A Walk Down Memory Lane of The Golden Nugget Atlantic City
The former Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City was located at the Southernmost end of the casino boardwalk strip.
It is very sentimental to me.
I spent almost 9 years, working 6 long days per week in the earliest days of the Atlantic City casino hotel industry.
It was an exceptional proving ground, working for the most successful and dynamic owner and personality in the history of the hotel and casino industry in the United States, Steve Wynn.
Wynn built a winning culture, and this relatively tiny property at the corner of Boston and Pacific Avenues in Atlantic City (at the time) became the most profitable casino in the history of the world.
Envisioned by Wynn, designed by Joel Bergman and Atlandia Design, which was the beginning of a storied career for one of the world’s most successful casino designers, Paul Steelman.
It was built for $ 140 million and less than 8 years later, Wynn sold it to Bally’s for $ 440 million; as they blocked President Donald Trump from purchasing Bally’s.
In those days, one entity could not own more than three casinos.
Bally’s gladly paid Wynn a premium to keep Trump from buying them.
For those of us who worked at The Golden Nugget, it served as a launching pad for successful careers that would be built over the next 40 years.
If you can make it there (with Steve Wynn) … you can make it anywhere … cue the music and Frank Sinatra.
Here is the timeline and various iterations of this iconic property:
The Golden Nugget Atlantic City - 1980 to 1987
Bally’s Grand & The Grand - 1987 to 1996
Atlantic City Hilton - 1996 to 2011
ACH - 2011 to 2012
The Atlantic Club - 2012 to 2014
The Atlantic Club closed its doors on January 14, 2014.
Caesars Entertainment bought the property and Tropicana bought all the slot machines, gaming tables, and player databases in a joint bankruptcy purchase for $23.4 million combined.
On May 29, 2014, Caesars Entertainment sold the Atlantic Club to TJM Properties, a Florida development firm that purchased and reopened the former Claridge Casino Hotel in Atlantic City earlier in the year.
The reported Atlantic Club purchase price was $13.5 million. The firm planned to either reopen it as a non-gaming hotel property or sell it.
Despite numerous attempts to reopen the property as a non-gaming hotel (due to a deed restriction, which resulted in a lower purchase price), the property has remained dormant since January 2014.
The property, both interior, and exterior was recently used to make a Zombie movie.
The movie wasn’t great, but, it was a personal thrill to once again see activity inside the hotel, including the pool and spa area that I helped Chuck Malamut and Paul Steelman design.
In 2015, 2017, 2018 & 2019 numerous proposals for retail and nongaming proposals, even a water park were floated. No deal has been able to make it to the settlement table.
For example, In September 2018, Stockton University attempted to purchase the property to expand itself. It planned to keep the parking garage, but demolish the main structure. The deal fell through after TJM declined the sale.
Still later in the year, in November 2018, a development group from New York was in talks to buy The Atlantic Club, but a deal could not be reached.
It is always pleasant to reminisce about fond memories.
In many respects, these were the best of times (at this stage of our lifetime). Many of us were in our early to mid ’20s. We were a part of something exciting and big … we were living history in a brand new industry.
Steve Wynn gave us great responsibility and authority to manage his property and bought us brand new cars to drive and offered generous stock options.
It was an honor to work with presidents the likes of Shannon Bybee, Boone Wayson, and Hank Applegate.
And, I personally learned from the best in his field, Chuck Malamut, who taught me how to be a Hotel General Manager.
We’ll most likely never again be personal witnesses to a brand new industry and be afforded such golden opportunities.
It was a truly magical time.
NOTE: I have a book of spectacular personal photos of this amazing property. Check back with us here, as we’ll be updating this soon with a nice gallery of photos from The Golden Nugget in the 1980s.
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