Union Trust Building heading for sheriff sale

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It looks like the Union Trust Building, one of Downtown's most distinctive properties, is headed for a sheriff sale.

In an order issued after a hearing Dec. 19 in Los Angeles, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sheri Bluebond lifted the stay that prevented lender SA Challenger from foreclosing on the 11-story architectural jewel built by industrialist Henry Clay Frick

In a separate order, Judge Bluebond also dismissed the bankruptcy case involving 501 Grant Street Partners, the building owner and debtor in the case. She also barred the debtor from filing another bankruptcy petition for 180 days.

She acted after 501 Grant Street Partners withdrew a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization without explanation two weeks ago.

Her orders appear to clear the way for the building, which is plagued by a high vacancy rate, to be sold at a sheriff sale. SA Challenger, which was assigned the building's mortgage by U.S. Bank, pushed to have the stay lifted so that it "may exercise its state law remedies against the property."

The building, which has fallen into a state of disrepair, was scheduled for a sheriff sale last January before several creditors forced the property owner into bankruptcy, halting the foreclosure. Sheriff sales have been postponed several times since then. The most sale had been postponed until Jan. 6, 2014, according to the Allegheny County sheriff's office.

However, it's not known whether Jan. 6 is an actual date for a sheriff sale. Neither attorneys for SA Challenger nor 501 Grant Street Partners could be reached for comment.

Opened in 1917, the Union Trust Building, a Flemish Gothic structure designed by architect Frederick J. Osterling, originally was the home to a four-story shopping arcade with 240 shops on the lower levels and 700 offices above.

Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.

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