ATLANTIC CITY — Stockton University on Wednesday held back-to-back ceremonies, one to celebrate outgoing President Harvey Kesselman and the other to show off its newest student housing.

A crowd of about 100 students, faculty and local officials gathered at the university’s City Campus around noon as officials unveiled a new sign proclaiming the school’s first residence hall in the resort Kesselman Hall.

Kesselman was a key figure in university history, overseeing the school’s expansion into the city that embodied a push to reinvent the town known for its tourism and casinos.

“Atlantic City holds a very special place in my heart,” Kesselman said, recalling childhood memories moments before officials unveiled his name on the residence hall. “I can’t help but think of how proud my parents would be that, in just one generation, we went from there to here, and the reason that happened is just one word: Stockton.”

Kesselman has been Stockton president since 2015 and has been involved with the university since it was located at the Mayflower Hotel in 1971. He will retire June 30, passing the baton to new college President Joe Bertolino.

Last week, the city also named a portion of Albany Avenue after Kesselman.

After the first ceremony, the same crowd walked about a block north, forming again in front of the new residential building at Atlantic and South Providence avenues, where Kesselman and other officials cut a ribbon to welcome visitors before a first-floor tour.

Nearly furnished couches and fresh paint decorated a downstairs area leading to an outdoor patio, giving students a view of the former Atlantic Club Casino Hotel next door.

The building features apartment- and suite-style units with a total of 416 beds.

Most of the suites include four single bedrooms, a common area, two bathrooms and a full kitchen. The building also includes a lounge on each floor, as well as meeting rooms, a business center and laundry spaces.

Stockton junior Chloe King, of Pennsauken, Camden County, was taken aback by how well she felt the rooms were furnished. She also appreciated several amenities that will be available, including a kitchen complete with garbage disposal, refrigerator and table.

“It’s fulfilling, in a way,” King said. “You see all this stuff, you hear about it, but to see it in person, to see all the hard work that they did pay off, and now I get to live in it, is amazing.”

The new residence hall is part of Phase II of Stockton’s development in Atlantic City, as it seeks to gradually build up a university district in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood.

The first phase, for which Kesselman Hall and an academic building were built, opened in 2018. Talks have progressed between the development company and university about what the third phase could entail, including a mixed-use building spanning 300,000 to 500,000 square feet.

The new residence hall, a 135,000-square-foot, six-story, $69.3 million building, is steps away from the beach, Boardwalk and O’Donnell Memorial Park.

New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, D-Burlington, Camden, said the new dorm is helping the city make strides in transforming from a “gaming city to a city with gaming.”

“For too long, Atlantic City has relied on one industry as its backbone, and our vision works with key leaders in this region of the state, with defined partners that were willing to come to Atlantic City and invest, to make sure we could grow around other things than gaming,” Greenwald said.

Source: Press of Atlantic City