By Maria Saporta
Pope & Land Enterprises confirmed Wednesday that it also has submitted a proposal to buy the 37 acres of land owned by Morris Brown College just west of the new Atlanta Falcons stadium.
“The bid was contingent upon working out an agreement to keep Morris Brown operating on a portion of the property,” said Mason Zimmerman, a senior vice president of Pope & Land Enterprises, while on the metro Atlanta LINK delegation trip to Philadelphia.
Pope & Land’s offer is the second known team bidding for the property. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed disclosed last week that the City of Atlanta and Friendship Baptist Church had teamed up to make a $12.6 million offer to buy most of the property. Reed said the city-Friendship team’s offer was for the 37 acres “exclusive of the four or five academic buildings where Morris Brown could continue to operate.”
Morris Brown filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2012 saddled with debts totaling up to $30 million. It has been trying to find a buyer for its property as a way to pay off some of its major creditors ever since. The case is being heard by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Barbara Ellis-Monro.
The real estate consulting firm of Jones Lang LaSalle was brought in earlier this year to help Morris Brown sell the property. Interested buyers were given until April 30th to submit their proposals.
Although Zimmerman did not disclose the specific amount that Pope & Land had offered for the property, he did suggest that there could be a few more steps before a final price for Morris Brown’s has been determined.
“The offer was a qualified bid according to the terms outlined by the bankruptcy court, and it was competitive with the city’s and Friendship’s offer,” Zimmerman said, suggesting it probably was lower than the city’s offer. “According to the process established by the court, the bankruptcy judge and the creditors will establish a price after reviewing all of the bids from qualified bidders. They could then establish an auction process amongst the qualified bidders or select a single bidder and pursue direct negotiations.”
Both the City of Atlanta and Pope & Land previously have tried to buy the Morris Brown property in separate deals. But both of the entities saw their negotiations with the College fall through.
Now the process has taken a more formal turn with the direct involvement of Jones Lang LaSalle and the bankruptcy court.
Zimmerman was asked about why Pope & Land was still interested in the Morris Brown land.
“Like the City of Atlanta, Pope & Land remains interested in the land because (we) believe that the area has great potential and that the Morris Brown piece could play a vital role in the overall long term revitalization of that area.”
The successful bidder for the Morris Brown land should be known by the end of May if all goes according to plan.