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ATLANTIC CITY-Even by Donald Trump’s standards, it’s a biggie. Carrying a price tag of more than $1.5 billion, a casino/hotel project being proposed by Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc. would rise 62 stories into the South Jersey sky, contain more than 4,600 guest rooms, include a half-million sf of retailing and entertainment, provide jobs for 7,000 people and park almost 10,000 cars. By comparison, Trump’s signature Taj Mahal is 50 stories high and has less than half as many guest rooms.

The proposal has just gotten the approval of the Casino Reinvestment Development Commission as part of a package of a half-dozen entertainment-retail district projects (none of the others is close to Trump’s proposal in size and scope). The impetus for all of them is a new state law that offers tax breaks to casinos that expand their non-casino facilities. Neither Trump nor local officials would comment further on the proposal, but if the project gets done it will be the second largest hotel in the country, topped by only Las Vegas’ 5,000-room MGM Grand.

The big question among observers, however, is whether it will in fact ever happen. Beyond complicated questions of getting financing for a casino/hotel project of this size is whether Trump will have enough land to build it. The approved site is the 2.5 acres formerly occupied by the Trump World’s Fair Casino, which was torn down earlier this year. But that’s not nearly enough land according to observers, who say Trump would, at the very least, have to buy the five acres occupied by part of the Boardwalk Convention Center. The New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority owns the latter.

Another factor turning off some observers is the timeline–construction isn’t slated to start until the middle of 2007, with completion in late 2009. As one industry observer told local reporters, “a lot can happen in six years.”

Then there’s the matter of Trump’s recent track record here. Despite the success of the Taj Mahal and Trump Marina, his last three development proposals haven’t worked out. They include expansions at the Taj Mahal and Trump Marina, neither of which happened; and a gaming yacht at Trump Marina that has yet to set sail.

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