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ATLANTIC CITY-The trend of expansions to this gaming mecca’s hotel/casino properties continues. Officials of Harrah’s Atlantic City say they expect to start construction by the end of this summer on a major project that will cost nearly $460 million. The announcement follows closely on the heels of the closing of the acquisition of rival Caesars Entertainment by parent Harrah’s Inc.

According to plans revealed before the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the expansion will entail a new 37-story, 800-room hotel tower adjacent to the property’s existing Bayview Tower. The expansion will boost the property’s total room and suite count to more than 2,400. It will also mark the third time that rooms have been added to the property, with the previous expansions coming in 1996 and 2002.

According to Michael Walsh, Harrah’s project manager, the expansion will also include 900 parking spaces and a two-story structure linking the new tower with the Bayview Tower, an addition that will have a total of about 250,000 sf of retail, entertainment, spa and restaurant space. It will also include water features, such as a 32,000-sf pool. “Even in the middle of winter, it will create a sense of tropical getaway,” Walsh told CRDA members during the presentation.

With the presentation, CRDA signed off on a plan to create a new entertainment-retail district encompassing the expansion, which makes the project eligible for a number of tax incentives. Among them are a rebate relating to the cost of construction materials, plus up to $2.5 million in retail sales and services rebates and a rebate relating to hotel room use fees. The rival Borgata Hotel/Casino, located nearby in this city’s Marina District, got approval late last year for a similar package for its own $560-million expansion.

The one remaining barrier to the expansion is final approval of the site plan itself by CRDA, which observers consider to be a formality given its approval of the incentive program. CRDA officials were told that the project will generate more than 750 construction jobs and some 800 permanent jobs after the expansion is opened. According to Walsh, “this expansion is necessary as we try to compete with the other expansion projects in Atlantic City, as well as new gaming businesses opening throughout the region.”

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