The City of Atlanta and Friendship Baptist Church are offering $12.6 million to buy out nearly all of the 37-acre Morris Brown campus in west Atlanta.
The deal would allow the historic black college, which filed for bankruptcy in 2012, to retain its existing buildings.
Yesterday was the deadline set by the bankruptcy court for all offers on the property. Morris Brown attorney Renardo Hicks wouldn’t confirm or deny any offers received, but did say the school’s board and its partners would consider all options in the days and weeks ahead.
“The proposals submitted yesterday will all be evaluated and the board of trustees of Morris Brown will make a determination as to whether or not there’s a new plan that can be submitted to the bankruptcy court out of those proposals submitted,” said Hicks.
The city’s economic development arm, Invest Atlanta, and Friendship submitted the $12.6 million offer – $9 million from Invest Atlanta, the rest from Friendship.
The deal would allow the historic west Atlanta church to remain in the neighborhood. Last year, Friendship was one of two historic churches to sell its property to help pave the way for the new Atlanta Falcons stadium. Friendship would build a brand new church somewhere on the Morris Brown campus.
“Staying in the community is the ideal scenario for us and this allows us to stay in the community and also hopefully be able to help Morris Brown,” said Friendship board chair Lloyd Hawk.
The school, which was founded in 1881 by former slaves, faced a $30 million debt when it filed for bankruptcy in August 2012. Since then, the school has rejected two separate offers, including a $10 million offer from the city of Atlanta.
The school hired the brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle to help sell the property. Clark Atlanta University has a claim on 17 acres of it and the African Methodist Episcopal Church is also a stakeholder, having loaned the school millions to help pay its debts.
Hawk said the school now has 15 days to decide on the offer, but Hicks said the only fixed date is at the end of the month, when a court hearing is scheduled to address any sale and any objection to the sale.
Source: WABE | JONATHAN SHAPIRO