Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Judge Approves Deal for Hill House Association to Sell off Some Assets

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Judge Approves Deal for Hill House Association to Sell off Some Assets

Article excerpt

Hill House Association has moved one step closer to dissolving its operations after a court ruling approving the sale of four of its Hill District properties - including its headquarters on Centre Avenue.

The cash-strapped social services agency must use nearly $5 million in expected proceeds from the sale to pay down debt, according to a ruling Thursday by Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael McCarthy.

In a separate ruling, the judge said Hill House must also submit details of how it spent $500,000 it received earlier this year from the Greater Hill District Development Growth Fund.

The fund provided Hill House with $125,000 a month from January through April to help keep it afloat after the association revealed debts totaling nearly $12 million that it had accrued mainly through real estate investments, including the shuttered Shop 'n Save grocery store in the Hill District.

The matter ended up in court because elected officials who represent the Hill District - city Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, state Rep. Jake Wheatley and county Councilman DeWitt Walton - in December filed suit to block Hill House's proposed sale of some assets, saying the nonprofit didn't conduct an open process that involved the community.

Those officials also asked the court to order Hill House to disclose how it spent the $500,000 from the Growth Fund as a condition of selling its properties.

In addition to its headquarters site, the court-approved deal allows Hill House to sell One Hope Square, an office-retail center, and a building leased by Family Dollar, both on Centre Avenue; and the Blakey Program Center on Wylie Avenue.

Judge McCarthy said "time is of the essence" in closing the sale by June 28 so Hill House can pay off debts and seek disposal of three other properties it owns in the Hill District.

The buyer of the four properties - a partnership of Lawrenceville real estate firm E Properties&Development and the Hill Community Development Corp. - has agreed to pay $4.9 million.

Their proposed plans include renovating Hill House's headquarters and leasing space to tenants that would continue providing social services for the neighborhood. …

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