Panthers terminating agreement with city of Rock Hill for new facility

ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) – The partnership between the city of Rock Hill and GT Real Estate, the agency behind the new Carolina Panthers headquarters and practice facility, has dissolved, according to a GTRE spokesperson.

The announcement came Tuesday, April 19, nearly two years since renderings of the $800 million facility were released.

The full statement from GTRE is below:

“On February 26, 2021, the City of Rock Hill became delinquent on their obligation to fund the public infrastructure. Despite our persistent efforts throughout 2021, the City of Rock Hill failed to issue the bonds or provide the funding for the public infrastructure for the project.

On March 18, 2022, GTRE issued a default notice and the City did not cure its default within the prescribed 30-day cure period. It is unfortunate that some recently decided to conduct a misguided, destructive public relations campaign to obscure their failures.

We have sent notices to the City to formally terminate the previous agreements. Accordingly, we are prepared to sit down with the City and other interested parties to discuss the significant challenges ahead.”

The announcement came Tuesday, April 19, nearly two years since renderings of the $800 million facility were released.

Related: Panthers practice stadium put on hold a month ago, still no signs project could restart

Panthers owner David Tepper announced March 7 he would halt the project due to financing issues with Rock Hill. WBTV learned the city failed to issue its bond, which was due at the end of February and the extended date from the original 2019 deal.

A new financial deal came on March 21 after York County Council passed a resolution introducing a new, tax-free plan.

Rock Hill supported the plan with its own resolution.

Related: Rock Hill, SC leaders accept county’s financial plan to keep Panthers facility on track

Businesses also impacted by decision

The decision by the Panthers is also impacting business owners in the area. Less than a mile from the construction site is Forte Legato Coffee.

Owner Nick Penaloza says they opened the location in February 2020 with the Panthers new facility in mind.

”We were really hoping that you know, between, players that were coming to practice or people that were working in the facilities, whether it’s marketing or you know, anybody that worked there, they’d be able to come over for a quick lunch or an early morning coffee,” he said.

Rock Hill supported the plan with its own resolution.

Now, it’s back to the drawing board for this small business owner.

”As a small business owner, we have to pivot. So to me, it’s just like COVID. I’m going to take my business, find new ways to get revenue streams. And then from there, hopefully, we’ll be able to still cater to the community and be able to open up and offer different things, but at the same time, it’s frustrating,” Penaloza added.

Whether the Panthers call Rock Hill home or not, he says they’re staying in the community.

“You know, we still have great coffee, we showcase our farmers. We have great breakfast sandwiches. So for the community. We’re gonna stay there,” he said.

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