Stockton U. to sell Showboat to developer Bart Blatstein for $22 million

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Stockton University announced Friday that it has struck a deal to sell the Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City to Philadelphia real estate developer Bart Blatstein for $22 million.

Stockton bought Showboat for $18 million in December with hopes of turning the aging building into an Atlantic City campus, but was stymied by land-use restrictions that may require the 1.73 million-square-foot property to be used as a casino.

“We were seeking a purchaser who demonstrated a commitment to Atlantic City when others were unwilling. Bart Blatstein is such an individual,” said Stockton’s interim president Harvey Kesselman.

A relative newcomer to Atlantic City, Blatstein opened a complex of bars, restaurants, shops, and music venues, The Playground, in June on the site formerly known as The Pier Shops at Caesars.

“Atlantic City is the biggest sleeper I’ve ever seen in my almost 40-year career,” he said. “It’s a remarkable opportunity to be part of the rebirth of a once-great city.”

Blatstein would not disclose his plans for the former Showboat site, but seemed undeterred by Atlantic City’s financial troubles as he vowed to continue investing in the city.

“If I wasn’t happy, I wouldn’t be buying more. So I’m buying all I can get my hands on.”

The deal permits Stockton to use Showboat’s entertainment venues for performances and allows Blatstein to use the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club for hotel guests when Showboat is booked solid.

Showboat shut its doors in August 2014. The Atlantic Club, Revel, and Trump Plaza also closed down last year, dropping Atlantic City’s casino stock from 12 to eight gambling halls in a matter of months.

A report released earlier this week placed some of the blame for the botched Showboat purchase on former Stockton president Herman Saatkamp, who said an outside law firm hired to help with the deal did not disclose information about the land-use restrictions.

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