Lon Morris auction continues today - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Lon Morris auction continues today

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The auction of Lon Morris College, the oldest junior college in Texas, began Monday. (Shannon Wilson/Staff) The auction of Lon Morris College, the oldest junior college in Texas, began Monday. (Shannon Wilson/Staff)
JACKSONVILLE (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - A Lon Morris College auction is slated to continue today as bankruptcy estate and auction representatives work to sell the school's assets.

Officials were scheduled to begin the auction at 11 a.m. Monday at the McKool Smith law firm in Dallas. They went home shortly before 7 p.m.

As of that time, Carl Carter, spokesman for AmeriBid, the company conducting the auction, said the company was not in a position to announce any buyers. However, he said he felt good about where things were and hoped to be able to announce something today.

Bidders could make offers on 16 groupings of college facilities and land in the auction, according to a news release.

Carter has said that essentially meant bidders could make offers specifically based on what they have a need for.

"What they've done is finally decide what chunk we're selling it in," he said earlier this month. "In other words, if we just offer all the property in its entirety, we limit bidders to those who have a need for all that. ... (But) by setting it out into 16 lots, then we open the way for somebody who is interested in" a particular asset.

Lon Morris filed for bankruptcy in July after its ongoing financial problems. In August, the college announced it would close.

Most classroom buildings, dormitories, the cafeteria and other facilities were set to sell as a single lot, which would grab the attention of bidders looking for a space for a college, AmeriBid President Stephen Karbelk has said in a news release.

He has said the Wilson Administration Center would sell either with the larger campus or as a one-building lot with surrounding land and parking.

Carter added, "I could see it as a branch office for a bank or a multitenant office building so it made sense to offer it as a (individual) unit."

Additionally, athletic facilities were part of several groupings, and several homes owned by Lon Morris were expected to sell individually, according to a news release.

Carter has said a YMCA or health club might have an interest in the gymnasium or a small church might want to have the chapel for a new facility.

Carter has said bidders would submit sealed bids on what they are interested in, and people will be able to bid a raise on existing offers.

In the end, the assets will be sold at "whatever brings the best price for the college," he has said.
Any sale is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court, and a confirmation hearing is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 4.

Not included in the auction was The Lodge, a student housing facility that opened in 2011 with a capacity for 114 students.

Jacksonville Public Works director Will Cole said The Lodge was leased to the college but its owner, Tilley LLC, now is working to convert it into an apartment complex.

The city council approved a zone change from "planned development" to "multifamily," paving the way for the project. Cole said he has received construction plans for converting dorm rooms mostly into one-bedroom apartments. Some will be two-bedroom apartments, he said.

Monday's auction proceedings are the latest action related to the Lon Morris bankruptcy estate.
The financially strapped institution filed a voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in July after bleeding millions of dollars since the 2007-08 school year, when college representatives said the school embarked on a costly plan to grow enrollment.

In August, the college learned it would lose federal student aid and subsequently decided to suspend the fall semester. Attorney Hugh Ray III, who represents the bankruptcy estate, has said that changed the nature of the case, which went from selling an operating facility to instead auctioning its assets as real estate.

Ray said last month that the estate is expecting a successful and profitable auction.

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