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August Wilson Center creditor firm on end date of financial support

| Monday, May 5, 2014, 11:14 p.m.

Dollar Bank objects to giving more money to the August Wilson Center for African American Culture after June 30, unless the bank gets assurance that the debt-ridden facility will be sold by Nov. 30, according to court documents filed on Monday.

The bank is paying the center's bills and expenses until then, under an agreement approved by an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge. The center's receiver, retired bankruptcy judge Judith K. Fitzgerald, wants the end date to be extended. She could not be reached for comment.

“There's no change in position,” said Eric Schaffer, attorney for Dollar Bank.

The bank said it paid the center nearly $167,000 as of April 10.

Also on Monday, the attorney general's office shed some light on why it opposes a proposed sale of the center to 980 Liberty Partners of New York for $9.5 million.

The office contends that restrictive covenants on the property limit its use to that of a center for black culture. It asked the court for time to ensure the center's mission is preserved.

Dollar Bank said it does not object to a sale to Liberty Partners. The developer would build a hotel atop the building and let the center keep its gallery, offices and storage space. The center could use the theater for up to 120 days or nights a year, for a nominal sum.

Dollar Bank sought to foreclose on the center last year when the facility failed to pay its mortgage and insurance. The center owes about $10 million to creditors, including nearly $7.7 million in mortgage payments.

Fitzgerald was appointed conservator — at first to save the center, and then as liquidator to sell its property when she could not find a group willing to help pay costs.

Bill Zlatos is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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