Re-opening the former Showboat in Atlantic City as a casino is apparently not out of the question, according to new owner Bart Blatstein who in June redeveloped the Boardwalk’s former Pier Shops complex into The Playground.
While that is a consideration for the $23 million acquisition from Stockton University, many non-gambling options exist that the building would be well-suited for, including entertainment uses and office space, said the Philadelphia developer and CEO of Tower Developments. Scheduled for a Monday close, the sale of the property was pushed back until January 15. The delay added a cool $1 million to the former Showboat’s sale, with additional monthly carrying costs of $500,000 in the interim. On Monday that revised sale contract was approved by Stockton’s board of trustees, which will allow Blatstein to be able to take advantage of significant tax advantages.
On Tuesday Blatstein said, “I didn’t realize all the options that were out there. “ He added, “There’s a number of really great possibilities, and I’m weighing them all. Aside from the obvious, which is reopening it as a casino, there’s time shares, office, and entertainment. I’m getting companies wanting to locate office space there,” according to the Associated Press.
As part of the new deal and to cover the costs incurred since September, $1.1 million in an escrow fund will be released to Stockton, with an additional escrow deposit of $1 million, which will either be applied towards the sale, or liquidated damages if for some reason the sale falls through. An affiliate agreement that provides Stockton students with internships in Blatstein’s hotel Hospitality and Tourism Management program will try to be reached by both parties. The agreement also enables the use of the building by Stockton for events up to six times a year.
Believing that it would be released from a covenant requiring the site be used as a casino, Herman Saatkamp, the University of Stockton’s president at the time, purchased the property for $18 million in December 2014. The university had hoped that the property could be converted into a satellite campus, but refusal by Taj Mahal owner Trump Entertainment Resorts to waive the covenant and competing legal claims prevented that from happening. Those issues would have to be resolved if Blatstein decides to re-open the New Jersey property as a casino, which he is confident could happen.
Blatstein said he doesn’t feel pressured into making a decision regarding the use of the Showboat right away.