Stockton progressing on beachside campus in Atlantic City

As a result of growing enrollment and more students working in Atlantic City, Stockton University will open a campus there in September.This project is one part of a $220 million public-private partnership managed by Atlantic City Development Corp., a nonprofit redevelopment company established to serve as a vehicle for economic development in Atlantic City. 

Stockton’s Atlantic City campus will feature a residential housing complex for 533 students on the boardwalk, an academic building that accommodates 1,800 students and a parking garage that holds 879 cars. This land was formerly home to Atlantic City High School.

Stockton Atlantic City will offer more than 100 undergraduate courses starting in the fall, a hospitality program and three graduate programs: the Master of Social Work program, the Master of Arts in Education/Alternate Route Certification for teachers program, and a doctoral program in Organizational Leadership.

Stockton University’s part of the Atlantic City Gateway Project is being funded by $127.8 million in Atlantic County Improvement Authority bonds, $22 million via a state Higher Education Capital Improvement Fund grant, $18 million from Stockton University and $8.3 million from South Jersey Industries.

Stockton’s existing campus is in Galloway Township on 1,600 acres in the Pinelands National Reserve. It will offer a shuttle to transport students between its campuses, which are about 16 miles apart.

In the meantime, Stockton will open the Unified Science Center 2, a $33.2 million expansion of its world-class science facilities and a $15.2 million Health Sciences Center this spring on its Galloway campus.

Construction of these buildings began in summer 2016. They will be dedicated May 2 and receive students in September.

Because of its proximity to the reserve, Stockton does not have much room to expand in Galloway.

“Stockton’s move to Atlantic City allows the university to take advantage of different resources than those available on our Galloway campus,” said Michelle McDonald, university associate vice president of academic affairs. “For business and hospitality students, it is an opportunity to work more closely with businesses and resort facilities, and gain hands-on experience beyond the classroom.” 

The Atlantic City campus helps Stockton fulfill its mission as an anchor institution for the state of New Jersey, McDonald said. 

Because of its expansion, Stockton trustees approved a resolution April 9 to sell the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club, which has housed 267 students. The name of the potential buyer and the sale price will not be released until the sale is completed.

This sale comes eight years after Stockton purchased this hotel for $20 million to address an immediate need for student housing to address its growing enrollment.

Stockton’s enrollment reached a record 9,216 students in fall 2017. Diane D’Amico, director of news and media relations at Stockton, thinks the Atlantic City environment does not pose too many distractions for college students. She noted Atlantic City offers more than gambling.

“Any city offers distractions,” D’Amico said, citing Philadelphia and New York City. “Students are here to study. We are at the Gateway entrance to Atlantic City. We are creating a university college environment.”

Some Stockton students intern at hotels, the housing authority, businesses, restaurants and school districts in Atlantic City. This is among the reasons for the new campus.

“There is already a lot happening and we expect it to grow,” D’Amico said. “We are offering a 12-month housing option in Atlantic City. This is such a natural fit.”

The project was not without its share of challenges. D’Amico said it took a long time to put together the funding sources and contracts.

“It is up and running and on time,” D’Amico said. “Like any large project, it was a matter of getting everything together.”

Joseph Jingoli & Son is the contractor on the project. Joseph Jingoli, the company’s CEO, is teaming with Jack Morris, CEO and president of Edgewood Properties, to transform the former Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Atlantic City Development Corp. President Chris Paladino noted the project is the first public-private partnership in Atlantic City in decades. The corporation is the owner of the property and spearheaded the project in conjunction with its other partners.

“I think it basically shows that public-private partnerships in Atlantic City have their place particularly in non-casino development,” Paladino said.

The arrival of the Stockton students and faculty members in September will change the tempo of the neighborhood and improve the city, he said.