Reconsidering this case with a fresh set of eyes…
A New Jersey Superior Court judge who upheld the condemnation of an Atlantic City apartment building owned by Charles Birnbaum last November has reversed himself and is now siding with the elderly piano tuner.
On August 19, Judge Julio Mendez refused to authorize the same eminent domain taking he approved nine months ago, giving the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) 180 days to provide “reasonable assurances” that a casino redevelopment project will actually be built.
“Over the last two years, four casinos have closed, two of them in very close proximity to the south inlet area where the Birnbaum property is located,” Mendez wrote in his latest ruling.
“Reconsidering this case with a fresh set of eyes is the right thing to do at this time.”
“The Court is greatly concerned that as a result of the uncertainty surrounding Atlantic City, if the condemnation is granted, the Birnbaum property could sit idle in a corner of Atlantic City waiting for years for the plan to come to fruition.”
The three-story brick apartment building on Oriental Avenue is a block away from Atlantic City’s famed boardwalk. Birnbaum inherited it from his parents, who were Holocaust survivors. He rents out the top two apartments and uses the ground floor unit for his piano-tuning business.
Birnbaum’s building is located “in the shadow” of the vacant $2.4 billion Revel Casino, whose new owner recently blamed “giant seagulls” for smashing in some exterior windows. The Showboat Casino next door also closed its doors last August.
Birnbaum said that Mendez’ latest order was “just like a miracle for us. It was totally unexpected.”