December 14, 2014 / 2:58 AM / in 3 years

New Jersey college buys Atlantic City casino for dorm, branch campus

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A New Jersey college said on Saturday it has completed its $18 million purchase of the shuttered Showboat Atlantic City casino resort from Caesars Entertainment Corp (CZR.O), a deal that would usher in a new dormitory and a branch campus.

A man tries to peek into the closed Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey September 1, 2014. REUTERS/Tom Mihalek

Officials from Richard Stockton College in nearby Galloway Township, said in a statement they plan to convert some of the 1.4 million square foot building into dormitory space.

The Showboat has 1,329 hotel rooms and sits on 28 beachfront acres.

Four Atlantic City casinos have closed this year, and city officials have struggled find uses for the shuttered buildings.

The former casino floor would be converted to administrative offices. Theaters at the building would, under the college’s plans, house facilities for dance, music and drama programs, the school said.

One of the three towers will remain a hotel holding some 479 rooms opening sometime in the spring of 2015.

The college said dorm rooms could be used as hotel rooms during summer months, when demand is high and most students are away from campus.

The college said the purchase price is far less expensive than new construction. The purchase was announced in November.

Gaming companies, fearing new competition, have typically inserted deed restrictions prohibiting new owners from re-opening the properties as casinos.

“The diversification of activities available in AC stands to benefit all of the city’s stakeholders,” said Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman in a statement.

Caesars Entertainment closed Showboat in August, even though it was profitable, to try to consolidate Atlantic City’s deteriorating gaming market.

Stockton College purchased the Seaview Resort in Galloway Township in 2010 for $20 million. It uses part of the property to train students in hospitality and generate revenue for the college, and to house students.

Reporting by Daniel Kelley in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and David Gregorio

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