For once, Atlantic City has received some good news. On Friday, Richard Stockton College announced that they have completed their purchase of the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City and will begin to transform the former casino into its Atlantic City campus. The school purchased the casino from Caesars Entertainment Corp. for $18 million using funds from the school’s investment fund.
The Press of Atlantic City broke the story on Friday, revealing the property will serve as both a college campus and a hotel. Also, the school hopes that the purchase will help to develop a University Park style neighborhood in the area.
School Hopes to Bring 4,000 Students to Atlantic City By 2024
In an ambitious plan revealed by the school, Richard Stockton plans to try to bring around 4,000 students to the Atlantic City area over the next ten years. In addition, they plan to offer full degree programs at the Atlantic City campus within two years.
Plans for how the building would be used were also revealed on Friday. The casino will be eliminated and that space will be converted completely into academic and retail space.
Towers 2 and 3 will be used for student housing and will be complete with parking, dining and recreational facilities. Tower 1 will be converted into a hotel and will include several restaurants and retail outlets.
The college hopes to have the hotel open by late Spring 2015 and could start offering classes at the property as soon as Summer 2015. They plan to start offering a full schedule of classes at the Atlantic City branch starting in Fall 2015.
School Will Work With the City to Develop a University Park Neighborhood
Richard Stockton College is not stopping at merely converting the Showboat into a branch campus. The school is also working with local, county and state officials to redevelop the area around the casino into a University Park neighborhood to try to encourage economic growth.
Stockton College President Herman Saatkamp revealed that the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) would allocate up to $17 million that will be used toward renovations at the college.
Saatkamp commented on the neighborhood redevelopment plan, stating, “In urban centers across the nation, including Tampa, Indianapolis, Corpus Christi and Pittsburgh, revitalization has bloomed around institutions of higher learning. Businesses, from small entrepreneurs to large companies, are attracted to the opportunities to service college communities, benefit from the research and analysis being done, and tap into the educated workforce.”
Stockton Going Back to Roots With AC Campus
Saatkamp stated that the college would be going back to their roots with the new Atlantic City casino. When Stockton first opened, they held their first classes in the Mayflower Hotel in Atlantic City. To honor this tradition, one of the towers may be renamed Mayflower Tower.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian hailed the announcement as an early Christmas present to the city. He stated, “This is certainly going to be something that changes the city. I want students to become a part of the fabric of the city, get sand in their shoes, and maybe stay here.”
Former Showboat owner Caesars also praised the sale. Chairman and CEO of Caesars Entertainment Gary Loveman said, “Stockton’s acquisition of the Showboat exemplifies the efforts of the governor and legislative leadership to bolster Atlantic City’s non-gaming offerings. The diversification of activities available in A.C. stands to benefit all of the city’s stakeholders.”
Showboat was one of four Atlantic City casinos to shut down in 2014. Following the closure, Caesars enacted deed restrictions that prevented another casino company from purchasing the property. Saatkamp chose the Showboat because it was the best opportunity that he’d seen and for the overall condition of the property.