|Copyright 2014, The Associated Press|
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A bank is foreclosing on the power plant at the center of a dispute that has helped keep Atlantic City's former Revel casino shut.
Bank of New York Mellon has begun foreclosure proceedings against ACR Energy Partners, the sole source of utilities for the casino, which closed Sept. 2, 2014.
ACR and Revel owner Glenn Straub have been unable to agree on a deal to provide utility service for the building.
Under an emergency order from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, ACR is providing enough electricity to power fire safety systems at Revel. But the bank says Straub has fallen $800,000 behind on those payments.
Guy Amoresano, an attorney for the bank, said in a court filing that Straub's Polo North Country Club is in "flagrant contempt" of a June court order mandating payments for the utility service ordered by the state.
"Polo North's modus operandi is that it wants that which belongs to others, and does not want to pay for it," he wrote.
ACR says it has offered to provide heat for the winter to Revel to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting if both sides can agree on a price. The company says it believes Straub has hired a contractor to connect boilers into utility equipment owned by ACR, which the company fears could damage the equipment.
Straub has said repeatedly he won't be forced into dealing with ACR and will seek alternate utility service for Revel. His lawyer, Stuart Moskovitz, called the alleged $800,000 debt "a mythical figure for which they have not provided adequate backup despite numerous requests to do so."
"They want Glenn to pay this amount without proving it is actually owed," he said. "It also, frankly, seems unrealistically high all things considered."
Straub bought Revel, which cost $2.4 billion to build, out of bankruptcy court on April 7 for $82 million. Two days later, ACR cut off utility service to the building in the absence of a contract to provide future service.
But city officials began fining Straub for not keeping fire detection and suppression systems energized, and the state Department of Community Affairs ordered ACR to keep providing power to the complex to prevent a catastrophic fire or a plane from crashing into a darkened tower.
The city also began fining Straub $1,000 a day earlier this month for failing to have competent engineers oversee the building's alarms and other emergency equipment.
Straub has considered more than a half dozen potential uses for Revel, including an indoor water park, a medical-tourism resort, and a so-called "genius academy" in which the world's best minds would gather to address the planet's most pressing problems.
But litigation with the power plant and former business tenants at Revel who want their leases honored have prevented him from reopening the building.