The Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City has been shuttered down for six months. It will not be opening any time soon though, but it does appear it will have new life breathed into it, as its sale to Hard Rock International was completed last week.
The Taj Mahal was owned by billionaire investor and present special advisor to President Trump, Carl Icahn. Icahn was the largest debt-holder of Trump Entertainment Resorts when that company entered its umpteenth bankruptcy proceeding in September 2014. When the company emerged out of bankruptcy in February 2016, Icahn assumed control over the Taj Mahal.
One would have anticipated that to be a good thing. The guy had billions of dollars and also owned the Tropicana, so he supposedly knew what to do. Icahn also stated that he would plow $100 million into the Taj for much needed renovations. The catch there, however, was that he wanted tax breaks from the state of New Jersey and Atlantic City and concessions from the Unite Here Local 54 union. He received the latter but not the former, so he never invested that $100 million.
Once Icahn took control, the union attempted to get its members’ benefits reinstated via negotiations, but when Icahn didn’t play ball, about 1,000 union members went on strike in July 2016. The next month, it was declared that the Trump Taj Mahal would shut down shop, with the company pointing fingers the striking employees.
The Taj Mahal officially closed on October 10th, 2016.
While reports were circulating that Icahn was in talks with casino operators to offload the property, he stated in January 2017 that the casino was not up for sale. It was believed that he was going to try to re-open it with non-union labor.
Shortly after Icahn said he wasn’t looking to sell the Taj Mahal, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian expressed his sentiments to reporters of a State of the City address:
It’s the worst of the worst, things like that. Taj Mahal was the crown jewel before the Borgata in Atlantic City. It’s a great facility, but it didn’t get that $100 million face lift that the other properties got in Atlantic City and so you knew it when you walked in there. But it’s a great property; I really hope that Mr. Icahn, if he doesn’t want to build, sells it…and lets someone else come in and do it.
He doesn’t have any faith in the city, I get it, or the state…but don’t let us lose that building and leave it vacant on the Boardwalk. We need the thousands of jobs, we need the taxes, and we need the type of activity that it draws to bring people to Atlantic City.
Upon hearing this, Icahn piped up, claiming he would sell the Taj Mahal to Guardian for $300 million, the same amount Icahn had allegedly lost on the property.
Fast forward a couple months to early March 2017 and Icahn finally agreed to terms with Hard Rock International. The sum of purchase has not been made available publically.
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