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Whelan & Mazzeo to Introduce Legislation Removing Deed Restrictions on Showboat Property

Bill Would Allow Stockton to More Easily Sell Showboat to Another Buyer

(ATLANTIC CITY) — Senator Jim Whelan and Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (both D-Atlantic) announced Monday they will introduce legislation that would absolve Stockton University of conflicting land covenants on the former Showboat site.

“The conflicting land covenants between Trump and Caesars have made it very difficult for Stockton officials to sell the Showboat property,” said Senator Whelan. “This legislation would remove land covenants from the property so that Stockton could sell Showboat and use the proceeds for another location for its Island Campus.”

“Trump and Caesars’ restrictive and counterproductive deed restrictions on the Showboat have made it nearly impossible to sell the property. Building Stockton’s Island Campus is a priority for the City of Atlantic City, and they can’t do it without first selling the Showboat. Circumstances that arose in 1988 simply don’t apply today and this legislation gives Stockton the recourse it needs to take the next step in building a campus in Atlantic City that is a benefit to the city, residents, and South Jersey’s college students,” said Assemblyman Mazzeo.

The legislation would declare any land covenants or deed restrictions on property held by public entities in the Atlantic City Tourism District to violate the public interest, making them void and unenforceable. Legal precedent combined with the unique status Atlantic City has within the State of New Jersey allows the Legislature to determine that it is in the public interest to allow institutions of higher education to contribute to the vitality and diversity of Atlantic City and its economic strength.

In 1988, Trump Taj Mahal filed a land covenant with the County Clerk’s office declaring that a casino had to occupy the Showboat site. In November 2014, a month before the sale of Showboat to Stockton, Caesars Entertainment filed a deed restriction preventing a casino from being established on the property. Stockton officials have found it difficult to sell the Showboat property because of uncertainly by prospective buyers on acceptable use of the land.

“Caesars acted in bad faith when, on the verge of bankruptcy, it sold Showboat to Stockton without resolving its land covenant dispute with Trump,” said Whelan. “Now, Stockton is unable to sell a piece of property that costs $400,000 a month to maintain and is unable to develop as a college campus.”

Assemblyman Mazzeo added, “With this bill, the Legislature is declaring these covenants on public property violate the public interest and will be nullified.”

The legislation will be considered by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee, of which Senator Whelan is the chair, Thursday, July 23, and will be introduced in the General Assembly at the next quorum.

Click here for a copy of the bill.