Showboat Hotel’s $100M Waterpark Rocked by Unpaid Debts and Lawsuits

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Squabbles have erupted around Showboat Hotel’s splashy $100 million waterpark on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Its owner, Bart Blatstein—known for his extensive real estate dealings in Philadelphia—is embroiled in hot water, reportedly owing millions of dollars to construction firms and contractors who worked on the elaborate project.

The gemstone amidst Blatstein’s Atlantic City treasures, the Showboat Hotel, is now subject to controversy. The Island Waterpark, a family-friendly haven, stands accused of unpaid dues to construction firms that shaped it. The troubling ripple effect has led to a multitude of liens and a lawsuit demanding that a state judge place the facility under receivership.

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At the center of the whirlwind is Blatstein’s construction company, Accelerated Construction. A lawsuit lodged by Parker Interior Plantscape, Inc., a New Jersey-based organization, alleges they are owed $1.8 million for the landscape and irrigation work they carried out at the waterpark. The lawsuit, which calls for the waterpark to be taken into receivership, comes on the back of claims that Accelerated Construction has run into insolvency and found itself unable to settle debts. An accurate reflection of their fiscal challenges, the company is contending with a substantial number of unpaid claims directed from Parker Interior and various creditors. The Atlantic County Superior Court has a hearing lodged for the matter, set to convene on July 5th.

Parker Interior Plantscape stands as the lone company seeking receivership to recoup the money owing for their work at the Island Waterpark. Nonetheless, the accusations of poor contract fulfillment by Accelerated Construction are not singular. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that an estimated eight subcontractors have lodged liens against the construction company over unpaid claims, allegedly totaling around $7 million.

Undeterred by controversy, Blatstein redirected his initial plan of reinstating gaming at the resort to introducing an additional family-friendly facet to Atlantic City’s entertainment scene. A deed restriction by Caesars Entertainment in 2014, in light of the closure of the Showboat Hotel & Casino, practically tied Blatstein’s hands from reviving its gaming facet. Instead, in 2018 and 2019, Blatstein successfully subdivided the Showboat property into five new lots and received preliminary suitability approval to possess a gaming concession from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Indeed, Island Waterpark was Blatstein’s big bet that Atlantic City could offer more to families than just a plethora of gaming options, but it appears the gamble may have backfired. Announced with a grand declaration of transforming Atlantic City from merely a casino town to a more inclusive family-friendly beach resort, the waterpark opened to high expectations on July 4, 2023.

Sadly, the tide seems to have turned unfavorable for the ambitious attraction in its first year. Due to underwhelming visitor numbers, Island Waterpark announced last fall that it would be scaling back its operating hours and also reduced ticket rates that many guests found exorbitant. The original $89 adult entry price was sliced to a more wallet-friendly $49 over the winter and spring, with prices bouncing back to $69 for the summer season. As things stand, keeping up a 3.8/5-star rating on nearly 900 reviews on Google, the Island Waterpark could be facing some daunting waves ahead.