University approves plans to purchase former atlantic club casino

Four years after New Jersey’s Atlantic Club Casino Hotel shut down, Stockton University has decided to acquire the now abandoned property. On Wednesday, the university’s board of trustees approved plans to purchase the closed casino resort, which is located near a new residential campus that opens in less than a month.

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Atlantic Club was one of four Atlantic City’s Boardwalk casinos to close down in 2014, the others being Trump Plaza, Revel, and Showboat. The empty former resort is expected to go through renovation if Stockton University closes the purchase deal for the property with Clearwater, Florida-based TJM Properties. During a meeting on Wednesday, the university’s board of trustees voted unanimously to move forward with the acquisition, which follows the public university’s plans for expansion.

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According to Stockton officials, the exact terms of the agreement, as well as the purchase price will be disclosed after closing the deal, which is yet to be scheduled. Under the proposal, the current owner of the casino should handle the demolition of the 23-story hotel tower, while the university would keep the 9-level parking garage. The school also says it would acquire the land, which includes around 9 acres in upland lots and 11 acres of beachfront land.
Atlantic Club Casino Hotel opened its doors for the first time in 1980 as The Golden Nugget and within three years, it became the city’s top-earning casino. After Steve Wynn sold it for $440 million to Bally Manufacturing, its name changed to Bally’s Grand and later was rebranded to Atlantic City Hilton. In 2012, the casino was once again rebranded and in an attempt to refresh it, its owners focused on a brand new concept – the new name of the resort was the Atlantic Club and it was now known as a locals’ casino.

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The move proved to be ineffective in keeping the casino afloat and in 2014, it closed doors, selling its buildings to Caesars Entertainment and its slot machines, gaming tables and players database to Tropicana. The Florida-based development firm TJM Properties then bought the property for a reported price of only $13.5 million with the initial idea to reopen it as a hotel. Several sale deals and redevelopment plans, including two concepts that would transform the hotel into a water park, fell through until Stockton University announced that it is interested in buying it.
Investment in the Future of Atlantic City

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Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said that the school had discussed the purchase of the former casino resort for several years. With the increasing demand for Atlantic City campus housing, the prospects of a future acquisition became more appealing, he explained, adding that the housing is almost at full capacity. The site of the former Atlantic Club casino is only two blocks away from the university’s new campus which will be welcoming students in late August.

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The plans for the new property are still not clear and will be fully disclosed after the deal is finally closed. For now, the expansion includes creating more residential and academic facilities for the growing university, which is based in Galloway, Atlantic County. Back in 2015, Stockton bought Showboat Atlantic City casino for $18 million, which caused a huge backlash, especially when the college was unable to open the property. It sold it for $23 million the following year.

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Last week, Stockton University sold yet another property, which allowed it to move forward with the Atlantic Club acquisition. Under the deal, the Seaview Resort was purchased by a Florida-based company for the total amount of $21.07 million.

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Commenting on the potential agreement with TJM, Kesselman said the proposal is an investment in the future of Stockton and Atlantic City. He believes that the redevelopment of the vacant casino resort would be instrumental in the long-term renaissance of Atlantic City. This is the most significant city in New Jersey, he added, and the university is now part of the solution.