Trump Plaza, the first casino Donald Trump ever built and a faded vestige of Atlantic City’s glamorous past, came crashing to earth on Wednesday (Feb 17) morning in a cloud of dirt, dust and noise.
Carefully placed explosives imploded the 39-storey white tower on the Atlantic Ocean, which stood empty for years.
City officials were keen to destroy it amid complaints that chunks of concrete were falling off the building.
A few hundred people in cars paid US$10 (S$13) to park at a former airfield less than 3.2km away on a freezing, winter morning to watch the Plaza’s final destruction.
Trump Plaza tower comes tumbling down with a blasting Atlantic City this morning a few minutes after 9 am pic.twitter.com/x7pDz69wDn
— Carol Comegno (@CarolComegno) February 17, 2021
While Mr Trump’s faded name could still be seen in the outlines of giant letters that once branded the building, he hasn’t owned it in years.
Mr Carl Icahn acquired it when he bought Trump Entertainment Resorts out of bankruptcy in 2016. Mr Icahn hasn’t disclosed plans for the property.
The mayor of Atlantic City, who fought to tear down the Plaza, said he wants it replaced with a mixed-use development, perhaps something centred on family entertainment.
“The last thing we need right now is another casino,” Mayor Marty Small said in an interview.
Taking down the building represents “turning the page, the dawn of a new era”, said Mr Small, a Democrat.
“The Trump era in Atlantic City will be officially over.”
The Plaza opened in 1984, the first of three casinos Mr Trump would eventually own in Atlantic City.
All of them would end up in bankruptcy.
“I like the casino business,” Mr Trump wrote in his 1987 book, The Art Of The Deal.
“I like the scale, which is huge, I like the glamour, and most of all, I like the cash flow.”
The Trump Plaza, the only casino Trump built from the ground up, operated for 30 years before closing in 2014. Icahn Enterprises, a major real estate developer, bought both the Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in 2016, Trump Plaza and the Trump Entertainment Resorts company.
Icahn never reopened nor sold Trump Plaza; the Taj was sold in 2018 and now carries the Hard Rock name.
Trump World’s Fair Casino, formerly Playboy and then Atlantis, closed in 1999 and was torn down the following year after only a few years of operation on the Boardwalk.
Trump Marina, located off the Boardwalk and first called Trump Castle, is now the Golden Nugget.
At the height of casino-resort development here, the city had more than a dozen casinos. It now has nine and the mayor and other officials are eyeing family and non-gaming attractions to grow the city’s appeal.
Icahn Enterprises has not announced a redevelopment or sale plan for the Plaza property between Columbia and Mississippi avenues, but Small said the city expect to meet with Icahn representatives in the future.
“This is going to be exciting. We have been waiting for this to come down for years. It’s a real eyesore,” said Elizabeth McGlinn, owner and operator of the glass-enclosed One Atlantic events venue at the far end of the former Caesar’s pier.