Pinnacle Ent. close to selling prime Atlantic City Boardwalk site

Oct 25, 2012 9:20 AM

Pinnacle Entertainment, the Las Vegas casino company that bought and blew up the former Sands Casino Hotel to make way for a $2 billion casino that never got built, says it’s close to selling the prime Boardwalk site where the project would have gone.

Pinnacle says it expects to have a deal in hand by the end of the year to sell its land. It did not say who the prospective buyer is, or what the price might be.

In a press release to announce its third quarterly earnings, Pinnacle revealed it is close to completing a deal for the land, which it once cautioned it expected to take a bath on.

“The company is progressing toward an agreement to dispose of its land holdings in Atlantic City, and expects to enter into a definitive agreement by year end,” Pinnacle said in its release, A company spokeswoman did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Pinnacle imploded the Sands in October 2007 to make way for a $2 billion beach house-themed casino. But almost as soon as the rubble was cleared away, the Great Recession hit, and the project was shelved soon afterward. Since then, ever-increasing competition has taken an even worse toll on Atlantic City, where casino revenues have fallen from $5.2 billion in 2006 to $3.3 billion last year.

The Las Vegas company bought most of the nearly 20-acre site for $270 million from entities affiliated with billionaire investor Carl Icahn in 2006, and later added nearby land worth another $70 million. Icahn now owns the Tropicana Casino and Resort, just a few blocks down the Boardwalk.

In 2010, Pinnacle said it expected to sell the land for a significant loss; a broker representing it said the empty land could sell for 70 percent less than Pinnacle paid for it.

Carlos Ruisanchez, the company’s executive vice president of strategic planning and development, said at the time Pinnacle expected to sell the land for “a significant discount.”

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