Morris Brown starts over – looks for new buyer after Pope & Land deal fails
By Douglas Sams of the Atlanta Business Chronicle and Maria Saporta
Morris Brown College wants to put most of its historic 35-acre Atlanta campus on the market.
The move comes after an attempt to reach an agreement between Morris Brown and Atlanta developer Pope & Land Enterprises Inc. appears to have fallen through. Read the full documents regarding the sale.
The campus is near one of Atlanta’s most ambitious projects — a more than $1 billion stadium for the Atlanta Falcons.
Morris Brown is just west of the Falcons stadium site at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Northside Drive, and the future of the campus will be at the center of discussions about how the entire area is redeveloped.
Morris Brown, which is trying to claw its way out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, inked an agreement with Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. to assist with “the disposition of the campus and the retention of a portion of the campus for its continued operations …” according to documents filed in the federal bankruptcy court in Atlanta.
A March 6 hearing is scheduled in federal bankruptcy court, where a judge will be asked to approve the hiring of Jones Lang LaSalle.
Morris Brown, a private liberal arts school, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2012 to prevent the campus from going into foreclosure. It owed an estimated $30 million to multiple creditors. It has been working on several different reorganization plans ever since.
The college is woven into the fabric of Atlanta’s history, with roots in the city that date back to the late 1800s. It was founded by members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and named in honor of Rev. Morris Brown, the second bishop of the AME Church.
Morris Brown lost its accreditation and federal funding in 2002 due to financial mismanagement and misuse of federal grants for student loans. The United Negro College Fund later terminated its relationship with Morris Brown, and it was dropped as one of the institutions of the Atlanta University Center.
Since then, Morris Brown has been operating with a skeletal staff and faculty teaching about three dozen students.