Stockton College finalizes purchase of former Showboat Casino in Atlantic City

Government And Institutions Associated Press

A southern New Jersey college finalized its purchase of the former Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City on Friday.

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Richard Stockton College of New Jersey paid $18 million for the former casino, which closed Aug. 31. It will use the Boardwalk property as a college campus, but also intends to operate an open-to-the-public hotel there with at least 479 rooms.

"Our roots officially began at the former Mayflower Hotel in Atlantic City, and as our campus has expanded, so has our mission to provide higher education, research and community partnerships that enhance the region and state," said Herman Saatkamp, the college's president. "As Stockton develops a full-service residential campus awarding undergraduate and graduate degrees and other professional training, the opportunities for city residents to find good jobs will rise."

Stockton, located in nearby Galloway Township in the Atlantic City suburbs, has long wanted to expand into the city.

Caesars Entertainment closed the still-profitable Showboat to help pay down its massive debt, and to reduce competition for its remaining three Atlantic City casinos. It was one of four Atlantic City casinos to go out of business this year.

The money comes from Stockton's endowment fund. The college says no state funds were used, no new debt was issued and tuition will not rise as a result of the purchase.

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Saatkamp said buying the former casino site and using it as a campus is much cheaper than building from scratch. A housing center at Stockton's main campus recently cost $48 million to build.

The Showboat complex will be used for 852 rooms of student housing, and the campus also will include dining, parking and recreational facilities. The facility eventually may offer student services including admissions, advising, bursar, career counseling, financial aid, registrar and residential life staff. What used to be the casino floor will be used for academic, administrative and community purposes.

To be called Stockton's Island Campus, the site will allow the college to establish a new Stockton Center, a central location for existing centers such as the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute for Gaming Hospitality and Tourism, the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, the Stockton Center for Community Schools, and other programs.

Stockton expects to have the hotel portion of the Island Campus operating by late spring 2015, with some summer session classes to follow. Full academic programs are expected to begin in fall 2015.

The public hotel operation may be operated by Dolce Hotels and Resorts, which operates Stockton Seaview hotel and golf club in Galloway.

The hotel, retail and food service sections of the Stockton-Island Campus will be subject to state and local taxes. Stockton will negotiate a payment in lieu of taxes to Atlantic City for the parts of the property used for college operations.

Stockton currently has 8,570 undergraduate and graduate students.

Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC