The real estate company run by Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has filed for bankruptcy, Channel 9 has confirmed.
According to GT Real Estate Holdings, bankruptcy was filed in connection with the failed Rock Hill practice facility project.
The filing follows the termination and cancellation of the project agreement with the City of Rock Hill, which GTRE announced in April.
Construction of the practice facility halted earlier this year after Tepper Sports said the city had failed to pay for public infrastructure.
GT Real Estate Holdings released the following statement on the bankruptcy filing:
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“Over the past few weeks, GTRE has been faced with various claims, some valid and some not valid, from vendors, contractors and other third parties, including York County, SC. GTRE takes this measure to ensure that legitimate claims are dealt with in a court-supervised process as fairly and expeditiously as possible, and to achieve an orderly and safe execution of the project. GTRE intends to honor its legitimate obligations.”
That filing does not affect Tepper Sports, the Panthers or Charlotte FC, the real estate company said. The bankruptcy filing lists 17 claims, ranging from the main construction company demanding $27 million to a Myers Park interior designer demanding $1,600.
A bankruptcy attorney, who is not linked to the case, told Channel 9 the public should expect the now-closed practice site to be resolved more quickly as a result of this filing.
“This is a process that I think will help accelerate it, and whatever the project will be, ownership will be in the future,” said John Woodman. “This will help ensure that process starts at least much sooner rather than later.”
What will happen to the half-finished practice facility is still unclear at the moment.
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York County filed a lawsuit for $21 million from Tepper’s company. A county spokesman said it was for improvements to the Mount Gallant Road. The court documents say Tepper’s company disputes the claim.
A York County spokesman shared the following statement with Channel 9:
“GT Real Estate Holdings LLC (GTRE) filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday. GTRE is the company handling the acquisition and construction of the Carolina Panthers’ York County headquarters and practice facility on behalf of the Carolina Panthers organization and David Tepper.
“The York County government is listed as one of the creditors in the bankruptcy proceeding. GTRE entered into an agreement with York County to upgrade a section of Mt. Gallant Road adjacent to the headquarters/practice site. York County contributed $21 million to the Mt. Gallant project. We believe these monies will be returned in full with interest and county taxpayers will be protected. We were prepared for this action and fully expect a positive outcome for our citizens.”
Tepper, who has made billions from hedge funds, is the NFL’s richest owner. He has invested more than $175 million in the facility, which is located approximately 25 miles south of the team’s current downtown stadium and headquarters in Charlotte.
GTRE announced to The Associated Press in a statement late Wednesday night that it has initiated a court-led financial restructuring process in Delaware to secure an orderly winding-up of the project.
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GTRE also announced that it has received a $20 million commitment in funding from DT Sports Holding, LLC, subject to court approval, which will allow the company to fund and preserve litigation to address its legitimate creditor claims , protect and enhance the Rock Hill site for the benefit of all concerned.
The city of Rock Hill does not plan to issue a statement until it has had an opportunity to review Thursday’s bankruptcy filing, a city spokesman said.
The bankruptcy ends a bitter public dissent between Tepper and the city of Rock Hill.
“Everyone had high hopes for the Carolina Panthers to come here,” said Rock Hill Mayor Pro Tem Derrick Lindsay.
Meanwhile, Rock Hill residents wonder exactly how it got to this point.
“It’s just a billionaire’s ploy to avoid paying people,” said Charlie Ruffalo, owner of Sub Station II.
Ruffalo put this message on his signage: “The Tepper Sub: We stopped doing this halfway through.”
Ruffalo said the ordeal clouded his opinion of the Panthers.
“I want nothing to do with them right now and will continue to poke fun at the absurdity of this situation.”
Tepper’s company said it had been negotiating with the city for more than a year and warned it in March they had 30 days or the Panthers would pull out. They said in a statement in April it was “regrettable that some have recently decided to run a misguided, destructive public relations campaign to cover up their failures.”
Rock Hill officials responded to the announcement, saying the Panthers’ announcement was “misleading and false” and that they embraced the Panthers, welcomed their headquarters to South Carolina and “did everything possible to make this project a success, and in none of which are our duties defaulted.”
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“It has been and remains our intention to continue negotiations in good faith while protecting the interests of our taxpayers,” the City of Rock Hill said. “In fact, we’ve tried unsuccessfully to meet up with the Panthers several times over the past few weeks.”
The city also claimed that it had fulfilled all of its obligations under the agreement, but could not provide unlimited resources to the Panthers and needed to protect taxpayers.
The Panthers’ headquarters and practice facility were scheduled to be completed in 2023.
It’s unclear if Tepper will attempt to establish another practice in the future, and if so, where it will be.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(CLOCK BELOW: SC Gov. McMaster expresses disappointment when the Panthers’ Rock Hill practice facility projects were shelved.)