Friday, August 10, 2018

Stockton University Takes Another Bet on Atlantic City

There will soon be one less vacant casino on Atlantic City’s fabled Boardwalk.

In yet another expansion into Atlantic City, Stockton University Wednesday agreed to buy the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, which has been closed since January 2014.

The sale, and Stockton’s continued investment in Atlantic City, is yet one more piece in the comeback of the long-beleaguered gaming destination on the ocean. The Atlantic Club was one of five casinos to shutter its doors in Atlantic City, but now all but one, Trump Plaza, have been revived or found new uses.

The Atlantic Club property, not far from a new campus that Stockton plans to open in Atlantic City at the end of this month, includes roughly nine acres of upland lots, a beach lot with about 11 acres, and a nine-level parking garage that has 550,000 square feet for parking and 50,000 square feet of office space, as well as a 23-story hotel tower. The university's main campus is nearby, in Galloway, N.J.

The board of trustees of Stockton, a public instittution granted university status in 2015, authorized moving forward with a purchase agreement for the former casino site Wednesday afternoon. The price will be disclosed after the closing, which there is no timeline for yet, the university said in a press release.

But the seller, TJM Properties, a real estate and hospitality firm based in Clearwater, FL, will demolish the hotel tower as part of the final agreement, according to the university.

There is very limited growth potential in Galloway due to restrictions regarding development at its location in the South Jersey Pinelands, which is why Stockton is creating campuses in nearby Atlantic City, according to university officials. Stockton is about to open a new campus in Atlantic City, and its planned acquisition is near that facility.

Stockton's new Atlantic City campus, which is to include hospitality-training classes, is located at the intersection of Atlantic, Albany and Pacific Avenues, with apartments for more than 500 students overlooking the beach and Boardwalk. It will also have a parking garage and academic center.

The project is a public/private partnership with Atlantic City Development Corp. (AC DevCo), a non-profit redevelopment company, and South Jersey Gas, which is also building a new headquarters at the site.

There are no immediate plans for construction on the former Atlantic Club land, but the area could provide space for additional academic, residential and retail use by the university, according to the school.

For example, the parking garage and surface lot can accommodate future needs for faculty, staff and students, and the garage has office space Stockton can renovate and use or lease, the school said. Commercial space in the garage may also be renovated and leased, the university added.

"We are buying our future," Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman said in a statement. "And we are trying to make the best investment we can. There is so much excitement around our new campus. We want to be able to provide even more opportunities for New Jersey students to remain in the state to attend college."

Stockton must still complete its review and due diligence on the acquisition, with the trustees approving a $72,500 contract with SOSH Architects to assess the site and submit a report. The final purchase and sale agreement must also still be reviewed by the Office of the State Comptroller.

The university recently sold the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township for $21 million to KDG Capital LLC of Tampa, FL, and that money will go toward the purchase of the TJM property. The school acquired the golf club in 2000 for $20 million from LaSalle Hotel Properties of Bethesda, MD, according to CoStar data.

Stockton has used the golf club and hotel facilities for student housing.


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