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Panthers’ project bankruptcy filing means bad news for businesses

The news churned up a plethora of different emotions for the city of Rock Hill and its stakeholders
The final blow for the Panthers project in Rock Hill was issued Wednesday night when David Tepper’s company GT Real Estate Holdings filed for chapter 11
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 6:34 PM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) -The final blow for the Panthers project in Rock Hill was issued Wednesday night when David Tepper’s company GT Real Estate Holdings filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company was created specifically for this project and the deal with the city of Rock Hill and York County. A statement from Tepper’s company says it is all an effort to “achieve the project’s orderly and safe wind down.”

The news churned up a plethora of different emotions for the city of Rock Hill and its stakeholders. With the fallout of this dead project comes the utter disappointment of people who had personal stake in this project.

Related: Owner dodges questions on Eastland, Rock Hill and Uptown District as hints about stadium renovations emerge

While many York County and Rock Hill officials have kept their lips sealed on this matter, State House Representative Gary Simrill says he is “Disappointed in this latest action from GTRE.”

Simrill was a champion for this project and played a huge part in guiding legislation through to get the Panthers to the Rock Hill area. Then there are the land owners who actually sold the land to David Tepper’s company GT Real Estate to get this project rolling.

Back in March, the Hutchinson family told our media partners CN2 they wanted the quote “county, the city and even the state to drop down walls and get together to make this work. Our media partners have reached out for a reaction now that this project is dead.

And then there are the business owners. There was a lot at stake for many other people including business owners in the area who rolled the dice hoping to score on this major project.

”There was a risk,” says Nick Penaloza, who owns Forte Legato on Anderson Road.

He knew in 2020 it was a gamble to be the first tenants in this space, but the rumor mill of the Panthers coming to town was just too good to pass up on. The space he bought for his shop is just around the corner from the would-be facility.

”We were hoping to be a huge part of the community next to the Panthers,” says Penazola.

Since March, Penaloza has been hoping for a hail mary. When the stall was announced, there was some anxiousness but still hope that all the parties could come together to work something out. The latest bankruptcy news killing the project for good dashed those hopes.

”I would say we are a little disappointed because we had a lot of expectations and hopes. And so did the rest of Rock Hill,” he says.

The expectation was foot traffic from players, workers and even fans. Penaloza says they estimated a projected revenue of $1200-$1800 a day from the facility being just a skip away. Now, that money is going to have to come from elsewhere.

”We’ve had some other people come in here really excited saying wow it’s going to be really cool to have the Panthers next door. We might see some players coming in. We might see some of the staff and we were hoping to support that. But uhh yeah now we’re not doing that anymore,” he explains. “That would have generated many more tickets for this store on a daily basis.”>

Penazola is having to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new game plan to make up for that lost revenue they projected. Because this just happened yesterday, he does not have plans just yet but is working diligently on them.

”I’m nervous because we wanted that volume but at the same time, we’re pretty diversified. We have other strategies that we can leverage,” he says.

So while the goals have changed, he says the vision has not and this coffee shop is here to stay.

”The goal here going forward is still to be a part of the community. To be a place where people can study or meet their friends and get a nice cup of coffee,” he says.

WBTV will continue to push for answers from all sides including the city of Rock Hill’s city council. A city of Rock Hill spokesperson says they have chosen not to issue a statement on the bankruptcy. The city is citing its April 19th statement saying it would not engage in a public back and forth.

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