Despite objections from state Attorney general Kathleen Kane, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Judge Lawrence O’Toole has tentatively approved selling the August Wilson Center for African American Culture to a New York-based developer.
O’Toole signed an interim order May 27, allowing 980 Liberty Partners to conduct engineering studies to determine whether its plan to build a 200-room luxury hotel above the center is feasible.
The group bid $9.5 million for the bankrupt center—the only bid that would pay off its creditors including mortgage holder Dollar Bank.
The 980 Liberty Partners’ local representative Matthew Shollar said the plan would keep the center’s mission alive and would provide use of the theater and “significant gallery space” for at least 120 days of the year.
Several community groups and the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority favored a $4.5 million bid from a consortium of local foundations.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)