The price to press the button that will blow the former Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino to smithereens later this year has ballooned to $175,000.
To date, 15 online bids have been placed for the auction to implode the Atlantic City Boardwalk eyesore, with 15 days to go before the auction goes live at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19, complete with an auctioneer and the whole “Do I hear?” thing. And that auctioneer — Joe Bodnar, of Bodnar’s Auction of Edison — believes the bidding can get a little crazy from here on out.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and the fact it’s already at $175,000 with two weeks left means it’s going to hit $300,000 no problem, probably $500,000, and who knows, that million might be in sight,” Bodnar said. “Really, the sky’s the limit.”
Slip sliding away
The property, which has sat empty since 2014, started shedding facade last year during a storm, causing the Atlantic City government to label the building a safety hazard. Soon thereafter, the city took billionaire developer Carl Icahn — who now owns the property after picking up the three-times-bankrupt Trump Entertainment Resorts portfolio in 2016 — to court in an effort to get him to tear the whole thing down.
Icahn’s reply? More or less “hold my beer,” as he stated that was the plan anyway.
The two sides quickly came to an agreement on a date to destroy the property in late January, since moved back to early February.
And while the minor legal battle above was being played out, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. had a lightning bolt of an idea: bring a charity to the table to benefit from the blow-up.
“Some of Atlantic City’s iconic moments happened there, but on his way out, Donald Trump openly mocked Atlantic City, saying he made a lot of money and then got out,” said Small in a press release. “I wanted to use the demolition of this place to raise money for charity.”
Boys & Girls Club to profit
Enter the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City, a group that will get all the money raised in the auction. Serving over 2,500 youth in Atlantic City, the Boys & Girls Club has also taken on new duties during the coronavirus pandemic such as providing hot meals to families in need, opening its doors to students to learn remotely during the day, and extending its hours so as to operate as a full-day daycare operation.
And while the auction price is creeping up and the Boys & Girls Club is undoubtedly excited, it’s still not quite where Short wants it to land.
“Personally, I’m a pretty ambitious guy. I want to raise at least $1 million,” Small told the Atlantic City Press.
Built in 1984, the Boardwalk hotel was basically at the terminus of the Atlantic City Expressway. In short, for many would-be Atlantic City visitors, it was the first thing they’d encounter when they came into town.
And for a while there, the hotel — and the adjacent Boardwalk Hall — was the site of many a boxing championship bout, including the 1988 Mike Tyson destruction of Michael Spinks.
It’s been nearly 13 years since the last time an Atlantic City hotel has been imploded, with the Sands holding that honor.