Here’s the cool thing about today’s ribbon-cutting of Stockton University’s Phase II Residence Hall in Atlantic City: The 135,000-square-foot, six-story building not only will have 416 beds in 107 apartment- and suite-style living spaces, but incredible views of the beach, Boardwalk and O’Donnell Park.
In other words, it’s just the latest college dorm that is far better than anything the average ROI-NJ editor ever experienced.
The residence hall, built by master developer Atlantic City Development Corp., will be what every modern-day college student craves.
The four single-bedroom suites come with a common area, a full kitchen and two bathrooms (to share among four people).
The building will have common areas for socializing and studying and includes a coffee bar, business center, game room, yoga room and other common spaces. And there will be an outdoor courtyard that will serve as a gathering space for what will be a combined total of 862 students living on campus this fall.
That’s incredible. But this is more than just building out a cool campus, it’s about building up a part of Atlantic City that has long been in need of more density.
That begs the question: What’s next?
The campus provides numerous opportunities for intersections of higher education and industry, helping to foster innovation, workforce development and economic growth.
For instance, ACDevco owns the 2.5-acre lot between the two dorms. What will become of it?
Perhaps another dorm (which could send the student population past 1,200)?
Or an academic building (would the school want to create a business or hospitality school in Atlantic City — or, perhaps, a place to train future health care workers)?
There’s also room across the street to expand in any number of ways.
Chris Paladino, the head of ACDevco and the person who has helped build out so much of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, said he’s open to working with Stockton on almost anything — as long as it brings more energy to the area.
When you combine the 862 students with faculty, staff — and those in the nearby South Jersey Industries headquarters — thousands of people will be in this space during an average school/work day.
“Think about it,” he said. “This fall, you’ll have about 2,000 people a day there — all of which will need to buy lunch or find things to do. This is how you build areas.”
This is how you build something that outgoing President Harvey Kesselman always has wanted.
Kesselman, who was a member of the first class at then-Stockton State College in 1971, has long dreamed of having the school return to its Atlantic City roots in some way.
And, while he will participate in a ceremony Wednesday in which the first residence hall is renamed in his honor, he was a bit tight-lipped on what the next steps for the campus will be.
“As an anchor institution, Stockton University remains a committed partner in Atlantic City,” he told ROI-NJ in a statement.
“As we nearly double the number of Stockton students living in the city with the opening of our second residential facility here, our focus is on providing students living and learning experiences just steps from the beach and amenities of the city.
“We are dedicated to continued growth in Atlantic City.”
It’s not necessarily a blueprint for the future — but, it is a sign of the times.
The ribbon-cutting of the school’s second residence hall does not just signal that there may be hope for Atlantic City’s future — it signals that the town’s future already is here. It’s just a matter of where it goes next.
That’s a type of excitement that has long been missing in A.C.