David Tepper’s real estate company files for bankruptcy over Panthers practice facility

The real estate company led by Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has filed for bankruptcy, Channel 9 has confirmed.

GT Real Estate Holdings said the bankruptcy was filed in connection with the failed practice facility project in Rock Hill.

The filing comes after the termination and rescission of the project’s agreement with the City of Rock Hill, which GTRE announced in April.

Construction stopped on the practice facility earlier this year after Tepper Sports said the city failed to pay for public infrastructure.

GT Real Estate Holdings released the following statement on the bankruptcy filing:

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“In recent weeks, GTRE has been confronted with various claims, some valid and some not, from vendors, contractors and other third parties, including York County, SC. GTRE is taking this action to ensure legitimate claims are processed as fairly and expeditiously as possible under a court-supervised process, and to achieve the project’s orderly and safe wind-down. GTRE intends to resolve its legitimate obligations.”

This filing does not affect Tepper Sports, the Panthers or Charlotte FC, the real estate company said. The bankruptcy filings list 17 claims ranging from the main construction company seeking $27 million to a Myers Park interior designer seeking $1,600.

A bankruptcy attorney who is not associated with this case told Channel 9 the public should expect the now-defunct practice facility site to be resolved faster as a result of this filing.

“This is a process in which I think that will help expedite and whatever the project is going to be, property is going to be, you know, in the future,” John Woodman said. “This will help that process at least start a lot sooner rather than later.”

It’s unclear at this point what will happen to the half-built practice facility.

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York County filed a claim for $21 million from Tepper’s company. A spokesperson for the county said it is for the improvements made to Mount Gallant Road. The court documents state Tepper’s company disputes the claim.

A spokesperson for York County shared the following statement with Channel 9:

“On Wednesday, GT Real Estate Holdings LLC, (GTRE) filed for bankruptcy protection. GTRE is the entity handling the acquisition and construction of the Carolina Panthers’ headquarters and practice facility in York County on behalf of the Carolina Panthers organization and David Tepper.

“York County Government is listed as one of the creditors in the bankruptcy action. GTRE entered into an agreement with York County to upgrade a section of Mt. Gallant Road, which borders the headquarters/practice facility property. York County contributed $21 million toward the Mt. Gallant project. We believe those funds will be returned in full with interest, and County taxpayers are protected. We were prepared for this action, and fully expect a positive outcome for our citizens.”

Tepper, who made billions in hedge funds, is the NFL’s wealthiest owner. He has invested more than $175 million into the facility, which is located about 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 begun a court-led financial restructuring process in Delaware to effect an orderly wind-down of the project.

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GTRE also announced that it has received a commitment for $20 million in financing from DT Sports Holding, LLC, subject to court approval, which will allow the company to fund a process to address its legitimate creditor claims, as well as to preserve, protect and enhance the Rock Hill site for the benefit of all stakeholders.

The City of Rock Hill does not plan to make a statement until it has had a chance to review the bankruptcy filing Thursday, a city spokesperson said.

The bankruptcy ends a bitter back-and-forth public disagreement between Tepper and the city of Rock Hill.

“Everybody had their hopes high on the Carolina Panthers coming here,” Rock Hill Mayor Pro Tem Derrick Lindsay said.

In the meantime, Rock Hill residents are left wondering how exactly it got to this point.

“That’s just a billionaire’s ploy to get out of paying the people,” said Charlie Ruffalo, owner at Sub Station II.

Ruffalo put up this message on his sign advertising, “The Tepper Sub: We quit on it halfway through.”

Ruffalo said the ordeal has soured his opinion on the Panthers.

“I want nothing to do with them right now, and I will keep poking fun of the absurdity of this situation.”

Tepper’s company said it negotiated with the city for more than a year, warning them in March they had 30 days or the Panthers would pull out. They said in a statement in April that is “unfortunate that some recently decided to conduct a misguided, destructive public relations campaign to obscure their failures.”

Rock Hill officials responded to the announcement, saying the Panthers’ announcement was “misleading and erroneous” and that they embraced the Panthers, welcomed their headquarters to South Carolina, and “did everything to make this project a success and has not defaulted on any of our obligations.”

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“It was and remains our intention to continue negotiating in good faith while protecting the interests of our taxpayers,” the City of Rock Hill had said. “In fact, in the past few weeks we have attempted to meet with the Panthers on numerous occasions to no avail.”

The city also claimed that it had met all obligations required under the agreement, but could not provide the Panthers unlimited resources and had to protect taxpayers.

The Panthers’ headquarters and practice facility had been expected to be completed in 2023.

It is unclear if Tepper will attempt to build another practice in the future and, if so, where that will be.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(WATCH BELOW: SC Gov. McMaster expresses disappointment as Panthers’ practice facility projects halted in Rock Hill)