Stockton University Approves Atlantic Club Purchase, Demolition Expected for Boardwalk Property

Posted on: August 9, 2018, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: August 9, 2018, 02:39h.

The Stockton University board of trustees voted unanimously in favor of giving President Harvey Kesselman the authority to negotiate a deal for the college to acquire the shuttered Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.

Stockton University Atlantic Club campus
Stockton University and President Harvey Kesselman are going on the offensive to buy the Atlantic Club. (Image: Mel Evans/AP/Erin Grugan/Press of Atlantic City/

The closed Boardwalk property has sat vacant since 2014. With the board’s decision, Kesselman can now begin working with TJM Properties in Florida, the casino’s current owners, on buying the building.

“This property will help secure Stockton’s future in Atlantic City,” Kesselman explained following the Wednesday vote. “Stockton is committed to playing a key role in the future of Atlantic City. It is important to the state that Atlantic City is successful and we are a part of that economic engine.”

TJM acquired the Atlantic Club from Caesars in 2014 for $13.5 million. Parts of the building continue to deteriorate, and Stockton’s deal with TJM is expected to include the demolition of the hotel tower.

Terms will be announced once a finalized deal is complete, school officials stated.

Stockton sold its Seaview Resort last week for $21 million. The Hospitality and Tourism Management program has operated the Galloway resort since the school took its ownership in 2010. The sale removes student housing for roughly 250 undergrads.

Stockton plans to use the Seaview money to purchase the Atlantic Club.

Campus Expansion

TJM had no comment regarding the Stockton board vote. But the company has made no secret of its wishes to unload the Atlantic City investment. At least two deals that would have converted the former Caesars casino into a waterpark fell through in recent years with outside developers.

Stockton officials say they’re committed to revitalizing Atlantic City, the town the school first called its home before relocating to its current main campus in Galloway. The university is getting back to its roots by opening its Atlantic City campus next month.

Part of the Gateway Project, the Stockton AC campus is located just two blocks south of Atlantic Club at the intersection of Atlantic, Pacific, and Albany avenues.

Stockton’s first foray in returning to New Jersey’s gambling beach town didn’t go as planned.

The school received much criticism after it purchased, under then-President Herman Saatkamp’s leadership, the closed Showboat for $18 million in late 2014. After acquiring the resort, the school learned that it wouldn’t be able to open the property as a satellite campus with student housing due to a deed restriction.

It took more than a year to find a buyer, and led to Stockton parting ways with Saatkamp.

Atlantic Club History

Steve Wynn opened Atlantic Club as the Golden Nugget in 1980. It became Bally’s Grand Hotel and Casino in 1987 after Wynn sold the property to Bally Manufacturing for $440 million.

After Hilton Hotels acquired Bally’s, the Boardwalk resort became the Atlantic City Hilton. It would undergo further rebrands, the ACH Casino Resort in 2011, and finally, Atlantic Club in 2012, the later that endured until its closure.

Should the Stockton deal go through, the university would obtain 20 acres of property, 11 of which are beachfront. It would reportedly keep the nine-story parking garage, but demolish the 23-story hotel tower to make way for new construction.