Ryan Blatstein remembers first coming to Atlantic City with his grandparents and going to Tivoli Pier, the play area that was once inside Tropicana.
Now, his father is turning the idea of a resort amusement park into a rebirth for the city and a possible real estate boon.
The Island Waterpark at Showboat is Bart Blatstein’s $100 million vision for Atlantic City.
Construction started Monday. But on Wednesday, Blatstein led a ceremonial groundbreaking for what he promised will be a waterpark like no other in the world.
It’s expected to take 16 months to complete.
“This is a game-changer,” Mayor Marty Small said. “I look forward to next year when people will be flocking to Atlantic City.”
Before that, the development will bring hundreds of jobs to the city, with residents getting top consideration, Blatstein said.
“Whenever I do a development in a neighborhood, the neighbors get first dibs at the jobs,” said the Tower Investments CEO.
There will be a job-training program, and even those who have criminal records will be considered.
Blatstein said he currently has employees who have been incarcerated.
“If someone made a mistake, that’s in the past,” he said.
It’s all about new beginnings.
“What we do is transformational development,” Blatstein said of his Tower Investments. “We patiently put a plan together to bring (the area) back.”
Although he knows this area is often impatient. Something he saw firsthand in what he said were weekly calls from the mayor.
It would begin with Small asking about the family and how Blatstein was doing. Inevitably, the discussion would lead to the same question: “When are you breaking ground?”
“That’s what leadership is,” the real estate developer joked. “Being annoying.”
It started six years ago with the purchase of Showboat. Since then, there’s been Matrxx Fitness and then Snake Eyes, the largest indoor arcade on the East Coast.
That gave him the confidence that the waterpark “would crush it,” he said.
“It will be the best thing Atlantic City has seen,” promised Ryan Blatstein, property manager for Tower Investments.
He and his father visited waterparks all over to see what worked, and what they could do differently.
Island Park will have ziplines, a gravity coaster and Boardwalk games along an indoor wooden way.
Then there’s the elder Blatstein’s favorite part: a 10,000-square-foot adults-only area.
“When you go to a waterpark you can’t escape the kids, let’s be honest,” said the grandfather of three. “You love them but, you know, there’s only so much fun you’re going to have climbing up and down stairs to go onto slides.”
This new development will spark interest from others, Small predicted.
“Once people see this, the sky’s the limit for the great city of Atlantic City,” he said.
“I love everything my family’s done,” said Ryan Blatstein, who hopes to build on his father’s vision.
“There’s so much progress here in the city,” he said. “We’re going to keep on striving, and doing bigger and better.”