Clark Atlanta Wins Land Dispute Lawsuit Over Invest Atlanta

A ruling this week upheld a clause in a 1940 agreement that ownership of the 13-acre parcel would revert back to Clark Atlanta University if Morris Brown College ceased using the property for educational purposes.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE
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The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that Clark Atlanta University should regain 13 acres deeded to Morris Brown College more than 75 years ago.


The court’s Monday ruling upheld a clause in the 1940 agreement between the two Atlanta higher education institutions that ownership would revert back to Clark Atlanta if Morris Brown ceased using the property for educational purposes, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.


Morris Brown filed for bankruptcy in 2012, facing $30 million in debts. The school sold most of its campus properties to the Atlanta Development Authority, now known as Invest Atlanta, and Friendship Baptist Church to regain financial standing and academic accreditation.


In 2014, the college sold the 13-acre parcel along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to Invest Atlanta, which leased the property back to the college. The sale led to Clark Atlanta’s lawsuit against Invest Atlanta.


Invest Atlanta argued that last year’s ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court upholding the lawsuit didn’t consider the effect of the lease’s allowance of Morris Brown’s continued use of the property. The appeals court ruled the college’s lease was of no value or importance.


Clark Atlanta president Ronald A. Johnson expressed happiness with the ruling, and said he will discuss what should be done with the property with board members.


The land includes a former home of W.E.B. Du Bois and Morris Brown’s president’s house.


Correction: An earlier version of this Associated Press report had a headline that incorrectly stated that Clark Atlanta’s lawsuit was against Morris Brown. Clark Atlanta’s lawsuit was actually against Invest Atlanta. The headline and the story have been updated.