Stockton University on Wednesday agreed to pursue a partnership with a developer for more student housing in Atlantic City, as its initial beachfront dorm continues to ride a wave of popularity.

The university opened the five-story, 535-bed residence hall on the Boardwalk last year, and it is projected to be filled in the fall, said Diane D’Amico, a university spokesperson. The dorm is part of a new, $178.3 million Atlantic City campus that also includes a three-story academic center.

All university housing — including at the school’s main campus in Galloway Township — was at 98 percent capacity last school year, she said. The university has housing for just under 3,500 students.

“Atlantic City has been hugely popular,” D’Amico said. “It was the first to fill up for the fall.”

Stockton University president Harvey Kesselman speaks outside Stockton University's Atlantic City campus in Atlantic City, NJ on August 27, 2018.
David Maialetti
Stockton University president Harvey Kesselman speaks outside Stockton University's Atlantic City campus in Atlantic City, NJ on August 27, 2018.

The new dorm, which would be built by Atlantic City Development Corp. (ACDevco) and leased to the university, would be adjacent to the campus, a block off the beach on Atlantic Avenue. It would be targeted to open in 2021, D’Amico said.

Stockton’s board of trustees on Wednesday authorized the administration to negotiate the partnership with ACDevco.

The university continues to experience enrollment growth, bucking a trend at many schools. Pennsylvania’s 14-state university system is bracing for another projected enrollment decline.

Stockton officials say they will only continue with the partnership if the state agrees to give the university $5 million in annual funding on top of whatever allotment it gets under the next state budget. The university received more than $18 million in state funding for 2018-19.

Stockton president Harvey Kesselman told the Assembly Budget Committee this month that the school has made an investment in Atlantic City and the state’s effort to keep more New Jersey students in the Garden State for college — and needs some return on that investment.

“We are hopeful that the state will continue its investment in Atlantic City toward establishing an Eds and Meds corridor critical for the city’s future, while stemming the out-migration of New Jersey students,” Kesselman said.