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February 09, 2016

Atlantic City's Steel Pier hopes to avoid repo man

Financing firm has threatened to seize Jersey Shore town's amusement rides being used as collateral for loan

Finances Steel Pier
Atlantic City Steel Pier Wayne Parry/AP

Steel Pier has entered into mediation in hopes of staving off the repossession of $1.5 million in amusement rides.

Just imagine how many repo men it would take to reclaim three giant amusement rides – a roller coaster, a bungee ride and a Ferris wheel – at Atlantic City's Steel Pier.

A financing firm threatened the Steel Pier with just that last fall, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

But now the creditors are working with Pier President Anthony Catanoso and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to restructure the $1.5 million debt, secured by the collateral of the three rides.

Catanoso told The Press that, as part of the mediation, the CRDA is considering paying off the debt and assuming Firestone Financial's rights under the loan deal.

The public agency is already a creditor of the pier. The CRDA had already loaned the amusement park about $10 million.

That money was meant to put in place an observation wheel as a draw for the struggling resort town.

The authority agreed to be repaid with revenue generated from rides — the same rides Firestone is trying to repossess.

Meanwhile, parts of the wheel are in storage while Catanoso tries to put together the funds to pay for assembling it.

A mainstay of the city’s skyline, Steel Pier opened in 1898.

It closed in 1978 and then fires destroyed it in 1982. The rebuilt pier reopened in 1992.

The Catanoso family leased the pier from Trump Entertainment Group for years before eventually buying the pier in 2011 for $4.25 million.

The operators plan to reopen March 26 for the 2016 season.

For the complete story in The Press, click here.