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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Alabama A&M University To Submit Second ‘Cash’ Offer To Purchase Birmingham-Southern Campus

Alabama A&M University will submit a second ‘cash’ offer to purchase the hilltop campus of now-closed Birmingham-Southern College later this month, says Shannon Reeves, AAMU’s vice president of government relations and external affairs.

“[The] cash offer will focus on eliminating the entire BSC debt (not just assuming debt payments),” Reeves confirmed in a text message to AL.com. “We intend for the land to be free, clear, and unencumbered of all debt.”

The respected 168-year-old institution on the city’s west side closed at the end of May after years of financial strain and failing to secure a bailout loan from the state legislature. (BSC did receive a $5 million loan from the City of Birmingham.) It is among numerous small, private colleges nationwide that have closed of late.

As we reported last month, A&M reportedly made a $52 million offer for the campus. Reeves would not disclose the amount of the second offer.

“Our Finance team is working on that and want to keep that private until BSC has had an opportunity to receive the offer and review it,” Reeves said. “The team is working on this every day and communicating with BSC on a regular basis to arrive at the right offer as fast as we can. Lots of considerations of a lot of people in this deal.”

Earlier this week, WBRC reported that Miles College in Fairfield had submitted a letter of intent to buy the 192-acre campus. Officials from Miles or BSC would not confirm the report.

“No HBCU in the state has ever been in a position to do such a large expansion because it’s complicated,” Reeves said. “So we just want to dial the transaction in right and be responsible about it as a state institution. We want to respect BSC and allow them the opportunity to keep the details private for a period of time as to not further complicate the deal.

“If our offer is accepted,” Reeves added, “we will operate the entire campus as an institution of higher learning and offer other services and various activities to the surrounding community.

“Our plan is to rehire as many credentialed employees back [as possible] and offer state health and retirement benefits. AAMU’s investment and operation as a university on that site will have a positive impact on neighborhood property values.

“AAMU will attract retail and other businesses to open on Arkadelphia [Road, which runs in front of the campus] and in the surrounding area.”

“Finally, AAMU will be the sole owner of the site and WILL NOT [Reeves’ emphasis] break the campus up in pieces to be used by private interests.”

The next meeting of the school’s Board of Trustees is on June 14.

Reeves said Board chair Dr. Roderick Watts and the board’s executive committee are “fully aware of our efforts.”

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