Press of Atlantic City | Vacant A.C. building being converted to apartments

October 4, 2015

By: John Santore

Dozens of new apartments on Atlantic Avenue in downtown Atlantic City could hit the market next spring if a developer’s plans are realized.

Mark Callazzo, the CEO of Alpha Funding Solutions and the owner of the The Iron Room and the Atlantic City Bottle Co., said he purchased the mothballed building at the intersection of Atlantic and North Boston avenues from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority in May.

The property fell into disuse after interior modifications made by a former owner were deemed structurally unsound, Callazzo said.

Work is already underway. Callazzo said he’ll fix the unsafe changes and produce a building hosting about 31 apartments, as well as businesses on its first floor.

One and two-bedroom units should be available by the spring, he said, ranging in price from $1,000 per month to $1,300 per month.

Callazzo said he’s involved in the project for the same reason he invested in the former Morris Guards Armory on New York Avenue. That property is currently being turned into apartments by the Philadelphia-based developer LPMG, which is also working on the Boston Avenue site.

“There’s still a work force in the area,” Callazzo said, referring specifically to young professionals who work in Atlantic City but live outside due to a lack of desirable housing options. “We’re trying to woo these workers offshore and back into the city.”

“We’re thrilled about it, because it’s activating a vacant property, which is one of our top priorities,” said city Planning Director Elizabeth Terenik of the project.

The city’s most recent master plan calls for it to grow its population, measured at 39,415 last year, by 10,000 people, Terenik said.

“There’s a need for new and renovated apartment buildings,” Terenik said. “It’s also nice to have a developer (at work) that is already in the city, because they’re more likely to be successful.”

Inderjit Gill, who owns the nearby Pads Liquor on Atlantic Avenue, said Sunday that he would welcome more local customers to his business, which has been hurting following the closure of the Atlantic Club in 2014.

Nisar Choudhar, the owner of the adjacent Rosario’s Mini Market and Deli, said his store used to be located in the Boston Avenue property and that he’d be eager to move back.

“You could have 20 or 30 families coming in,” said City Council candidate Chuen “Jimmy” Cheng, who owns the China Inn restaurant at the intersection of Atlantic and South Sovereign avenues.

Cheng said the purchase would help prevent the city from looking “like a ghost town.”

Toward the other end of the resort, Callazzo said he’s working to finalize his purchase of the disused firehouse at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Revel Boulevard.

Initial proposals for turning the property into the site of a craft distillery were scrapped following community objections. Callazzo said he’s now looking at reopening the structure as a shared office space.

He said he doesn’t expect any community challenges to the Boston Avenue project, considering the building was formerly used for the same purpose that he’s pursuing.

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