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ATLANTIC CITY-Late last week, hotel and local officials held a topping-off ceremony for the Tropicana’s $245 million, 33-story expansion project which, when completed, will give the title of Northeast’s biggest hotel to the sprawling property. The Borgata, which opened here just last July, currently holds the title with its 2,002 rooms, a number that will be surpassed by the Trop’s 2,127.

In an expansion project that has been underway since last year (see earlier stories), Tropicana owner Aztar Corp. is adding a total of 502 guest rooms on 19 of those 33 floors. In its unusual configuration, the new tower will begin with a bottom three floors of retail and one of meeting rooms, overlaid by 10 levels of parking, which will be overlaid by the guest room floors. A skywalk over the intersection of Brighton and Pacific avenues will link it to the existing Tropicana Casino Hotel. Completion is scheduled for next April.

The retail component, which will be called the Quarter and carry a Latin theme, will include a total of 40 upscale shops and restaurants. While declining to name names, hotel officials say they are actively negotiating with a number of retailers and expect to announce some signings by the middle of next month.

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