August Wilson Center for African American Culture

PITTSBURGH (AP) – A creditor is asking a western Pennsylvania judge to allow it to foreclose on the bankrupt August Wilson Center for African American Culture if a deal to sell the building to a New York developer isn’t finalized by the end of next month.

Dollar Bank wants the Allegheny County Court’s decision to allow foreclosure if the $9.5 million sale to 980 Liberty Partners isn’t completed by June 30, citing opposition by a city agency.

The Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority and state attorney general have argued that the proposed sale would violate deed covenants that require that the building be used as a center for African-American culture and bar changes to the exterior without the development authority’s approval.

The bank, which is owed at least $7 million of the center’s $10 million in debt, said such arguments are “calculated to force a foreclosure sale of the center’s assets.”

The motion Thursday came two days after an interim order was granted giving the developer 60 days to study whether putting a 200-room hotel on top of the downtown Pittsburgh building is feasible and 10 more days to prove that it has the money for the purchase.

The center named in honor of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright opened in 2009 and hosted jazz concerts, dance, films and other cultural events, but was hampered by construction costs and poor attendance.

The development authority favors a lower bid submitted by the several foundations, and the attorney general also said they were the only bidder committed “to continuing the mission of African-American culture” in compliance with the covenants. The foundations withdrew their bid, saying it was clear that the highest offer was favored, but the mayor and county executive have urged them to remain in contention.

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