Elected leaders, Tepper’s team avoid question over Rock Hill deal collapse

GT Real Estate Holdings, LLC was created in September 2019 in anticipation of Tepper’s Rock Hill headquarters project, which began in 2020.
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 7:43 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The bankruptcy filing by David Tepper’s real estate company, GT Real Estate Holdings, likely won’t impact the Panthers or David Tepper’s other ventures, but it will have an impact on Rock Hill. Other projects in support of the planned Panthers’ headquarters and practice facility have already been funded and are underway.

The future for this area is uncertain and everyone involved in the project is now staying silent and not answering WBTV’s questions.

Now there are emerging questions about when local government officials and elected leaders knew about the Chapter 11 filing. York County filed a notice of a lawsuit against GT Real Estate Holdings the same day the bankruptcy was submitted in Delaware.

Late Wednesday night, Panthers owner David Tepper’s real estate company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, signaling an end to the ambitious project that was rocky from the start.

“There were never going to realistically be concerts played here. There were never going to be big events here,” Dr. Victor Matheson told WBTV.

Matheson studies the economic impact of publicly funded sports projects and has been questioning the public investments from the start.

“Almost certainly that always leads to tears, and this is exactly what we’ve got here,” Matheson said.

Now the taxpayer investments already made are at risk. More than $80 million of state and federal tax dollars was committed to the new I-77 exit 81 project currently under construction.

South Carolina Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall told WBTV the project will continue and the need for an additional exit existed whether the new football headquarters was part of the plan or not. SCDOT’s application for a USDOT grant supports that traffic and existing businesses were already part of the equation, but the economic analysis was solely focused on the Panthers project.

“Even if the Panthers don’t develop, something else will develop on the property,” Hall said.

Major questions about the future of the property still remain.

GT Real Estate owns eight of the parcels that were part of the project. What happens to them in the bankruptcy proceedings remains to be seen.

WBTV asked these questions to a spokesperson for GT Real Estate. They declined to answer.

York County taxpayer money is also on the line. Bankruptcy records show York County is owed $21 million of taxpayer money for funds from the Pennies for Projects revenue stream that were committed to construction on Mount Gallant Rd.

In a statement, a York County spokesperson wrote they believe those funds will be returned with interest.

The same day Tepper’s real estate company filed Chapter 11, York County filed notice of a lawsuit over the money.

WBTV reached out to York County leaders to ask about whether the same-day filings were a coincidence or done in concert. Officials are refusing to comment beyond their original statement.

A source told WBTV that York County Councilmembers have been instructed by legal counsel not to talk to reporters.

WBTV also left messages for Rock Hill’s mayor and city manager and but neither returned the call to answer questions..

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