I think the state mental health department owns several thousand acres in Tuscaloosa County (mostly undeveloped rural land in assorted chunks).
Much of the current UA campus east of Hackberry Lane (and I think maybe even where Wings and Hampton Inn is) was originally Bryce property,
as well as the city's public golf course north of the river (Ol' Colony), plus there's that "haunted" building in Northport near the airport.
I echo this guy :
“I urge you to adopt an amendment to build a facility in this area, a state facility to look at the mentally ill, as we are required by the laws of the state, and not renege on our obligation and not dump it on the city of Tuscaloosa and the county of Tuscaloosa,” McArthur said.
There are some mentally ill people who need state help. They can't support themselves and in some cases present danger to themselves and others.
Some bureaucrats in other parts of the state want to "save state money" by simply dumping these poor folks on the street, at Tuscaloosa's expense .
By all means, any resolution to the Bryce situation should include a proper
facility for those who need it.
Although the $85 million price tag seems too steep in the current economic climate, I expect the university will find a way to purchase that land.
Rehabbing the "big building" is quite a challenge, but it and the state capitol in Montgomery were arguably the state's two largest buildings for many years, and with proper investment, could become a real showpiece.
An interesting follow-up to the Bryce situation is the future of Partlow Developmental Center, which itself is sitting on a 250-acre campus, with some state pressure to downsize.