The low-profile Downey company that is buying the aging landmark Trump Plaza hotel and casino in Atlantic City, N.J., for a bargain-basement $20 million is scrambling to improve the place and obtain a gaming license in time for the warm-weather tourist season, a company executive said.
The Meruelo Group, which got its start selling pizzas in Latino neighborhoods in Southern California, has expanded into numerous businesses, including construction, engineering, real estate and private equity. Now it intends to become a player in the gaming industry, President Xavier Gutierrez said.
The acquisition of Trump Plaza was announced last week and is expected to close in May.
Meruelo Group already owns the Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno, which has helped prepare the company to take on the challenge of restoring Trump Plaza’s luster, Gutierrez said.
Long-term improvements could cost $100 million. Changes might include connecting the property to a nearby open-air outlet mall and giving it an Asian-theme makeover.