Bankrupt Morris Brown College has decided not to accept the City of Atlanta’s $10 million offer to the school. The college’s trustees decided against accepting taxpayer money that would have also eliminated its $35 million in debt.
The trustees had requested a $20 million bailout from the city in February. Anne Aaronson, a Philadelphia-based lawyer for the school, says the $10 million offer was insufficient and that Morris Brown has a better offer on the table, according to the AJC. Aaronson declined to give the paper any further details.
The Associated Press reports that the school is set to present its restructuring plan to a bankruptcy court by the end of the month.
“I believe I know how the movie ends,” said Mayor Kasim Reed, who reportedly offered the plan to Morris Brown. “The movie ends with that area looking like a swap meet. And I am not going to have it said that we should have done something.”
Reed’s interest in saving the school may largely be rooted in its location adjacent to the site of the proposed new Atlanta Falcons stadium. Reed said he’s worried the campus will be sold off in pieces and will become home to liquor stores, payday loan shops and other similar businesses.
Documents obtained by the AJC show that Reed and Invest Atlanta’s proposal would have given the school $9.7 million. The proposal would have purchased the 37.22 acres tied up in bankruptcy; paid the Morris Brown’s creditors; given the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which governs the school, $1 million in cash; paid $480,000 in back pay to professors and staff; allowed the school to rent the four buildings it still uses with an option to buy them back after three years; allowed Invest Atlanta to work with developers to redevelop the rest of the property.
Two-thirds of the money in the deal would have come from the Westside Tax Allocation District, and the rest would have come from the city’s general fund. Invest Atlanta and the City Council would have had to approve the deal.
“Giving Morris Brown an opportunity to become healthy again and . provide accredited degrees to its students was an essential priority for this administration,” Reed said.
The school proposed a $20 million bailout from the city in February. But that sum included operating expenses, and the city said it wasn’t interested in running the school and couldn’t do so legally.