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Steel Pier renovation, a blending of old and new features, to cost $100 million

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Source: Press of Atlantic City

Steel Pier renovation, a blending of old and new features, to cost $100 million

Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2012 9:55 pm | Updated: 7:59 am, Fri Feb 3, 2012.



An artist's conception of Phase One of the Steel Pier renovation project.




By DONALD WITTKOWSKI, Staff Writer pressofAtlanticCity.com | 0 comments


ATLANTIC CITY - Steel Pier, one of the Boardwalk's most storied landmarks, will become a year-round attraction as part of a $100 million makeover that will create new amusement rides and resurrect one famous older-style act - the diving horse.


The multiyear renovation project is being done by a new ownership group, including the Catanoso family that operated the pier under lease for 20 years and acclaimed Las Vegas architect Paul Steelman. The investors began exploring ways to revitalize the fading pier after buying it last August for $4.25 million from casino operator Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc.


"We hope to make it a showplace again. We want to make it a major destination," said Anthony Catanoso, of Steel Pier Associates. "We're really excited about bringing back some of the old architecture and iconic features, along with new rides. We have what we believe is the perfect balance between the old and new."


With Steelman in charge of designs, the owners plan to blend some of the pier's historic flourishes that resonate with aging baby boomers with all-new attractions appealing to a younger generation of customers.


This summer will see the return of the legendary diving horse act, one of the pier's centerpieces in years past. A horse will plunge into a 12-foot tank of water from a platform 30 or 40 feet up while spectators watch from an amphitheater at the ocean end of the pier, Catanoso said.


About $20 million in pier improvements planned for this year include new amusement rides, arcade games, food and beverage outlets and party areas. In addition, new lighting, signs and a fresh paint job will spruce up Steel Pier's main entryway. The cleanup will include the enclosed skybridge that connects the pier to Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort above the Boardwalk.


"There will be a new look, a new feel. It will be a complete cleanup of the infrastructure," Catanoso explained.


Those upgrades will be followed in the next three years by a more extensive overhaul, done in three phases, that will turn the now-seasonal pier into a year-round entertainment complex.


In 2013, as part of the first phase, thrillseekers will be tantalized by a new roller-coaster and a combination watchtower and carousel-style ride, called the Star Flyer, that will soar 385 feet into the air, Catanoso said.


"The Star Flyer will be the largest of its type in the world," he said.


An expansion project that includes a new building will complement the new rides in 2013. A new food court and arcade area will be tucked inside the building, allowing them to operate year-round.


Also planned for 2013 is a new nightclub that will operate in the skybridge above the Boardwalk. The Steel Pier investment group also bought the bridge from Trump Entertainment last year.


The second phase of the renovation project, set for 2014, will see more of the pier's attractions and rides covered up as the amusement park continues to evolve into a year-round complex. This phase includes plans for a new museum, retail-entertainment space and a Ferris wheel that would tower 250 feet high. Some of the 42 gondolas on the Ferris wheel would include plusher, climate-controlled "VIP" enclosures that will seat up to eight people and accommodate special events, such as weddings.


The third and final phase of renovation stretches into 2015. At that time, the owners plan to re-create the famed Marine Ballroom. The old ballroom hosted Steel Pier's concerts and big-name performers - Frank Sinatra, 1950s heartthrob Ricky Nelson and the Rolling Stones, among them - before it was leveled by a 1969 fire.


The new version of the ballroom will have 2,000 seats and a stage. The seats will be movable, allowing the ballroom to alternately serve as a dance hall, concert arena, wedding chapel and corporate events center.


"We think it will be the hottest wedding destination on the Eastern Seaboard," Catanoso said. "You won't have views anywhere else like it."


The original Steel Pier, dating to 1898, was a wooden structure that jutted much farther out into the ocean than today's nearly 1,000-foot amusement park. In the pier's heyday in the early and mid-1900s, huge crowds were drawn by vaudeville acts, headliners, concerts, movies and animal oddities such as the diving horse.


The 1969 fire shortened its length by about a third. The pier burned again in a 1982 fire. Under a lease with the Catanosos, it reopened in 1992 as an amusement park atop a flat concrete structure.


The pier owners are discussing a $6 million loan from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the state agency that oversees the city's new Tourism District. Catanoso said an application is being made for the CRDA funds.


The CRDA loan will help leverage private financing that the owners plan to obtain to renovate the pier, Catanoso said. The pier project was granted preliminary approval Wednesday, after the CRDA board also approved a new master plan that guides development in the Tourism District.


"It gave confidence for the project to move forward," CRDA Chairman James B. Kehoe noted of the pier's preliminary approval.


Approval of the pier's CRDA loan is expected at the authority's Feb. 21 board meeting, Kehoe said. He added that Steel Pier is the type of project envisioned in the new master plan to broaden Atlantic City's appeal as a tourist destination.


"I think it's a great first step of a component that will give you something to do, when you're in Atlantic City, that is not casino gambling or shopping," he said. "I think it can be very helpful to that part of the Boardwalk. It can bring different people into town who are not coming now."

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Wow, a 385' Star Flyer in 2013...yikes that's tall! This is another one of of those projects that sounds great on paper, but until it actually happens I won't hold my breath. Just like the previous reincarnation of the pier as "Six Flags Over Trump's Steel Pier" which never happened despite all the fanfare.

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I like the idea of part of the pier covered so the rides can run all year. If it happens it will be nice to be able to ride a coaster during the offseason. I really miss Tivoli Pier from Tropicana even though the coaster wasn't that great, it was better than nothing.

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I like the idea of part of the pier covered so the rides can run all year. If it happens it will be nice to be able to ride a coaster during the offseason. I really miss Tivoli Pier from Tropicana even though the coaster wasn't that great, it was better than nothing.



I remember hearing that the Catanaso (probably spelled wrong) brothers own that coaster and have tried to move it to the pier. It makes me wonder about that "new coaster".

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  • 2 weeks later...

Source: The Associated Press


NJ Steel Pier drops plan for Diving Horse's return

By WAYNE PARRY | Associated Press13 hrs ago


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The Diving Horse has finally been put out to pasture for good. The owner of Atlantic City's Steel Pier says he's dropping a plan to bring back the legendary attraction, which featured a horse and a rider plunging into a 12-foot-deep water tank from a platform 40 feet in the air, after animal-welfare activists lodged fierce criticism. The act ran on the pier from the 1920s to the 1970s.


Anthony Catanoso, whose family owns the historic pier, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he's no longer interested in reviving something that helped make the pier world famous in the last century.


"We just felt that since Atlantic City is moving forward, we should move forward with it," he said. "We should create new memories for visitors instead of recreating old ones."


Catanoso revived the act once before, in 1993, but shut it down after two months following similar protests from animal-welfare activists.


He had envisioned the Diving Horse as the centerpiece of a refurbished Steel Pier, part of an overall makeover of the gambling resort being planned by local and state officials. He downplayed the significance of public opposition in the latest decision to pull the plug on the Diving Horse but acknowledged that the protests did take their toll.


"That negativity — we didn't want that to interfere with the positive things we're trying to do," he said.


Roseann Trezza, executive director of the Associated Humane Societies in New Jersey, said she was delighted with the change in plans.


"You have people trying to make a buck off the backs of animals, and it's really cruel exploitation," she said. "Everybody worked together against that, and I am so happy to see that happen."


Catanoso proposed reviving the act earlier this month when a massive redevelopment plan for Atlantic City's Boardwalk, casino district and shopping areas was unveiled. But within days, animal-welfare activists were voicing opposition.


The Humane Society of the United States said its members "emphatically oppose equine diving acts."


"This is a merciful end to a colossally stupid idea," society president Wayne Pacelle said. "We are pleased so many citizens spoke up and urged that this spectacle never get off the ground. Horse diving has the potential to frighten and injure and kill horses, and it rightly belongs in Atlantic City's history books."


A petition against the act on the website change.org garnered 10,000 signatures in one day.


Catanoso said he extensively researched the act, including speaking with past performers. In a press release announcing his intention to bring back the act earlier this month, he determined that no horse was ever harmed.


"Through this research, we determined there was no animal cruelty or abuse that occurred in the past," he wrote. "The new act will be humane, provide the horses first class care, operate under modern safety standards to protect both the riders and the horses and will not subject the horses to cruelty. We understand and share the community's concern regarding the inhumane treatment of animals. For the past 20 years, we have been dedicated to providing wholesome family entertainment in Atlantic City. We are committed to that goal and would never feature any act that would mistreat an animal."


Protesters had been trying to organize a demonstration at the next meeting of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to protest the inclusion of the Diving Horse in a redevelopment plan for Atlantic City, the nation's second-biggest gambling market after Las Vegas.


Although the Diving Horse was the most attention-getting aspect, the Steel Pier is undergoing a $100 million renovation that will take 3 1/2 years and will make it a year-round attraction. Some work is already under way. This summer, there will be six new rides, several new games, beer gardens, new food and beverage kiosks and a resurfacing of the pier floor.




Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

Edited by Up_Up_and_Away
PROPER FORMATTING. From the time this site began, we have demonstrated MANY times how to properly display a news story. In other words, don't just throw up a link.
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  • 1 month later...

Wow! A 385-foot Star Flyer is planned. I wonder what role the ocean winds will play on the ride's uptime.


Source: Los Angles Times


Steel Pier expansion moves forward minus diving horse act


By Brady MacDonald Los Angeles Times Staff Writer April 12, 2012, 5:30 a.m.


The once-famed Steel Pier on the long-faded Atlantic City Boardwalk will invest more than $100 million on new amusement rides and entertainment venues after scrapping plans to revive its centerpiece diving horse act amid an outcry by animal rights activists.


PHOTOS: New rides at Steel Pier in Atlantic City


Located across from Donald Trump's Taj Mahal casino on the New Jersey shore, the 1,000-foot-long amusement pier will add 11 rides, an arcade, nightclub, museum and ballroom during a four-year expansion project. The plan calls for two-thirds of the rides to be covered, allowing the pier to stay open 300 days per year.


A 2,000-seat multipurpose venue for concerts and stage shows will be modeled after the pier's old Marine Ballroom, which once hosted acts ranging from Frank Sinatra to the Rolling Stones.


Heated criticism by animal rights activists forced Steel Pier officials to drop plans to reintroduce the iconic-yet-controversial diving horse act, which involved a horse leaping from a 40-foot-tall platform into a 12-foot-deep pool. The act ran on the pier from the 1920s to the 1970s and again briefly in 1993, shutting down both times amid vociferous opposition.


The key additions in the multi-phase expansion:


> A 385-foot-tall Funtime Star Flyer in 2013, dubbed the tallest swing tower in the world. Six Flags recently installed Star Flyers at several parks under the name SkyScreamer, including a 242-foot-tall version at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. The 384-foot-tall Vienna Star Flyer holds the current height record.


> An Intamin ZacSpin roller coaster by 2014, similar to Green Lantern: First Flight recently installed at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. The fourth-dimension ZacSpin features cars that rotate forward and backward on a vertical zigzag track that sits on a compact footprint.


> A 250-foot-tall Ferris wheel with 42 enclosed gondolas and an LED lighting package in 2015. The Steel Pier attraction would top the tallest Ferris wheel in the U.S. (the 212-foot Texas Star in Dallas) but fall short of the 286-foot Pepsi Globe proposed for the American Dream mall at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.


On May 12, Steel Pier will add the following rides as part of the initial expansion phase:


> A 130-foot-tall Fabbri Booster spinning centrifuge arm called Fuze.


> A Frisbee-style pendulum swing ride by SBF called Freedom Flyer.


> The Water Circus swing carousel built by Bertazzon.


> A SBF Airborne Shot ride called Seamour that allows riders to control the fly-out feature on the arms of the spinning thrill ride.


> A miniature version of Zamperla's Rockin' Tug halfpipe ride.


> A SBF tea cup ride called Sugar Sugar.


> A SBF Air Show giant swing ride.


> The Beach Buggies car ride by Zamperla.


Opened in 1898, the original Steel Pier was known as the "Showplace of the Nation" and "The World's Playground" during its heyday when visitors were entertained by water-skiing dogs, bike-riding bears, fortune-telling parakeets and high-diving horses.


After rebuilding following storm damage in 1904 and a devastating fire in 1969, Steel Pier closed in 1976 following the long, slow decline of Atlantic City. After another fire in the 1980s, Steel Pier reopened in 1993 with 14 rides and midway games.

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