City of Atlanta, Church Set To Buy Morris Brown College

News & Views | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 05/27/2014 | 11:30 AM EDT

The financially embattled HBCU may soon be able to settle its nearly $30 million debt

The city of Atlanta and a local church are in the running on a bid to buy Morris Brown College out of bankruptcy. The city, which partnered with Friendship Baptist Church, has offered $14.6 million, according to officials.


Through the city’s development agency Invest Atlanta, the proposal will spend $10.625 million and Friendship will contribute $4 million, according to a spokesperson for Mayor Kasim Reed. The Morris Brown Bankruptcy Creditors Committee has confirmed the city as the highest bidder.


The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports city will assume in the takeover, however, officials previously said Atlanta would gain control of the college stadium, while Friendship would own other portions of the campus. Morris Brown will retain some of its historic buildings, which will allow the school to continue use the campus for educational purposes.


HBCU ENROLLMENT ON THE DECLINE, WILL THEY EVER RECOVER?


Friendship Baptist is one of two historically Black churches to sell in the wake of the future Atlanta Falcons stadium. Atlanta officials are playing a role in the $1.3 billion Falcons stadium, including issuing $200 million in bonds backed by hotel-motel taxes for its construction. The stadium is within walking distance of the Morris Brown campus.


Morris Brown filed for bankruptcy in August 2012 with roughly $30 million in debt, prompting the college to have talks with Atlanta over buying the property. Morris Brown rejected a $10 million offer from the city in 2013, but eventually reached out to the mayor in March.


Mayor Reed previously said in a statement Thursday that partnering with Friendship to buy the church allows both parties a “critical stake” in the revitalization of the Westside.


“If we succeed in this bid, it will bring much-needed stability and cohesiveness to these communities as we embark on a determined effort to spur job creation, civic engagement and business investment to the historic neighborhoods of Vine City and English Avenue,” Reed said in a statement read.


Invest Atlanta has also committed $15 million from the Westside tax allocation district for redevelopment projects in the area.


It’s not clear yet whether the city’s bid will be officially accepted. A hearing on the sale is scheduled for May 29. The college hopes to move fast. Bidders were asked to be able to finalize the deal by May 31, pending court approval.

(Photo: THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION/Landov)

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