ATLANTA — The City of Atlanta has lost its final bid in a university land dispute that may cost taxpayers more than $20 million.
This month, the state Supreme Court ruled against the city, requiring it to return 13 acres of premium property that sits near Mercedes-Benz Stadium to its rightful owner, Clark Atlanta University.
The move ends a four-year legal battle with CAU, which sued the city several years ago, and records reveal costly expenditures and demands related to the sale.
Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development arm, acquired the land in 2014 in a $14 million transaction with a bankrupt Morris Brown College. The school used the money to dig out of financial woes, while the city began major development plans, including the new stadium.
But a portion of the purchase was in question from the start. A 1940 deed outlined Morris Brown’s obligation to return the 13 acres around the historic Gaines Hall and Herndon Stadium back to Clark Atlanta because the land was no longer being used for educational purposes.
In an October 2017 interview, then-Mayor Kasim Reed told Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr that the city wasn't convinced the deed was valid.
“You know there were differing opinions at the time,” Reed said. “It wasn’t as clear that a letter agreement would be binding over all of those years.”
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