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Thursday, February 11, 2016

ACIA Votes to Advance Aviation Research and Technology Park and Stockton University Island Campus Redevelopment Project

The Atlantic County Improvement Authority (ACIA) voted at its February 11 board meeting to make application to the Local Finance Board to issue county-guaranteed project notes and revenue bonds, in one or more series, with the proceeds to be used to help finance the Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park (SARTP) and the Stockton University Island Campus Redevelopment Project.

According to County Executive Dennis Levinson, both projects are vital economic development initiatives that are consistent with the recently completed Atlantic County Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan by AngelouEconomics of Austin, Texas.

Tax credits offered under the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA) ERG Program have been secured for the residential building and garage portions of the project that will be funded by the ACIA. Proceeds will be directed to provide debt service support.

“These projects have been carefully vetted and are integral to spurring diverse and sustainable economic growth,” Levinson said. “Both present little risk to county taxpayers with the potential for significant rewards.” 

The Stockton Aviation Research and Technology Park is a nonprofit collaboration of industry, academia, and government located adjacent to the Federal Aviation Administration’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township. It is dedicated to the advancement of aviation sciences through private and public research and development.  It will capitalize on its proximity to the Tech Center and New Jersey’s designation as one of six FAA-designated national test sites for unmanned air vehicle research.  The park will be a state of the art, integrated and dynamic research environment that will provide national and international leadership in delivering innovative technologies needed to meet the challenges of modernizing domestic and global aviation.

In its report, AngelouEconomics noted that the aviation sector offered the greatest and most immediate potential for economic growth in Atlantic County and should be a priority for development. The ACIA’s role in financing this project is to expedite development of the 58,000 square foot first building that will set the standard for the park. The SARTP is expected to spur the creation of 2,000 highly paid engineering and technical jobs. 

Once the project is constructed, the ACIA will lease building space to aviation industry-related tenants. The ACIA will use the lease revenues from the project to pay the debt service on the ACIA obligations and fund associated operational costs. Additional funding for this project will come from the Casino Redevelopment Investment Authority (CRDA). 

The Stockton University Island Campus Redevelopment Project will include a new Stockton Campus in Atlantic City with academic facilities, new student housing and retail opportunities. The project is a public-private partnership involving South Jersey Industries, AC Devco, the ACIA, the CRDA, NJEDA, the City of Atlantic City and Stockton University. 

“This project is the largest and perhaps most significant non-casino development in Atlantic City,” stated Levinson.
“It will be transformative and help move Atlantic City toward a more promising and sustainable direction. The redevelopment project will revitalize several parcels that have sat vacant for a number of years.  It will generate an estimated $1.5 million in tax revenues on land that is currently taxed at $300,000. I am grateful to all the entities that came together to make this happen.”

The Stockton University academic building will be located in the Chelsea section of Atlantic City at the site of the former Atlantic City High School across from O’Donnell Memorial Park while the new housing building will be located directly across Atlantic Avenue and include Boardwalk frontage. An 885-car parking garage will provide Stockton with approximately 600 parking spaces and 85 spaces designated for the public. South Jersey Gas will pay $6 million for the remaining spaces and an additional $3.8 million to enhance the structural facility on which its new headquarters will be built.

Levinson stated that he was pleased that the ACIA was able to help move these important projects toward fruition. Construction for both projects is planned to begin this May.

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