An announcement on Friday by Showboat’s current owner Stockton University revealed that Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein will purchase the former casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey for $22 million. The purchase price and subsequent expenses have cost Stockton about $25 million over the course of a year.
The university had plans for the property to be converted into an island campus and privately run hotel, expanding the campus to the Tourism District, when it was purchased from Caesars Entertainment for $18 million, but approval of the sale on Wednesday and expected closing on November 9 effectively ends the ongoing drama and complications endured by the university since acquiring ownership in 2014.
In an interview posted on philly.com, University president Harvey Kesselman said, “We were seeking a purchaser who demonstrated a commitment to Atlantic City when others were unwilling,” and that, “Bart Blatstein is such an individual. The agreement allows the university and Mr. Blatstein to continue working together in ways that will benefit Stockton and contribute to Atlantic City’s renaissance.”
Competing deed restrictions including a 1988 covenant requiring the property be used as a casino-hotel, and the 2014 restriction barring its use as a casino involving Caesars Entertainment and Trump Entertainment Resorts and Caesars respectively, were not discussed by Blatstein, but Stockton is not responsible for resolving either prior to the sale, according to the agreement which also states that any dispute resulting from the sale that cannot be settled is prohibited from a jury trial. Whether Blatstein will reopen the Showboat as a casino or non-gambling property is unknown, but the licenses and permits required for a gambling business are not part of the agreement.
Announcement of the sale comes just days after Stockton University released the 43-page “Independent Review of Stockton University’s Purchase and Proposed Sale of the Showboat in Atlantic City“ an investigative report by the Gibbons law firm designed to examine the entirety of its Showboat Casino purchase in Atlantic City as well as the attempted sale of the property.
Maintenance, security, operations and other costs have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly costs, totaling almost $3 million within the first five months, for Stockton since purchasing the property.
Blatstein was instrumental in redeveloping The Pier Shops at Caesars into “The Playground” a $50 million makeover that opened in June with a concert venue, themed clubs, bars and more.