See the old Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City demolished

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ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (AP) – A place on the Atlantic City boardwalk where movie stars, athletes and rock stars used to party, and a future president honed his instincts for bravado and hype, has been reduced to a heap. of smoking debris Wednesday. The former Trump Plaza casino collapsed after falling into such disrepair that chunks of the building began to break off and crash to the ground.

A series of loud explosions rocked the building around 9 a.m., and it began to collapse almost like a wave from back to front until it fell directly into a giant cloud of dust that engulfed the beach and boardwalk. Overall, the structure took less than 20 seconds to collapse. Mayor Marty Small estimated the remaining pile of rubble to be about eight stories high and would be removed on June 10. Some of it could be used by environmentalists interested in building an artificial fishing reef off the Atlantic City coast. The removal of the former jewel of former President Donald Trump’s casino empire paves the way for an excellent development opportunity in the middle of the boardwalk, where the Plaza used to be touted as “the centerpiece of Atlantic City.” “The way we put Trump Plaza and the city of Atlantic City on the map of the whole world was really amazing,” said Bernie Dillon, the casino’s events manager from 1984 to 1991. “Everyone from Hulk Hogan to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, he was the whole gamut of personalities. One night before a Tyson fight, I stopped in my tracks and looked around four rows as the place filled up, and there were two guys leaning close by and having a private conversation: Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty “. “It was like that a lot: they had Madonna and Sean Penn coming in, Barbra Streisand and Don Johnson, Muhammad Ali would be there, Oprah sitting with Donald in the front row,” she recalled. “It was a special moment. I’m sorry he’s leaving. “Although the former president built it, the building is now owned by another billionaire, Carl Icahn, who acquired the two remaining Trump casinos in 2016 from the last of his many bankruptcies. Small proposed using the demolition as a fundraiser. for the Boys And Girls Club of Atlantic City, and started an auction for the right to press the button that would bring down the structure. But Icahn, a donor and former special economic adviser to Trump, opposed on safety and liability issues and got the auction house stopped bidding. Icahn said he would replace the $ 175,000 that had already been bid with his own money. Opened in 1984, when Trump was a real estate developer in his pre-political days, Trump Plaza was for a time Atlantic City’s most successful casino It was the place to be when mega events such as a Mike Tyson boxing match or a Rolling Ston concert were held It is in the Boardwalk Hall next door. Ron Gatewood, a food and beverage worker at Trump Plaza from 1986 until its closure in 2014, brought food and beverages to stars like Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross and Barry White in their hotel rooms. “They were very practical people,” Gatewood recalls. “They never made you feel less. They gave him very good tips. Well, some did, anyway. “The casino even had a cameo in the movie” Ocean’s Eleven. “When George Clooney and Brad Pitt enlisted the character of actor Bernie Mac to help with a heist at a Las Vegas casino, They pulled him out of Trump Plaza, where he was a merchant. Bob McDevitt, president of the main casino workers union, said the place exuded glamor and excitement when it first opened. But things started to get worse for Trump Plaza when Donald Trump opened the casino. nearby Trump Taj Mahal in 1990, with an overwhelming debt load that led the company to invest most of its resources, and cash, in the gleaming new hotel and casino. “The moment the Taj Mahal opened, started a decline for the Plaza, ”McDevitt said.“ To make sure the Taj Mahal was a success, they sent all the high rollers from Trump Plaza and Trump’s Castle to the Taj, and they didn’t really invest much in the Plaza. ”The Trump Ta j Mahal, one of the casinos acquired by Icahn, has since reopened under a new owner as Hard Rock. Trump Plaza was the last of four Atlantic City casinos to close in 2014, victims of an oversaturated casino market in both New Jersey City and the Northeast. There were 12 casinos at the beginning of 2014; now there are nine. By the time it closed, Trump Plaza was the worst performing casino in Atlantic City, receiving as much money from players in 8 1/2 months as the market leading Borgata did every two weeks. Short-term plans require that the site be paved to provide new parking while a permanent development project is considered.