, the timing couldn't be worse. Considering today's economic climate, developers are not likely to be immediately knocking down the door for this land, which was once expected to fetch $1 billion. Maybe it will - someday. But probably not right now.
What's important, however, is that there will be a fair and open bidding process, overseen by state government. And, thanks to the same law, the proceeds from any sale will go into a trust fund to be used solely for property-tax relief in Atlantic City.
Why should Trenton have anything to do with the sale or lease of this city-owned asset? Because Atlantic City is Atlantic City, with a long and continuing history of corruption. And the development of Bader Field has the potential to forever shape the future of the city.
All of which also leads us to the conclusion that Bader Field coming on the market in the midst of this financial crisis is actually a good thing.
Yes, it will slow the ultimate development of the site. But what's critical is finding the right bidder for the long-term benefit of the resort. There's no rush, and the city needs to get this right.
State oversight - and hard economic times - will ensure a certain discipline and a kind of hard-headed reality as the process unfolds. And that's good.