Carl Icahn Bickers with Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian Over Fate of Stricken Trump Taj Mahal
Posted on: January 6, 2017, 05:00h.
Last updated on: January 6, 2017, 12:02h.
The action at the Trump Taj Mahal may be pretty slow these days, but while the casino stands silent and desolate, a war of words has developed over its future, between its current owner, billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn, and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian.
Icahn, a recently appointed adviser to the president-elect, recently applied to New Jersey regulators to surrender his license, meaning he does not plan to reopen it as a non-unionized property, as some had anticipated.
But he has also petitioned the New Jersey Superior Court for a deed restriction prohibiting any future owner of the property from reopening it as a casino, unless an extra fee is paid.
Guardian Faces Off
Ultimately, Icahn wants to make a profit from the millions he plowed into the casino after rescuing it from bankruptcy in 2014. The billionaire believed he could resuscitate the Taj, but only if the workers accepted a temporary cessation of pension and healthcare benefits.
But casino workers, and specifically those belonging to the Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, refused to accept his conditions and picketed the casino for almost four months, before its closure in October last year.
Speaking to the Associated Press after his unofficial State of the City speech this week, Guardian blasted Icahn’s plan to leave the casino dormant until he receives compensation as the “worst of the worst” of options, both for the Trump Taj Mahal and for Atlantic City.
$300 Million Down the Drain
The resort town is sweating hundreds of millions in debts as well as a state takeover of its finances, and the closure of the casino added 3,000 to Atlantic City’s unemployment quota. The last thing it needs now, says Guardian, is a property with the potential of the Taj sitting empty, possibly for years.
“He doesn’t have any faith in the city, I get it,” Guardian said. “But don’t let us lose that building on the Boardwalk. We need that activity and those jobs.”
When asked he if he had any advice for Icahn, he said, “Sell it, make a profit and move on.”
But Icahn, in response, told the Associated Press that he would be delighted to sell the property at a profit, although it might be out of the mayor’s budget.
“Telling us we should sell the Taj and make a profit is easier said than done,” he said. “We’ve lost almost $300 million on that investment. If he’s a buyer at that price, I’d be a happy seller.”
Icahn also asked where Guardian was when strikers forced him to shut the Taj down. “Some help back then would have been nice,” he suggested.
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