More than half of New Jersey’s school districts have shrunk in the last six years, reflecting wider population moves toward urban areas as well as net migration from the state. School districts are shrinking at a rapid rate in the Northwest of the state, as well as in Southern shore communities such as Avalon, Margate and Ventnor.
Stockton University is seeking a coffee shop to occupy a boardwalk-fronting retail space in its planned $100-million-dollar student-residence building in Atlantic City, according to a document published on Friday. The University’s request-for-qualifications (RFQ) is the most recent step in the realization of a total $200 million project that is set to bring massive change to the southern end of the city within a couple of years. Prospective tenants must be regional or national brands, with at least five years’ business experience, according to the document (here). The coffee shop will be permitted to sell food that requires ‘limited cooking’ – since the University will be looking for a restaurant operator to move into a larger retail space in the same building. The coffee shop is one of three total retail spaces in the residence building, which is set to become home to 533 students in August 2018.
Two of South Jersey’s universities are in expansion mode and we thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast their vital statistics, side by side, using data from the state budget. You can see that enrollment is up at both universities (so are fees) and state-funded positions are also up at Rowan University. It will be interesting to see whether the chatter around Rowan’s plans to expand in Atlantic City comes to anything, since Stockton University is rolling out ever-bigger plans for the city. On the one hand, expansion could bring more jobs and investment to the area, but on the other hand these institutions don’t pay property taxes. Since we wrote about Stockton’s plans to further expand in Atlantic City, we’ve also heard more people questioning the university’s debt load and its tuition costs, so we looked at the numbers. The amount of state support that Rowan receives is much greater – my guess is that this is tied to Rowan’s medical programs, but it’s not clear. And Stockton is slightly more expensive than Rowan, by these measures.
The infrastructure company that was awarded a contract to design the first building at the Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park already wants to be paid more. Infrastructure company AECOM was last month granted an additional $41,234.00 for an amended contract worth $738,390.00, according to the minutes of the Atlantic County Improvement Authority’s August meeting. The extra money is needed because when AECOM submitted its original bid, the scope of the project was not yet finalized, according to the minutes. “Therefore, certain assumptions were made, and while some of these assumptions were correct, some were inaccurate,” the minutes state. Among the changes are an allowance to design a “Thunder Room” (a kind of top-notch conference room, apparently) and a roof-top deck.
Stockton University will have a “weakened financial position” after issuing new debt to build a parking garage and residence hall in Atlantic City, and it may look to raise tuition fees, according to debt ratings agency Fitch Ratings. Stockton, which gained university status last year, is borrowing $70 million to pay for the Atlantic City development and $211 million to refund outstanding debt and finance $25 million in projects at its main Galloway campus. Since the University’s operating results were in the red last year in spite of healthy enrollment growth, Stockton needs to trim expenses and raise revenue – likely by making tuition “adjustments,” the ratings agency said in a statement on Wednesday. Without those changes, Stockton would not be able to borrow for any further expansion projects without risking a ratings downgrade, which would increase the cost of its borrowing and further worsen its financial position. “Stockton’s operating results have been negative since fiscal 2014,” said Fitch.