By ELAINE ROSE | PressOfAtlanticCity.com
ATLANTIC CITY — Construction crews are back on the job at the site of the Revel casino project, and that means businesses in the area are ringing up more sales.
“We’ve hired 20 more workers (to start) in the next week,” said Mike Hauke, owner of Tony Baloney’s pizza restaurant two blocks from the site. “We’ve been jumping non-stop.”
Some of the uptick in sales is due to the approach of spring, but the construction site nearby is definitely contributing as the workers come in for lunch, Hauke said.
There is no doubt his business will grow even more after the new casino opens, as it will bring a lot of new visitors to the Southeast Inlet section of the resort, Hauke said.
Hauke said he knew it was a risk when he opened Tony Baloney’s in October 2009 in a part of town that had few residents and attracted no tourists.
“That’s why I do a lot of marketing,” he said. “We do a lot of crazy stuff here,” such as eating challenges and running pizza-making classes.
But the gamble paid off, and Tony Baloney’s is growing, Hauke said. The restaurant is scheduled to send a lunch truck out into the city later this month and plans to open a branch this summer in a location he declined to disclose.
A sign on the front of the Bella condominiums at Pacific and Connecticut avenues informs residents and passers-by that a “gourmet grocer” is opening soon on the ground floor.
But that’s not all. Bella manager Len Scannapieco said more people are expressing interest in buying one of about 60 units still unsold in the building of 200 condos. The fact that Revel recently obtained financing to complete its project and the creation of an Atlantic City tourism district are definite contributors to the upswing, he said.
“With the news that Revel is going to be open in 14 months, this is a ground-floor opportunity,” Scannapieco said.
Bargain-basement prices on the condos have gone up slightly since the Revel financing deal was announced, to about $235,000 for units on the lower floors to $410,000 for those on the 24th floor, Scannapieco said. Five of the eight penthouses on the 25th and 26th floors are available for upward of $1 million.
Interest in the units will increase as the Revel opening nears, as people will relish “living in a high-end luxury condo just steps away from a full-service destination,” Scan-napieco said.
Not to mention that Revel will employ as many as 6,000 people, and the highly-paid among them “can afford the best, and the best happens to be at their backdoor,” Scannapieco said.
Other businesses in the vicinity of the Revel expressed mixed feelings about the project.
Sabur Miah, an employee of the Baba Jones Food Market on Rhode Island Avenue, said he sees a few more shoppers on the one day a week he works there.
But Maritza Maldonado, who lives in the apartment above the store, said she sees more people coming in.
“There’s more activity around here now,” Maldonado said.
The repaving of Oriental Avenue outside of Ronny’s Deli is hurting business, as customers can’t get to the store, employee Raul Sam said. But some workers from the Revel site are coming in to buy lunch.
Once the road work is completed, Ronny’s will see more business, Sam said.