Chris Christie at Gateway groundbreaking

Gov. Chris Christie speaks at the groundbreaking for the Gateway Project in Atlantic City.

Hot on the heels of the Hard Rock detailing its plans for the former Trump Taj Mahal, Stockton University held a groundbreaking ceremony for its newest venture, the Atlantic City Gateway Project, on Thursday, April 20.

Guests gathered at on the Atlantic City boardwalk at South Albany Avenue next to the dusty construction zone that will soon be the newest addition to Stockton University.

Governor Chris Christie kicked off the ground breaking with a speech that lauded Atlantic City.

“Private investors don’t put their money in for charitable reasons. They may have charitable motivations that are part of it, but, in the end, their job is to do projects that are profitable,” he said of the many investors putting money into the city, driving home his point that Atlantic City is on an economic upswing.

The future 675,000-square-foot campus will cost $220 million and include classrooms, a residential portion, shops, restaurants and a new headquarters for South Jersey Industries. It is projected to open in the fall of 2018.

The spirit of goodwill and a sunny tomorrow for Atlantic City was the running theme of the ceremony — reminiscent of the Hard Rock press conference two weeks earlier.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney spoke after Christie, saying, “We’re all pulling together to make Atlantic City what it was before.”

CEO of South Jersey Industries Michael Renna spoke next, and was met with applause after asserting “It feels like a real Jersey project.”

Stockton University President Dr. Harvey Kesselman rounded out the speeches, giving a heartwarming account of Stockton’s history and its former mantra “Plant yourself where you can grow.”

“We’re rooted and are growing strong,” he said, later joking that at the new campus there will be “parking galore,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to the abysmal lack of parking at the current Stockton campus.

“We will raise more than steel and bricks and mortar here,” Kesselman finished. “We will raise hope and opportunity. Move over seagulls. The Ospreys have landed.”

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