Potential August Wilson Center developer gets extension

The New York development company seeking to buy the August Wilson Center for African American Culture Downtown is getting more time to complete its due diligence on the property.

Developer 980 Liberty Partners is exercising an option in its agreement to buy the center to extend the due diligence period another 60 days.To get the extension, it must deposit $10,000 in an escrow account set up as part of the proposed sale.

The extension will give 980 Liberty until September 24 to complete its due diligence.

"We're deeply involved in putting everything together. It's a long process, not made shorter by all the other things going on," said Matthew Shollar, a 980 Liberty partner, in explaining the need for the extra time.

He stressed that 980 Liberty is still committed to completing the purchase. The developer is proposing to build a 200-room luxury hotel on top of the center while providing limited free space as well as use of the theater at a nominal fee for the continuation of the August Wilson Center.

"We wouldn't continue the process if we weren't confident that everything would get done in the end," Mr. Shollar said.

Court-appointed conservator Judith Fitzgerald is recommending the sale to 980 Liberty, which has bid $9.5 million for the property. The $40 million building was put up for sale by Ms. Fitzgerald after the August Wilson Center defaulted on its $7.9 million mortgage with Dollar Bank. The proceeds from the sale would be used to pay off the bank and other debts.

The city Urban Redevelopment Authority, Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald oppose the sale to 980 Liberty. They favor a lower $7.2 million bid advanced by three local foundations. The URA is putting $1.2 million into that bid and a county-related entity is adding another $1 million. The URA has been trying to block the sale to 980 Liberty in court.

First Published July 30, 2014 12:00 AM

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