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August Wilson Center Granted Time For Financial Problems

Photo Credit: August WIlson Center for African American Culture

Photo Credit: August WIlson Center for African American Culture

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – An Allegheny County judge is giving all sides time to agree on someone who can run the August Wilson Center until its financial problems can be worked out.

Director Oliver Byrd, along with a lawyer for the August Wilson Center and others headed to the Frick Building this morning for a foreclosure hearing.

Dollar Bank foreclosed after the center fell $7 million behind in its mortgage.

The state attorney general also intervened, but today, asked Judge Lawrence O’Toole for more time because there is no agreement so far on a conservator who would oversee operations in the interim.

At today’s hearing, it was revealed the center property is worth about $18 million, but it owes about $12 million in debts.

Among those who attended today, former URA Director Mulu Birru, who was in on the original effort to build the center and who now hopes to come up with a plan to save it.

“I’m honestly very disappointed that it has not fulfilled its mission. But again, it wasn’t for lack of trying. I think the center was plagued by an $11 million mortgage before it opened. So, in principal for a cultural institution, it failed before it started,” Birru said.

So far, the only bright spot from his point of view is that no one involved is talking about liquidation.

“The bank’s interest is not to close it down and build a Walmart on that center. The bank is willing, eagerly willing, to work with everybody to make sure that the center survives. So, the bank really is a good player but they also have to be paid,” Birru said.

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