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Stockton delays Showboat sale to Blatstein

Stockton University will delay the sale of the former Showboat casino property in Atlantic City until next year. Selling the site to Philadelphia-based developer Bart Blatstein's Tower Investments in 2016 offers financial benefits to both sides, the university said Friday in a statement.

Stockton University bought the Showboat property in December for $18 million.
Stockton University bought the Showboat property in December for $18 million.Read moreTOM GRALISH/Staff Photographer

Stockton University will delay the sale of the former Showboat casino property in Atlantic City until next year.

Selling the site to Philadelphia-based developer Bart Blatstein's Tower Investments in 2016 offers financial benefits to both sides, the university said Friday in a statement.

Settlement had been scheduled for Monday. Stockton said it would extend the date by two months.

"This is a positive occurrence for both the buyer and Stockton," Harvey Kesselman, Stockton's interim president, said in a news release.

"There are substantial tax benefits for the buyer, Tower Investments, by waiting until the beginning of 2016 to close," said Kesselman, who signed an amended sale agreement Friday.

"For Stockton, our carrying costs will be covered, plus we will immediately recoup more of the funds that have been spent in holding this property - a financial benefit to the university and its students. This extension will be backed with a guarantee."

Blatstein described the extension as a win-win, adding that he remains excited about buying the site.

He declined to discuss the financial details involved and deferred further comment to the university.

The Stockton board of trustees has scheduled a special meeting for Monday afternoon to approve the amended contract.

Stockton bought the Showboat last December for $18 million. Its plans were derailed by a legal mess that included contradictory restrictions on the site's use, multiple lawsuits, and the bankruptcy declaration of Caesars Entertainment, which sold the property to Stockton.

In September, Stockton announced a deal to sell Showboat to Blatstein for $22 million.

That amount would not make Stockton financially whole. Stockton spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each month to maintain and operate the Showboat property; a recent school tally found the university had spent $25.7 million by September.

Stockton's recurring costs for the property have averaged $477,500 a month - including $174,000 in salary and benefits for employees, $142,000 in monthly electricity bills, and $48,800 for natural gas.

Stockton had hoped to convert the Showboat into a residential campus for thousands of students. University officials say they still hope to create a campus of some sort in the city, though Kesselman has ruled out purchasing another casino building.

Instead, he has said, Stockton would construct its own buildings.

Blatstein has not said what he intends to do with the Showboat, commenting Friday only that "it's the best property in Atlantic City."

jlai@phillynews.com 856-779-3220 @elaijuh

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