A state appellate court on Thursday denied developer Glenn Straub’s efforts to enforce his contract to buy the Showboat hotel from Stockton University.

The court ruled the appeal had no merit and Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez was correct in his decision to allow Stockton to void its contract with Straub and sell the property to developer Bart Blatstein.

It also ruled Straub had no ongoing right to utilities from Showboat.

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Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said Thursday he is “extraordinarly pleased” with the outcome and thanked attorney Stephen Hankin for his “extraordinary job” representing both Blatstein and Stockton.

Hankin said he was not surprised by the decision and is pleased it was made quickly. He said it allows Blatstein to more easily move forward with his plans for Showboat.

“This lawsuit was a major stumbling block,” Hankin said. We were confident we would win, but we knew it would take time.”

He said they do plan to file to recoup legal fees, which are expected to be even more than the almost $45,000 Stockton was awarded by Mendez from the Superior Court case.

Straub’s attorney Stuart Moskovitz had no comment on the decision, saying he would review it with his client. He confirmed the $26 million Straub had agreed to pay for Showboat has remained in escrow during the appeal.

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Stockton purchased the Showboat in December 2014 for $18 million intending to convert it into an Atlantic City campus. But that plan was stalled by dueling deed restrictions, one from 1988 with Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort that required Showboat to operate as a casino, and another by Showboat’s owners that prohibited it from operating a casino. Taj Mahal ownership said at the time it would not release the covenant.

Unable to move forward, Stockton signed an agreement in April 2015 to sell the Showboat to Straub’s KK Ventures for $26 million. That agreement expired July 2, 2015 without settlement. Straub sued Stockton, claiming the university had not done all it could to deal with the deed restrictions. He asked the court to extend the contract. He also wanted access to power from Showboat, which had been included in the contract.

Stockton countersued, saying the contract was properly terminated.

In August 2015, Mendez ruled the contract was property terminated and Stockton was free to sell Showboat to another buyer.

In November 2015, Mendez ruled that since Straub did not buy Showboat, the contract provision that required Stockton to provide access to power from Showboat for Revel could not be enforced.

Both of those issues were included in the appeal.

Stockton sold Showboat to Blatstein’s Showboat Renaissance LLC in January 2016 for $23 million. It reopened as a hotel last summer.

Contact:

609 272-7241 DDamico@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressDamico

More than 40 years at The Press in writing and editing positions.

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