Bart Blatstein Now Owns the Former Showboat Casino

Though it has sold the former Showboat Casino to Bart Blatstein, Stockton University still plans an island campus in Atlantic City at a different site.

Showboat Casino

Showboat Casino after it closed in 2014 (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Last Friday, Stockton University closed on a deal where the school sold the former Showboat Casino to the Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein.

Stockton originally purchased the old Showboat casino from Caesars Entertainment in 2014 with the intention of using it as a hotel and the centerpiece of their new “island campus.” (Stockton University’s main campus is in Galloway Township, on the mainland near Atlantic City.)

But competing pacts on the site — Caesars said it couldn’t be used as a casino, while the nearby Trump Taj Mahal had a pact saying it could only be used for a casino — held up the conversion. Stockton said Carl Icahn, poised to take control of the Taj as it exits bankruptcy, wanted 1,331 hotel rooms in exchange for waiving the pact. The boondoggle eventually led to the end of Stockton University president Herman Saatkamp’s tenure and an unknown future for the site.

Glenn Straub was going to buy the Showboat in order to connect Revel to the grid. But that deal fell apart over legal wrangling regarding the competing covenants; Straub eventually agreed to buy the power plant he was in a dispute with.

In stepped Blatstein, who agreed to purchase the property in September. The deal was delayed from closing in November for tax reasons.

“The university is fortunate to have worked with someone with a strong record of successful development and a commitment to Atlantic City, which is important to Stockton,” Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said in a release. “It has been a pleasure to work with Bart Blatstein on this successful sale. Stockton will collaborate with Mr. Blatstein in ways that will contribute to the renaissance of Atlantic City.”

The former Showboat is Blatstein’s second Atlantic City property. In 2014, he purchased the former Pier Shops mall across from the Caesars casino. Revamped as The Playground, the new venue received tepid reviews; its music venue, 39N, closed after just a few months. Blatstein said the pier would be 100 percent leased this year. Longtime Atlantic City bar and pizza place Tony’s Baltimore Grill is opening up a second location at the Pier.

Blatstein has not yet announced his plans for the site; he’s now responsible for disentangling the competing pacts that have prevented the site’s re-use so far. Stockton, meanwhile, is forging ahead with an Atlantic City campus. It plans to put it at the site bounded by the Boardwalk and Atlantic, Albany, Trenton and Ventnor avenues, where Atlantic City High School used to be. (It’s essentially at the site where U.S. Routes 40 and 322 have their eastern terminus; it’s currently surface parking and an empty lot.)

“Stockton is closing this chapter in our history, and moving on to exciting plans for the university’s future, which include new academic programs, expanding both community partnerships and global outreach, and construction of major new facilities which will transform the Galloway campus,” Kesselman said. “The university is committed to investing in new academic opportunities and technologies in order to attract prospective students, benefit our region, state and nation, and expand internationally.”

The university plans a 56,000-square-foot academic building with on-site parking and residential housing for 500 students. It is currently working on financing.

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