Clark Atlanta sues city of Atlanta over disputed Morris Brown property

Clark Atlanta University has filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta claiming the school has long-standing property rights over a portion of land the city recently bought from Morris Brown College.

The suit, filed Sept. 5 in Fulton County Superior Court, claims that the sale to the city triggered a provision in a decades-old agreement with Morris Brown that requires the property to revert to Clark Atlanta if it is no longer used for educational purposes.

In June, a federal bankruptcy court judge approved the $14.6 million sale of most of Morris Brown’s land interests to Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development authority, and Friendship Baptist Church. The financially struggling college had filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and was facing about $30 million in debts. The deal was finalized Aug. 29.

Clark Atlanta University objected to the sale, citing the existing agreement between the schools. Despite approving the sale, the bankruptcy judge said Clark Atlanta could pursue litigation in state court to determine its interests in the disputed land.

Mayor Kasim Reed’s office said it would not comment on pending litigation.

Questions sent to Clark Atlanta’s attorneys were not answered. Officials with Friendship Baptist recently announced a plan to develop about 22 acres near the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, including some land that formerly belonged to Morris Brown, according to a story in Atlanta Business Chronicle. The city has not announced its plans for the land, but Clark Atlanta “continues to invite the opportunity to collaborate in a manner that protects the integrity of its interest in the property … to ensure the property continues to provide educational opportunity to a segment of the population historically denied that opportunity,” Clark Atlanta said in an emailed statement.

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