Pittsburgh, County Join Foundations' Bid for August Wilson Center

Pittsburgh, County Join Foundations' Bid for August Wilson Center

A revised bid from a group of local foundations to buy the debt-ridden in Pittsburgh would include $2.2 million in taxpayer money, the reports.

Intended as a contingency plan should a tentatively approved sale of the center for $9.5 million to real estate development firm 980 Liberty Partners fall through, the bid by the , , and  was raised from $5 million to $7.2 million and made public in court documents last week. According to the documents, the additional $2.2 million comprises $1 million from Allegheny County and $1.2 million from the city's . URA chairman Kevin Acklin told the Tribune-Review the city's portion would come from "an existing undrawn funding commitment in place regarding the August Wilson Center."

"It's a community asset," said county executive Rich Fitzgerald. "There's over $30 million the public [and foundations] invested in there, and I think the mayor and I take that very seriously. We're protecting the public's interest in this process, and not just turning it over for a quick sale." To date, the foundations and the city, county, and state have poured more than $20 million in private funds and $17.4 million in public funds into the center, which opened in 2009 but closed in 2013 after accumulating $10 million in debt.

While the developer has said it would give the nonprofit center rent-free office and gallery space and the use of the performing arts center at least a hundred and twenty days a year — provided it pay a $1 or $2 surcharge per ticket sold — the city's redevelopment authority, Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto, and the foundations have questioned whether a planned ten-story hotel atop the boat-shaped building would take up too much of the space they want preserved as a "public asset."

"The foundation community as well as the public and other funding sources helped greatly in bringing the center into being in the first place," said Pittsburgh Foundation spokesperson John Ellis. "It has a vital purpose, and we want to preserve that."

Natasha Lindstrom. "." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 07/02/2014. Natasha Lindstrom. "." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 07/01/2014.