ATLANTIC CITY On the list of things the Showboat property in Atlantic City is not: A casino, a college campus, an extension cord.
A judge ruled Monday that Stockton University is not required to connect the Showboat building to the Revel property next door, as Florida developer Glenn Straub had sought.
"Stockton is grateful that the court has ruled that we are free of all energy obligations with KK Ventures, and can now complete settlement with this behind us," Harvey Kesselman, Stockton's interim president, said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Straub's KK Ventures agreed to buy the Showboat property from Stockton. Right before settlement, Straub sued Stockton, saying it was not doing enough to clear a legal mess that hampers the building's being used.
Superior Court Judge Julio L. Mendez declared that sale agreement dead, freeing Stockton to market the Showboat. The university now plans to sell the property to Philadelphia-based developer Bart Blatstein in January.
But Straub, who bought the Revel casino property and has been engaged in a months-long fight over utilities, sued the university once again - this time because he wanted the energy he said Stockton must provide.
According to the now-dead purchase agreement, Stockton was to provide "power, electricity, and hot and cold water" from Showboat to Revel during the 90-day period before closing. That provision was independent of the rest of the contract, meant to "survive the termination of this agreement and seller's election to not proceed to closing."
Straub argued that the provision meant he could connect Revel to Showboat, getting utility service even though he was no longer buying the Showboat. Mendez disagreed, based on the wording of the last sentence: "Seller's election to not proceed to closing."
Stockton, the judge noted, had been prepared to close. It was Straub who pumped the brakes.
"The court interprets the last sentence . . . to mean that the obligation to provide energy is an independent contractual obligation and survives only in the event that the PSA is terminated and it is the seller who does not proceed to closing," Mendez wrote.
Straub's lawyer, Stuart J. Moskovitz, declined to comment Monday, saying there were "a lot of variables" involved.
If Stockton had chosen not to sell the property according to the agreement, Mendez wrote, then Straub would be entitled to connect Revel and Showboat.
Mendez also ruled that Straub's claim to connect the properties expired after 90 days.
"If gaining access to the Showboat property for energy was so important to KK Ventures," Mendez noted, "then they had every opportunity to buy the property within the prescribed time frame and they did not." - Jonathan Lai