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Top Headlines: UM to Purchase 12 Acres Within Campus For $12 Million


A small park on University land across from the law center connects to the eastern edge of the property.

The University of Mississippi plans to spend $12 million to add about 12 acres of land on the western edge of its campus adjacent to the Ole Miss Softball complex and Village Family Apartments (formerly Married Student Housing).

Outline of property owned by Oxford lawyer John Dunbar and his wife, Martha. (Screenshot of Map accessed via http://lafayette.tscmaps.com/) Click to enlarge
Outline of property owned by Oxford lawyer John Dunbar and his wife, Martha. (Screenshot of county land records map accessed via http://lafayette.tscmaps.com/)
Click to enlarge.
Screenshot of Google Earth view of Dunbar property approximately outlined.
Screenshot of Google Earth view of Dunbar property approximately outlined. Click to enlarge.

According to the online records for May 2016, the Institute of Higher Learning of Mississippi (IHL) approved the purchase of “approximately 12.02 acres of land located at 100 Davidson Lane from John and Martha Dunbar” through the university’s Educational Building Corporation (UMEBC) for $12 million.

According to IHL’s April 21, 2016, Board Working File, the university wants to purchase the property due to it being surrounded by the university on three borders. The university finds the property “critical to the long range plans of the university due to its location to campus.”

The entrance to Dunbar property as seen from Davidson Lane.
The entrance to Dunbar property as seen from Davidson Lane.

According to the Lafayette County Chancery Court’s land records, Oxford lawyer John Dunbar and his wife, Martha Dunbar, own the 11.7-acre property. The land is located at 100 Davidson Lane near the intersection with Hathorne Road. To the south of the property is the University of Mississippi softball complex and the Robert C. Khayat Law Center is located to the east of the property.

Located down a long, tree-shaded driveway, the idyllic property has a 1.5-acre pond on it. The Village Family Apartments which are located within sight of the Robert C. Khayat Law Center.

Dunbar declined to comment on the plan to purchase the property. His father, Jack F. Dunbar, shared a legend on the property.

The street marker near Dunbar property.
The street marker near Dunbar property.

According to Jack Dunbar, legend has it that the former Ole Miss assistant football coach J.W. “Wobble” Davidson and his wife Sara bought it in the 1960s with “bowl money.” The Ole Miss football team had won 18 straight bowl games and football coaches received bonuses for bowl wins. Legend also has it that the dogwood trees on the property were planted by the baseball team.

Wobble Davidson and his wife Sara sold it around 1980 to a law school faculty member named Bob Travis who had it for two years before selling it to Jack Dunbar who owned the property from 1982 to 2000 when he gave it to his son, John Dunbar.

According to the online records, the first appraisal was $12,020,000 and the second appraisal was $12,500,000. The average of the two appraisals was $12,260,000 which is more than the university’s proposed price.

Village Family Apartments are within eyesight of the Dunbar property.
Village Family Apartments are within eyesight of the Dunbar property.

Last Thursday, IHL approved the university’s plan to make a $2.5 million cash payment and then UMEBC will finance to cover the remaining $9.5 million. For the next decade, the university will pay back the UMEBC before directly owning the land by 2026. Internal funds will be used to cover both initial payment and future debt service.

According to the online records, the closing of sale shall be held on or before May 27, 2016, unless both parties agree to a later date. If the seller, John Dunbar, closes the deal, he must vacate the property by August 1, 2016.

The University of Mississippi’s Department of Communications has been reached for a comment but has not replied yet.


Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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