The drama that has enveloped Stockton University since the December 13, 2014 purchase of the shuttered Showboat Atlantic City hotel and casino for $18 million, seems to have finally come to an end. The University announced on Friday that the $23 million sale to Showboat Renaissance, LLC has been completed, and it will now advance new plans for construction of a satellite campus at the north end of the city just blocks from the former Showboat.
The former Showboat was purchased by the university in hopes of turning the site into a private hotel and satellite campus but a deed restriction placed on the property by owner Caesars Entertainment, which directly conflicts with a 1988 land covenant between Taj Mahal owner Trump Entertainment Resorts and the Showboat, mandated the property remain a casino. That doomed the original sale and was likely the catalyst for Stockton’s president Herman Saatkamp’s April medical leave and eventual retirement announcement.
The university, located in Galloway Township in Atlantic County, New Jersey, received preliminary approval on January 5 from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority enabling it to use $17 million for another proposed residential campus. An additional $18 million would be contributed by Stockton toward the development. According to the university’s press release, a final vote on the grant is scheduled for January 19. An opening date is projected for the fall of 2018 for the project still in the design phase. Key financing and various approvals need to be satisfied before it can be built.
In a news release from the university (pdf) it is “lining up financial support for a planned residential campus bounded by the Boardwalk and Atlantic, Albany, Trenton and Ventnor avenues, on the site of the former Atlantic City High School. The public-private development by the non-profit Atlantic City Development Corp. (AC Devco) would include a 56,000-square-foot academic building with on-site parking and residential housing for 500 students.” The release also noted that “Construction will begin this spring on a 37,720 square foot new classroom building and a 58,210 square foot expansion of the Unified Science Center.”
On Friday Stockton said it received an extra $1 million from the new owner, Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein, for agreeing to a two month delay of the sale. The university’s president, Harvey Kesselman said that the school plans to work with Blatstein “in ways that will contribute to the renaissance of Atlantic City.” He also said that the sale agreement will provide internships for Stockton students, although the kinds of internships that will be available were not specified. The property’s new owner has yet to reveal his plans for the former Showboat property. The original conflict regarding the use of the property has yet to be resolved.