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November 06, 2014

After a Few Bumps, Foundations Buy Pittsburgh Arts Center

Two days after being purchased at a sheriff's auction by a bank for less than $2,000, Pittsburgh's August Wilson Center for African American Culture was sold Wednesday to a philanthropic consortium for $7.9-million, seemingly securing its future as an arts venue, writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Pittsburgh Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, and the Richard King Mellon Foundation had hammered out a deal in September to take control of the center, which has struggled financially since opening in 2009 and went into receivership last year. That sale, set to close last week, was held up when a creditor of the center appealed a judge's approval of the deal, leading to Monday's auction sale to Dollar Bank, which held the delinquent mortgage on the property.

The three philanthropies put up $5.3-million for the deal, with most of the rest coming from Pittsburgh and Allegheny County development agencies. The foundations had strongly opposed prior plans to sell the center to a private firm that intended to add a hotel at the site.