The Tepper Sports & Entertainment-controlled real estate holding that was building the Carolina Panthers Rock Hill headquarters project has filed for bankruptcy protection.
The bankruptcy papers, filed Wednesday in Delaware, say the stalled project is unlikely to resume, and they could be the first step in a protracted legal battle over who is responsible for shutting down the project.
The bankruptcy filing was filed by a company known as GT Real Estate Holdings and listed an address at 800 Mint St. in Charlotte, which is the address of Bank of America Stadium. It says GT Real Estate Holdings is owned by DT Sports Holding, which in turn is owned by a company called Tepper Sports Holding. The name of Panthers owner David Tepper is not on the document.
GT Real Estate Holdings announced the move Wednesday evening.
What filing for bankruptcy does: Bankruptcies allow businesses to reorganize their finances and provide an orderly way to pay creditors when a business runs out of money to pay them all. It can also be a sophisticated legal move, as a bankruptcy filing takes precedence over civil lawsuits – which seems likely in the wake of this Rock Hill mess.
There, the real estate company controlled by Tepper had begun construction of a huge headquarters and training center. But work stalled in March: Tepper’s companies blamed Rock Hill for not issuing bonds for the project’s infrastructure, while Rock Hill said it had fulfilled its obligations. Some of the buildings were already rising when work stopped, and the Tepper organization said it had already spent $170 million on the project, which received economic incentives from the state of South Carolina.
In a statement, GT Real Estate Holdings said it had “entered into a court-directed financial restructuring process,” according to the Charlotte Business Journal, and added:
Over the past few weeks, GTRE has faced a variety of claims, some valid and some not, from suppliers, contractors and other third parties, including York County, SC. GTRE is taking this step to ensure that legitimate claims are dealt with as fairly and expeditiously as possible in a court-supervised process, and to bring about the orderly and safe termination of the project. GTRE intends to resolve its legitimate obligations.
He said the other Tepper companies “are unaffected by the filing and will continue to operate their businesses without disruption to customers, suppliers, partners and employees.”
It seems odd that a company controlled by the NFL’s wealthiest owner is filing for bankruptcy protection. Forbes puts Tepper’s net worth at nearly $17 billion. But real estate companies often set up separate companies and can keep their business and finances separate.
Among the creditors listed in bankruptcy files are:
- Mascaro/Barton Malow ($27 million)
- York County ($21 million)
- Populous Architecture ($785,000)
- Terracon Consultants ($212,000)
- Land design ($207,000)
- Duke Energy ($108,000)
Read more: You can read the bankruptcy filing here.
This story first appeared in Charlotte Ledger’s Business Newsletter and has been republished with permission.