A company owned by Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper will provide $82 million to resolve creditor claims related to the team’s failed headquarters project in Rock Hill, according to a written statement and court documents released Thursday morning.
The creditor claims result from GT Real Estate Holdings LLC filing for bankruptcy. GT Real Estate was formed by Tepper to build the Rock Hill project. GT Real Estate filed for bankruptcy in Delaware on June 1 after construction was halted over a money dispute. GT Real Estate was incorporated in Delaware.
The $82 million would come from DT Sports Holding LLC, another Tepper-owned company, GT Real Estate said in a press release issued Thursday.
If approved by a judge and creditors, the Tepper Company would raise the $82 million to resolve “eligible claims” made by contractors, York County and the city of Rock Hill, GT Real Estate said in the press release.
The $82 million would include $60.5 million in cash funded in a settlement fund to benefit contractors, subcontractors and unsecured creditors, GTRE said.
GTRE said it believes that amount would pay those creditors in full.
The plan calls for $21.165 million in cash to reimburse York County for the money it contributed to the project, GTRE said. York County has asked for $21 million plus interest.
The plan also calls for $20 million or more of available net proceeds — after remediation and priority claims — from property sales to make payments to the City of Rock Hill, GTRE said.
Rock Hill claims he is owed $20 million, court documents show.
“This plan reflects GTRE’s promise to expeditiously resolve all claims and make payments to its creditors, including York County and the City of Rock Hill,” GTRE said in the statement.
“GTRE now has a clear path to emerge from bankruptcy, made possible by significant commitments from DT Sports Holding, which provided GTRE with more than $82 million in cash to bring this process to an orderly and equitable conclusion bring to. GTRE believes the plan is in the best interests of its creditors and expects to hold a hearing to consider the plan’s approval in October this year.”
If a federal judge and creditors agree in the case, the GT plan could end a contentious legal battle for money. The bankruptcy and disputes over monetary debts to creditors have been ongoing since June. Construction work on the site stopped in March.
DT Sports Holding has already spent $20 million to fund the bankruptcy, court documents show.
“The devil is always in the details”
Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys was not quick to respond to GT Real Estate’s offer on Thursday.
Gettys told The Herald that city officials are aware of the offer and need the city’s legal department to review the details before making any decisions.
“The devil is always in the details,” said Gettys, a real estate attorney. “There has been a lot of talk by some over the last six or eight months and we are going to do what we have been doing all along and that has followed the contracts and terms.”
Regardless, Gettys said the city will do what is best for its taxpayers.
“We will do what is in the best interests of the people of Rock Hill, as we have done throughout the process, regardless of what is said publicly by other parties,” he said.
York County Councilman William “Bump” Roddey said it’s too early to call GTRE’s bid a win for the county, but it’s a step in the right direction.
“This is exciting news,” Roddey said. “It shows good intentions but it still needs to be approved and signed and checks need to be cut before we can celebrate this moment.”
Roddey, who represents the Rock Hill area, said he hoped, on behalf of the county’s taxpayers, that the bankruptcy court would go ahead with the plan.
“It might hurt some other contractors or creditors, but we’re here to obviously protect York County taxpayers first,” he said. “And if this plan goes ahead and gives us back our funds that were pledged for the road project, then we’re definitely in favor of it.”
General Contractor: Pleased to see progress being made
In bankruptcy court documents previously filed June 24, Mascaro/Barton Malow, the general contractor for the project, said he was owed approximately $80 million.
Michael Roeschenthaler, principal counsel for Mascaro/Barton Malow, said Thursday he was pleased that Tepper’s GTRE company’s filing shows progress in the bankruptcy process.
“We are pleased to see that there has been some progress in the case and look forward to working with the debtor to bring this case to an amicable conclusion,” Roeschenthaler said in an email sent to The Herald Explanation.
The failed project
Panthers officials and leaders from Rock Hill, York County and South Carolina said when the project was announced in 2020 that the headquarters would be a financial boon to Rock Hill, York County and South Carolina. It was to include the Panthers’ headquarters, the practice facility, and other sporting and entertainment purposes.
The property is located on more than 200 acres on Mount Gallant Road in Rock Hill near Interstate 77.
All of that ended when construction stopped and then bankruptcy was declared.
Since then, attorneys for Tepper companies, contractors, York County and Rock Hill have been fighting over the money in bankruptcy court and other courts. The attorneys have also argued where lawsuits should be heard and whether claims are valid.
GTRE said in a statement in April after construction halted that Rock Hill had failed to issue bonds or provide public infrastructure funding for the project.
Rock Hill officials have denied the city had to issue bonds for the project. City officials said in court documents the city can issue bonds but is not required to do so.
York County’s lawsuit is separate
Separate from the bankruptcy, a lawsuit filed by York County against three Tepper companies and the city of Rock Hill is pending in South Carolina federal court. This lawsuit is still pending.
The lawsuit alleges that Tepper’s companies — Appaloosa Management, Tepper Sports Holding and DT Sports Holding — misappropriated $21 million in county funds intended to be spent on road improvements. The county’s lawsuit also alleges that the City of Rock Hill breached a contract to issue bonds for the project.
Efforts Thursday to seek comment from York County officials and attorneys in the case were unsuccessful.
Check for updates again.
This story was originally published Aug 11, 2022 11:31 am.