Stockton University hopes with the Showboat sold it can now begin to move forward.
Stockton unloaded the former Showboat Casino building in Atlantic City on Friday by selling it to Bart Blatstein – developer of the Piazza and the redeveloper of the former Pier Shops at Caesar’s – for $23 million.“Stockton is closing this chapter in our history, and moving on to exciting plans for the university’s future,” Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said in a statement.Stockton, under its previous president Herman Saatkamp, bought the Showboat in December 2014 for $18 million, hoping to expand its Atlantic City campus onto the Boardwalk. But the school ran into a roadblock when Trump Taj Mahal next door cited an earlier legal agreement that the property could only be used as a casino. With Showboat in its past Stockton is wasting no time moving forward with plans to expand its main campus in Galloway and in Atlantic City.Stockton is also putting forth a new face for the school. Just as the sale was about to be completed last week it began a nationwide ‘’Vision Tour’’ to promote its campus expansion plans to its alumni. The first event was held on Thursday in Center City Philadelphia. It featured Stockton’s new president, Kesselman, touting Stockton’s expansion plans. Future presentations are planned for Florida, New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.
At Philly’s event, Kesselman touted Stockton’s plan to expand its Unified Science Center on their main Galloway campus and to build more classroom space, which will allow the school to accommodate more students in science, technology, engineering and math.But the school’s bigger plans, arguably, are its aspirations for Atlantic City. Stockton plans to build new classrooms and new dorms for 500 students at the tail end of Albany Avenue, on the site of the old Atlantic City High School. The new facility will take pressures off parking and living space at the Galloway campus, university officials say, and provide more space for the school’s programs already in Atlantic City.The facility will also house the new headquarters for South Jersey Gas, a utilities provider moving from Folsom. The university is getting close to $70 million in tax credits from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for the project.Expanding Stockton’s main campus is difficult since it sits in a pocket of the fiercely protected Pine Barrens, making new building a difficult challenge. The school’s solution, then, lies partly in Atlantic City, where it already has a presence and a history.Stockton’s plan to grow bigger comes at a time other New Jersey colleges have also announced expansion plans. Rowan is expanding in both Glassboro (it’s main campus) and Camden. The main campus is undergoing a $300 million effort to build a new mixed-use downtown filled with student housing and shops that connects to Glassboro’s historic downtown. In Camden, the school plans to open the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in July, 2012, in a partnership with Cooper University Hospital.Rutgers-Camden is also expanding in Camden, hoping to complete their new Nursing and Science Building at 5th and Federal streets in downtown Camden later this year.TCNJ, meanwhile, is building a $120 million mixed-use housing and retail complex on its Ewing campus, which includes new student apartments, restaurants and other stores.