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Sheriff's sale of Union Trust Building postponed to March 4

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By Sam Spatter
Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, 12:16 p.m.

The Allegheny County Sheriff's Department on Monday postponed a sheriff's sale of the Union Trust Building, Downtown, until March 4.

Cohen & Grisby, the Pittsburgh law firm representing Bank of America, requested the delay because creditors in California made an involuntary bankruptcy filing on the property, said Sgt. Richard Fersch of the sheriff's office.

The filing identifies the creditors as Gertrude Fox, wife of Gerson Fox, an owner of 501 Grant Street Partners, which owns the 11-story building; Cost Construction Co. of Pittsburgh; and Allied Baron Security Services LLC of Pittsburgh. Fox listed a $100,000 claim on money loaned. Cost has a $5,900 claim; Allied Barton, one for $960.96.

Fersch conducts monthly sheriff's sales, typically on the first Monday.

“The next step could be the results of a Feb. 13 hearing by the U.S. Bankrupcy Court in Los Angeles to name a trustee,” he said.

Bank of America, through subsidiary SA Challenger Inc. of California, sought to foreclose on the building, which is more than 60 percent vacant. Siemens, its major tenant, attempted unsuccessfully to reduce its space there.

Gerson Fox and partner Michael Kamen owe $41.43 million in mortgage payments to Bank of America, which has tried to foreclose for nearly a year.

A sheriff's sale was scheduled because Bankruptcy Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald in Pittsburgh dismissed a petition the partners filed in August for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Earlier, Common Pleas Judge Christine Ward named Jeffrey Ackerman of CBRE Inc. as servicer for the building. The California court scheduled a hearing Thursday to determine whether to appoint a new receiver. Ackerman declined to comment about the receivership.

Kamen and Fox, through Mika Realty Trust of Los Angeles, in 2008 paid $24.1 million for the building that industrialist Henry Clay Frick built as a retail arcade. It later became an office building.

Sam Spatter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7843 or

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