ATLANTIC CITY - A month away from a deadline for developers to bid on one of the most valuable tracts on the East Coast, things aren't looking grand.
After emerging from a briefing with their head property consultant Thursday, city officials confirmed they have not received any offers on Bader Field, a 143-acre property owned by the city and primed for casino development.
Despite the news and the crumbling economy, the resort is not bowing to suggestions it extend the Jan. 14 deadline.
Councilman Dennis Mason said he, Mayor Lorenzo Langford and other officials are balking at advice from hired consultants to give developers more time to consider investing in the site.
"I don't see what difference a few months is going to make," Mason said Thursday. "If we don't get anything real, we can pull it off the table and give the economy some time."
Mason said the lack of offers did not concern him, claiming it is not unusual for developers to wait until the deadline before submitting an offer, a strategy designed to avoid information leaks.
Still, the shaky credit markets could hold back developers from making an offer, a possibility the city was ready for when it put the property on the market in October.
Langford's spokesman, Kevin Hall, confirmed the mayor wants to proceed as intended, but he offered little insight beyond that.
Hall did say the mayor is already working on a back-up plan he will announce if the bidding process proves unsuccessful by January's deadline. He did not elaborate.
Langford was hesitant to discuss his opinion on Bader Field's development during his campaign for mayor, expressing concern that others would combat his plans if he announced them prematurely.
He previously voiced a need to find the best use for the property and the highest amount of capital for the city, but added he is cautious of the potential for Bader Field to steal attention from the Boardwalk casinos.
Thursday's meeting was the administration's first with Jones Lang LaSalle, a national consulting firm hired to manage the bidding process since Langford was sworn in. Along with consultants from the firm, attendees of Thursday's meeting included the mayor, Business Administrator Redenia Gilliam-Mosee, Planning Director William Crane, Councilmen Mason and George Tibbitt and city attorney Andrew Weber.
Weber declined comment on the meeting when reached by phone Thursday night.
Several casino developers who previously expressed interest have backed off their initial enthusiasm, including MGM Mirage Inc., which publicly said it would not submit a bid.
Penn National Gaming Inc. submitted a $800 million offer nearly a year ago, but state officials intervened and passed legislation stripping the city of its authority and essentially forcing it to put the property out to bid. Penn National is expected to revise and renew the offer. Others with potential interests include casino mogul Steve Wynn, Boyd Gaming Corp. and Mohegan Sun.