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 possibly 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.
A confidential side-deal was also forged to compensate 980 for the legal, consulting and engineering expenses it incurred since its plan was tentatively approved in the spring.
Though O’Toole’s courtroom was filled to capacity and beyond by representatives of various community and arts organizations—among them Esther Bush, Marimba Milliones, Mark Clayton Southers, Tim Stevens and Janera Solomon—the action took place in the hallway outside and in O’Toole’s chambers as lawyers scurried back and forth to put the finishing touches on the deal.