Stockton University, having rolled snake eyes in its attempt to convert a former casino into a satellite campus, is playing a new card.
The university got preliminary approval Tuesday from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for $17 million to be used for its proposed new campus in another part of Atlantic City. A final vote on the grant is set for Jan. 19.
The project is in the design phase and needs key financing and other approvals before it can be built. It has a fall 2018 projected opening date.
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Stockton president Harvey Kesselman said the university is lining up partnerships, financing and approvals. He called Tuesday's preliminary approval "a very encouraging step."
"Stockton intends to be part of Atlantic City's renaissance, and we believe it is in the best interests of our students to expand educational options and opportunities in the region," he said.
The university appears to have much smoother sailing ahead of it than in its previous attempt to establish a facility at the former Showboat casino, which it bought from Caesars Entertainment in December 2014. That effort was scuttled by conflicting legal restrictions on how the property can be used, and the university then sold it to Revel casino owner Glenn Straub. But that deal, too, fell through.
Stockton now plans to sell the Showboat to Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein on Jan. 15. He has not revealed his plans for the property, including whether he will seek to reopen it as a casino.
The Stockton project will be developed under an entity called Island Campus Redevelopment Associates Urban Renewal LLC, which includes the Atlantic City Development Corporation, the New Brunswick Development Corporation and the university.
The project is envisioned as a public-private partnership and would include a new corporate headquarters for South Jersey Gas, which would locate its center atop a new 885-space parking garage to be built for the Stockton development.
The residence hall would provide housing for 500 students.
The Stockton portion of the plan is estimated to cost $125 million, with the gas company portion costing an additional $44 million, the CRDA said.
It would be located at the north end of the city a few blocks from the former Atlantic Club casino, on the grounds of the former Atlantic City High School. It would include 9,000 square feet of retail space on the city's Boardwalk and 7,500 square feet on Atlantic Avenue. There also is room for the facility to expand in the future if needed.