ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Donald Trump’s name was stripped from the facade weeks after he became president. Now his Indian-inspired architectural flourishes are coming down, too, from one of the Atlantic City casinos he used to own.
Work crews are dismantling the domes, minarets and other exterior decorations from the former Trump Taj Mahal casino. It is being converted into a new Hard Rock casino resort due to open 2018 summer.
Trump once owned three casinos here, but cut most ties with Atlantic City in 2009. Most recently owned by billionaire Carl Icahn, the Taj Mahal shut down in 2016 and was sold to Hard Rock.
Painter James Smith Sr. recalls riding an elevator with Trump and then-wife Ivana as the casino was being built.
“He said, ‘How ya doin’, painter!’ and I said, ’OK, how ‘bout you, Donald?’” recalled Smith, who lives in an apartment complex next-door.
Smith said he’s glad for the new investment in the building, adding “it really needs a new paint job.”
As he spoke, workers in hydraulic lifts labored high in the sky with mechanical saws to cut away at the rounded facade of the dozens of domes that dot the exterior of the building, which Trump opened in 1990. On the lawn in front of the parking garage sat a giant metal letter “T” that had once been part of the Taj Mahal logo affixed to the building. A worker said it’s all destined “for the Dumpster.”
Mick Frantzeskakis, a 72-year-old Atlantic City resident, said he’ll miss the Taj Mahal decor.
“I feel a little bad to see it go,” he said.
In an interview in May, Hard Rock chairman Jim Allen said not a scrap of Indian decor — or the Trump name — will remain when the new casino resort debuts next year.
“It’s everywhere,” Allen said of Trump’s influence on the Indian palace-themed Taj Mahal. “The amount of money we’re going to have to spend to remove all those minarets and all that purple. Jesus! What were we thinking?”