Former CEO Exec Paul Fireman Is Planning a $4.6 Billion Casino for Jersey City
Paul Fireman, the former CEO of Reebok International, wants to build a $4.6 billion casino in Jersey City. To make his ambitions possible, Fireman has begun a public relations campaign to get the voters of New Jersey to approve a November referendum for an expansion of casino gambling to North Jersey.
Last week, Fireman bankrolled the beginning of an ad campaign (“Our Turn NJ”) to convince New Jersey voters to approve the measure. If so, then Paul Fireman might get his dream of a casino south of Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
Paul Fireman’s Achievements
Paul Fireman owns the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City. The golf course opened in 2006 and is posh enough that it has drawn Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to play there. The 72-year old Fireman is not a native New Jerseyan. He lives in Palm Beach and is a native of Massachusetts, but Fireman believes his business interests in North Jersey make him an ideal recipient of a Jersey City casino license.
To help promote his proposed development, Paul Fireman held a press conference. During the question and answer session, Fireman said the efforts to squelch the North Jersey plan are misguided. Those against the proposal want to maintain Atlantic City’s 40-year old casino monopoly. They say moving gambling out of Atlantic City is going to be the death knell of that city’s economic life, which is already on state-controlled life support at the moment.
Paul Fireman’s development would be a $4.6 billion, according to the New York Times. (Other publications say it is $3 billion.) Liberty Rising would be a two-tower complex with 500 gaming tables and 6,000 slot machines. The complex also would have the world’s largest Ferris Wheel and a 107,500-seat stadium for motorsports. One of the towers would be as tall as the 1 World Trade Center, which is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said he has been discussing the project with Fireman for eight months. In Mayor Fulop’s opinion, a grand plan is needed.
Fulop said, “You’ve got to think big. The opportunity to have a world-class facility on the waterfront is significant from a job-creation standpoint, for tax relief, and for tourism. Paul Fireman is capable of executing something like this.”
Whether Paul Fireman is ever going to have a chance to executive that plan is another question. The North Jersey referendum would approve 2 North Jersey casinos, but Atlantic City casino license holders would have the inside track to licensing. If two Atlantic City operators did not step forward within 6 months with $1 billion (minimum) proposals, then outside developers could apply for licensing.
Transform Jersey City’s Skyline
The former Reebok leader is undaunted. Fireman says his plan is going to transform Jersey City’s skyline, as well as city life in the North Jersey municipality. He said, “It’s going to be an icon. This thing’s going to stand out like a beacon of energy.”
Mayor Fulop believes in the vision. He said, “It [Liberty Rising] would be the highest-grossing casino in the United States — we’re targeting the New York market.”
Manhattan Appraiser Disagrees
Not everyone believes. Jonathan Miller, head of the Manhattan appraisal firm, Miller Samuel, says he does not see the potential. When asked about his appraisal, Millar said, “Not to criticize Jersey City, but it’s tough to create a luxury residential product outside of a hub like Manhattan. The trophy market isn’t simply about building something big and sticking it somewhere.”
“I don’t understand this location, even if the views are spectacular. It’s align with things that don’t go together with high-end apartments, like motor cross.”
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