Stockton University continues its aggressive growth plans by announcing its intent to buy the shuttered Atlantic Club in New Jersey.

In its Aug. 8 meeting, the board of trustees unanimously voted in favor of buying the former casino. The approval gives Stockton President Harvey Kesselman permission to negotiate with TJM Properties, the current owner of the club.

The university will release the sale price once negotiations are complete.

“We are exploring, obviously, all possibilities in Atlantic City with the hope to expand the campus there,” Kesselman said after the vote to the Press of Atlantic City.

A revitalized Atlantic City

Many attribute the beginning of the revitalization efforts of Atlantic City with the openings of Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino in June.

Stockton University, however, has been a constant source of forward-thinking and innovative ideas focused on building the community.

Its commitment to strengthening the East Coast gaming mecca to its former glory began long before the renovation of the two formerly shuttered casinos started.

Stockton University’s interest in the Atlantic Club is not surprising. It has a history of purchasing property to help achieve its growth plans.

In fact, Kesselman said, “We’ve been discussing the possibility for several years now.”

Last week, the University sold the Seaview Hotel and Golf Club for $21 million to a Florida real estate holding company. It purchased the 104-year-old property in 2010 to provide student housing and address its growing enrollment at the time.

The sale of the hotel is what made the purchase of the Atlantic Club a viable option.

Buying the Atlantic Club makes sense

The university plans to open a new campus in Atlantic City in August. The new property will include academic and residential facilities. The goal is to provide a “learning community” that benefits the area and the state.

From Wednesday’s meeting:

“The Board of Trustees determined that the purchase of the Property will be a strategic capital investment to support the future growth of the Atlantic City campus, to provide additional opportunities to attract and recruit New Jersey students, and to stem the outmigration of New Jersey students who enroll in college and leave New Jersey…”

The Atlantic Club is located near the new campus, making it an ideal choice to accommodate Stockton University and its future growth plans.

Stockton University spokeswoman Diane D’Amico talks about the university’s growth:

“Certainly we are growing. There is no more room to expand in Galloway, and so we need to keep our options open, and we see Atlantic City as very promising. It’s part of our commitment to help revitalize the city.”

The property has been vacant since 2014 and includes:

  • Approximately nine acres of land with beach access
  • A nine-level parking garage
  • More than 50,000 square feet of office space
  • A 23-story hotel tower

As part of the sale, TJM will demolish the hotel tower. The parking garage, however, will stay intact.

More about the Atlantic Club

The property totals about 1.5 million square feet. Located on the southern end of The Boardwalk, it was the first and only “locals casino” in Atlantic City.

Its small size didn’t prevent it from being the top-grossing property in the early 1980s.

The property struggled to find a permanent home, though. During its time it operated under such brands as:

In the four years since it has been vacant, several buyers showed interest in the Atlantic Club. Financing the project proved to be troublesome and prevented the deals from closing.

Financing won’t be a problem for Stockton, however. The recent sale of the Seaview Hotel plus other shifts in its real estate portfolio, including offloading the Showboat Hotel, puts the university on a solid financial footing.

Atlantic City and Stockton University are making education a priority to avoid repeating its dependence on the NJ gambling market that threw the local economy in a tailspin.

Most agree that diversifying the city’s economy is an essential component of a revitalized Atlantic City.