An 11th hour—plus 20 minutes—agreement between all the parties has resolved the dispute over ownership of the bankrupt August Wilson Center for African American Culture in favor of the consortium of foundations that sought to prevent hotel development on the center site.
The 980 Partners group, which had previously won tentative approval for its hotel project, with its $9.5 million bid, bowed out prior to a scheduled Sept. 29 trial before Judge Lawrence O’Toole on whether deed covenants prohibited the deal.
“We’ve said all along that preserving the mission of the center was one of our priorities, and in the end this seems to be the best way to help do that for the African-American community and the city,” said 980 Partners principal Matthew Shollar.
“We’re disappointed we couldn’t go ahead, but we’ve forged some good relationships and look forward to possible working together in the future.”
All parties: 980, the foundations, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the State Attorney General’s Office, court-appointed receiver Judith Fitzgerald, and Dollar Bank approved the agreement.
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto credits city, Allegheny County and foundation officials for the joint effort to save the center.
The deal would pay mortgage holder Dollar Bank $7.9 million and Fitzgerald and her team $590,000 for a total sales price of $8.49 million. No other creditors, including the URA, would be paid. All tax liens would also be forgiven.
It is not clear where the money will come from as the foundations’ highest bid—already augmented by the URA and unsourced county funds—was $7.2 million, $1.29 million less than the sale price.
The timeline requires the URA to pay the receiver $250,000 within five days and the Pittsburgh Foundation or its designee (NewCo—short for new company) to pay an additional $270,000 by Oct. 31. Should the deal fall through, Dollar Bank could foreclose and sell the center at a November sheriff’s sale.
(More in Wednesday’s print edition.)