The Meruelo Group of Downey, Calif., plans to close the...

The Meruelo Group of Downey, Calif., plans to close the deal on Trump Plaza, above, by May 31. Credit: Getty Images, 2007

Trump Plaza, the Boardwalk centerpiece of Donald Trump's one-time Atlantic City empire, was sold Thursday to a California company for the bargain-basement sum of $20 million.

The Meruelo Group of Downey, Calif., plans to close the deal by May 31. It is the lowest price ever paid for a casino in Atlantic City.

The company has not decided on a new name for the casino-resort but said it will not use the Trump name.

The Meruelo Group, which is in construction, engineering, real estate, food service and private equity, also owns the Grand Sierra Resort and casino in Reno, Nev.

"Trump Plaza is one of the world's most recognized gaming resort destinations and is an integral part of the Atlantic City landscape," said Alex Meruelo, founder and CEO of the Meruelo Group. "Our company is thrilled to have the opportunity to become the new owners of this property, and we are firmly committed toward establishing it as one of the elite destinations in Atlantic City and on the East Coast."

Robert Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, said the deal shows the Atlantic City market is still attractive to investors, given the right price.

Xavier Gutierrez, chief investment officer for The Meruelo Group, said the company plans to make a sizable investment into the property but could not yet predict what staffing levels would be.

Trump Plaza, which cost $210 million to build, opened in May 1984 as one of Donald Trump's pet projects. The real estate mogul has since limited his dealings in Atlantic City to a 10 percent stake in Trump Entertainment Resorts.

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