Is Atlantic City the next big college town?

It seems a bit preposterous on the surface. A city famous for being a gambler’s paradise (albeit a bit of a rundown one) could very well morph into a college town.

A new report out of New Jersey suggests that Richard Stockton College of New Jersey is interested in locating a campus within Atlantic City. Let me be clear. The college concept was actually buried in a recent news story, but it got me thinking. With three casinos on the verge of closing – and with 6 buyers interested in Revel Casino which is on the verge of bankruptcy – turning Atlantic City into a college town could be a smart move.

There are a few possibilities here. The New Jersey College could purchase an old casino building, knock it down, and erect a university campus. They wouldn’t be purchasing the casino property as much as they’d be purchasing the land.

Another idea? They could keep the building as is and turn the casino, shopping, and restaurant spaces into classrooms, digital arts labs, libraries, and communal student areas. The hotel towers could morph into college dormitories. Or they could be a combination of college dorms, hotel rooms, and residences.

I know what you’re thinking. Who would want to live with students in the same building? But if it’s a property like Revel, which was built in 2012 and is fairly gorgeous, most people wouldn’t mind.

This idea isn’t so crazy. You’ll find all sorts of mixed-use neighborhoods in big cities around the world. New York, Chicago, and Toronto are famous for mixing residential with hotels, so why not Atlantic City? You could easily create separate entrances and elevator banks for student floors, hotel floors, and residential floors.

Creating a college community that happens to live in the same world as casinos really isn’t that ridiculous, nor is it without precedence.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) is located right off the strip. It’s 1.5 miles from MGM Grand. And just to put things into perspective, UNLV 0.3 miles from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which sits just off the strip. Yup, the campus services building is literally across the street from the Hard Rock. You could walk there without breaking a sweat (well, you’d probably sweat with that brutal desert heat, but you get the idea).

Perhaps a thriving college town where college kids frequent restaurants and (at least those over 21) head to bars would be a huge economy booster. The more I think about this, the more I’d like to see this happen.