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November 04, 2015

Revel owner: Use shuttered A.C. casino to house Syrian refugees

United States must resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year

Amid an ongoing battle over tenancy and maintenance costs at Atlantic City's shuttered Revel Casino, the property's new owner, Florida developer Glenn Straub, has proposed using the 47-story resort to shelter as many as 3,500 refugees from the civil war in Syria.

Straub, who purchased the casino in April for $82 million, told the Associated Press Tuesday that he would welcome Syrian refugees at the Revel while he continues to fight in court over the future of the property.

In an interview with KYW Newsradio, Straub said he has reached out to presidential candidates to make the offer and has received a few responses. His proposal calls for either charities or the government to provide food and other essentials.

“They really just need someplace to put security, which we have I don’t know how many thousands of cameras and security locations, magnetic locks and everything that a casino has that we can keep people that we wouldn’t want to have wandering around in the neighborhoods.”

In September, President Obama increased the number of Syrian refugees for the United States to take in over the next year, raising the total to 10,000 from 2,000 during the previous year. Mayors from 18 cities in the United States signed a letter to the president affirming they will go above and beyond those requirements for resettlement.

Eventually, Straub has said he hopes to repurpose the casino as an indoor water park, a "genius academy" for leadership summits, a medical tourism resort, and an equestrian facility.

Attempts to reopen the casino have been prevented by a legal standoff with remaining business tenants and the utility company ACR Energy, which cut power to the facility and prompted a series of municipal fines for fire safety and equipment violations. Under an emergency order, ACR Energy agreed to provide enough electricity to keep the fire suppressions systems running, but the company was foreclosed upon by The Bank of New York Mellon last month. The bank says Straub is $800,000 behind on electric payments, a claim the owner's attorney denies.

The Revel, which cost $2.4 billion to construct, closed in September 2014 after declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time since it opened in April 2012.