delphia’s Northern Liberties area, it was
a crime-ridden neighborhood badly in
need of change. “It was desolate and dan-
gerous,” says Blatstein, “way worse than
Homes were going for an average of
$20,000 at that time. In 2000, Tower Investments bought the former Schmidt’s
Brewery at a municipal auction. Reborn
with a mix of residential and commercial
space, the old brewery became the catalyst for neighborhood transformation.
That transformation has helped drive
up property values, Blatstein says. “Some
houses,” he claims, “are selling for a
million and a half.” The area even has a
trendy nickname: NoLibs.
Tower Investments has also helped
Not everyone is convinced that Blat-
revitalize Philadelphia’s riverfront and
other areas, including North Philadel-
phia—where Temple University (Blat-
stein’s alma mater) is located. Among
other projects, Tower built a 12-story
residential facility for Temple students
and a multiscreen movie theater just off
campus. “I couldn’t get a theater chain
to believe in the location, so I opened it
myself,” says Blatstein. “Everything I
did in Philadelphia people doubted.”
Blatstein, who is married with two
children and two grandchildren, proved
the naysayers wrong—and intends to do
the same in Atlantic City.
stein can do what prior investors—think
Donald Trump—could not achieve.
“Don’t buy the hype,” says Inga Saffron,
who has followed Blatstein’s career as
the architecture critic for the Philadel-
Saffron, who has written “good Bart/
bad Bart” articles, was initially critical
of Blatstein’s NoLibs investments, but
has modified her view. “I really like the
Piazza,” Saffron says, referring to the
mixed-use development at the Schmidt’s
Brewery. “I like the architecture. I like
the project. It’s just not managed well.
It’s good Bart/bad Bart.”
But Blatstein believes a boom lies
When Saffron was informed that Blat-
stein envisions new casinos popping up in
Atlantic City, she was incredulous. “Those
days are over,” Saffron says.
ahead for A.C. “I see cranes,” he says. “I
see a lot of development. For those who
think that this city has too many casinos,
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