|By Emily Previti, The Press of Atlantic
City, Pleasantville, N.J.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 16, 2012--ATLANTIC CITY -- Tom Sherwood, the developer behind the Diving Horse Gentlemen's Club, wants to build a $123 million hotel and indoor waterpark in the resort's Marina District.
Sherwood and Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford will formally announce the project at a press conference today at City Hall.
Plans for the Diving Horse Resort and Water Park call for a 183-room hotel and a water park that will operate year-round on Huron Avenue, Sherwood said Tuesday.
Sherwood paid $4.4 million for the seven-acre property five years ago, tax records show.
He said he was approached with the idea four years ago, but originally wanted to build a casino there instead. But the decline of the local gambling market since then and Gov. Chris Christie's push during the past couple years to more amenities for families in the resort convinced him to pursue the idea, he said.
"This is going to be a wonderful thing for Atlantic City," Sherwood said. "It will be a great place for (people) to drop the kids off (while they) go over to the Borgata or the Golden Nugget."
Although both those casinos and Harrah's Resort nearby sit within the Atlantic City Tourism District, Sherwood's land does not. That means the city -- not the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority -- will handle the project-approval process.
"That moves things a little faster," Sherwood said.
Sherwood opened Diving Horse last summer. Intended to be a higher-end place, the club's dancers disrobe to a burlesque-style outfit inside the richly-decorated club on Martin Luther King Boulevard between Atlantic and Pacific avenues. Sherwood's children run the 55,000-square-foot complex, which is also home to nightclub Luxx Lounge, gay bar The Brass Rail, and the Saints and Sinners erotic couples' club.
City officials did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment.
Atlantic City Councilman Frank Gilliam, who heads the governing body's Planning and Development Committee, did not return calls seeking details about Sherwood's plans, nor the status of another proposal that called for an indoor waterpark.
Nearly a year ago, developer Win-Win OND provided the city with a 106-page report detailing plans for an $848 million family entertainment complex on Bader Field.
A kind of Dave & Buster's on steroids, the development would include a 3,000-room hotel, movie theater, 69,000-square-foot arcade, age-restricted condos, restaurants and a 100,000-square-foot casino and bingo hall in what's now Surf Stadium linked by an elevated monorail to Atlantic City's casino and shopping district.
Win-Win offered $426 million for the 142-acre site in the city's Chelsea Heights neighborhood contingent upon incentives such as a 20-year, 75 percent local tax rebate and "adequate water and sewer facilities."
State laws created in 2008 by former mayor and state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, require the Local Finance Board to sign off on the sale of city-owned Bader Field if the price exceeds the municipal budget, which is $232 million this year.
The same year those laws took effect, Penn Gaming offered $800 million for the site.
Bader Field hosted one of four Dave Matthews Band Caravan tour stops last summer and is slated to host four music festivals during the upcoming season, plus a triathlon, seafood festival and other events. In the Tourism District Master Plan, consultants agree using the former municipal airport as an event venue works for now. But officials should pursue noncasino development there in 10 years or so, when an improved economy and investment planned elsewhere in the city will create the optimum environment for building on Bader Field, the plan states.
CRDA officials ignored requests by Langford, whose elected office guarantees him one of 15 seats on the agency's board, to keep Bader out of the Tourism District.
The Master Plan also advises building another resort in the Marina District, but not for another decade.
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