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David Tepper's real estate company for Panthers' Rock Hill project files for bankruptcy

The Carolina Panthers' construction project in Rock Hill, South Carolina, is seen in an undated photo posted by the team to its website.
Lester Barnes III
Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers' construction project in Rock Hill, South Carolina, is seen in an undated photo posted by the team to its website.

The real estate holding company controlled by Tepper Sports & Entertainment that was building the Carolina Panthers’ Rock Hill headquarters project has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The bankruptcy papers, filed Wednesday in Delaware, are a signal that the stalled project is unlikely to resume, and they could be the first move in an extended legal battle over who is responsible for the halting of the project.

The bankruptcy filing was 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. Panthers’ owner David Tepper’s name is not on the document.

GT Real Estate Holdings announced the move late Wednesday. 

What bankruptcy filing does: Bankruptcies allow companies to reorganize their finances and provide an orderly way of paying creditors when a company lacks the money to pay them all. It can also be a sophisticated legal move, because a bankruptcy filing takes priority over civil lawsuits — which seem likely in the wake of this mess in Rock Hill.

There, the real estate company controlled by Tepper had started construction on a huge headquarters and practice facility. But work stopped in March: Tepper’s companies blamed Rock Hill for not issuing bonds for infrastructure for the project, while Rock Hill said it has met its obligations. Some of the buildings were already coming out of the ground when work stopped, and the Tepper organization said it had already spent $170M on the project, which received economic incentives from the state of South Carolina.

In a statement, GT Real Estate Holdings said it “has begun a court-led financial restructuring process,” according to the Charlotte Business Journal, and added:

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.

It said other Tepper companies “are unaffected by the filing and will continue to operate its business without interruption to customers, vendors, partners and employees.”

It seems odd to have a company controlled by the NFL’s wealthiest owner file for bankruptcy protection. Forbes puts Tepper’s net worth at nearly $17B. But real estate companies often set up separate companies and can keep their affairs and finances separate.

Among the creditors listed in the bankruptcy filings 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 the Charlotte Ledger business newsletter and was republished with permission.

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