Sometime soon Judge Julio Mendez, of New Jersey’s Superior Court, will decide whether a 67-year-old piano tuner named Charlie Birnbaum gets to keep his house.
New Jersey’s mighty Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has invoked eminent domain to take the Birnbaum property. The modest Atlantic City “three-flat” is on Oriental Avenue, a name readers will know from the board game Monopoly. But the Birnbaum home sits in the shadow of a big new mega-casino far too recent to be represented on any board game: the Revel. CRDA has claimed the Birnbaum house not for any specific purpose but just so that its land will be available for any future plans that CRDA or its business partners, which include Revel and other casinos, might dream up.