Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

North Hills Church Set to Rent Space at August Wilson Center

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

North Hills Church Set to Rent Space at August Wilson Center

Article excerpt

It might not be the answer to their prayers, but rent money from a North Hills church opening a second location in the August Wilson Center for African American Culture certainly couldn't hurt.

Starting this Sunday, Orchard Hill Church, an inter- denominational Christian community in Franklin Park, will hold weekly services at the financially troubled center on Liberty Avenue, Downtown.

"We are not the only answer to their financial problems, but we fully support their mission," said Kevin Cotter, Orchard Hill's business administrator.

Church officials said they've been charting plans to open a second location in the August Wilson Center for months, before the news late September that the institution is now facing foreclosure.

Dollar Bank is seeking to recover $7 million owed on the center's mortgage. And the Allegheny Regional Asset District announced this week that, for the first time in 15 years, it will not provide funding in its preliminary budget for the facility, citing the uncertainty over its future.

Oliver Byrd, the center's interim president and CEO, could not be reached. Privacy laws prohibit Dollar Bank from commenting, a bank spokesman said.

Board chairman Aaron Walton said the center has various rental agreements through 2014, and the arrangement with Orchard Hill is an appropriate and positive use of the building.

"We have made the center available to all aspects of the community, so this is another demonstration of the center trying to fulfill its mission," he said.

It wasn't clear how much Orchard Hill is paying the August Wilson Center in rent. Peter Sukernek, vice president and general manager at Howard Hanna Commercial Real Estate Services, said it could range from just covering expense of the space to "maybe a certain amount of money that does help the August Wilson Center."

"Anything you bring in is better than zero," he said.

Mr. Cotter said the building will serve as an ideal worship center, with seats for some 400 people close to the stage, giving the service an intimate feel. …

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