Atlantic City, N.J. is moving forward with the $3.3-billion Renaissance development project for historic Bader Field airport that would include a Formula 1 raceway, hundreds of green-energy condominiums, and commercial space.

First proposed in January 2022, the project being developed by DEEM Enterprises LLC calls for a 2.44-mile Formula 1 track surrounded by hundreds of condominiums built to withstand hurricane-force winds, along with an educational facility, shopping and restaurants and a high-rise hotel.

Located on one of the largest open areas remaining along the east coast, the Bader Field development would be for enthusiasts of high-end sports cars such as Lamborghinis or Ferraris, the developer contends. The racecourse would be used by condo owners but not the public.

The motor course designed by a top motorsport track designer from Spain currently does no't include sound mitigation. The electric-powered race cars would not create enough noise to bother abutters along Albany Avenue in the city's Chelsea neighborhood, said Michael Binder, a spokesperson for DEEM. 

“There won’t be discernable noise from the track," he said. "There’s more noise on Albany Avenue right now.” 

Binder declined to name project investors but said they have money ready to begin development. Construction would take up to nine years, and create 1,200 to 1,500 permanent jobs, he said.

He said a microgrid would provide energy generation and distribution for Renaissance, which also would use hydrogen. A project rendering shows solar panels on condo roofs and other available roof space throughout the design. 

The project would also use a network operations center, allowing IT teams to manage and monitor Renaissance. For instance, Binder said it would turn off lighting when owners leave their condos and turn the power back on upon return. 

Opening in 1910, the the 143-acre Bader Field was among the nation’s first airports and the first municipal facility. The city owns Bader Field, which closed in 2006.

Construction Challenges

The development project is not without challenges. 

Binder said the project requires elevating Bader Fieldwhich is located on a flood zone between the Atlantic Ocean and back bay—to 6 ft at one end and 35 ft at the other. Binder said the US Army Corps of Engineers would dredge surrounding back bays and have spoils used for elevation.

DEEM also needs to clean up an underground plume of old aviation fuel plus fuel from a former public works site at Bader Field and recap it, according to principal Kevin Dixon of Dixon Associates Engineering.

In March, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Jr. signed a memorandum of understanding with the developer, a step that allows site redevelopment to move forward. The Atlantic City Council also passed a resolution approving execution of the memorandum.

As part of the deal, DEEM Enterprises can “do their diligence on the Bader Field site,” the mayor said in a statement issued last month. New Jersey officials, which have oversite of the Atlantic City government, declined comment. The MOU allows the developer time to determine whether it can deliver on the project and, if so, the city and developer would reach an official redevelopment.

Atlantic City stands to earn $115 million as part of the deal, including as much as $15 million toward building a new recreation center for the casino resort.

The MOU also has a clause that will return the land to the city if the project falls through, according to Atlantic City attorney Dan Gallagher who represents DEEM.

The Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce is watching the project closely and has asked for transparency. 

Michael Chait, its president, called the project "critical to the future of Atlantic City," and "the best fit for the destination."