Trump Taj Mahal objections put plan for Showboat college campus in drydock

 Former Showboat casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Former Showboat casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The bankrupt Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City is trying to block a college campus from moving in two blocks away.

In December, Stockton University purchased the shuttered Showboat casino building to develop a satellite campus. But those plans are now in jeopardy.

Not too long ago, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said he was about the Stockton campus. It offered  new life to fallow casino building, promising to bring hundreds of young people to the city — 400 who would live on the campus and another 1,100 commuters.

“So having 400 students in a town that only has 40,000 people to begin with, and having 1,500 students really is going to be a shot in the arm,” he said. “So now, what do you do? So the obvious: We’re could open up a pizzeria, we can open up a coffeeshop, and things like that.”

But Trump Taj Mahal officials say having students not old enough to gamble next to a casino could create problems. “You do not see a college on the Las Vegas strip,” they said in a statement.

They cite a nearly 30-year land covenant stipulating the building can’t be used for anything other than a casino. Caesars Entertainment, which owns the Showboat building, asked for a covenant exception so that Stockton could run a college campus there, but Trump Entertainment refused to accept it. 

Unless the dispute can be worked out, Stockton will be forced to scrap its plans for a campus and try to sell the building.

Meanwhile, according to the Press of Atlantic City, Council President Frank Gilliam intends to move ahead with the building’s redevelopment plan, including rezoning the site to allow a college to operate there. 

“It’s important for Atlantic City to look to diversify,” he told the paper. “I understand casinos have helped us, but they can no longer be the only game in town. The days of the industry deciding what’s good for us is over. We have to be more inclusive and collaborative.”

 

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