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Half-Built Carolina Panthers Practice Facility in South Carolina Destined for Demolition

Thu February 09, 2023 - Southeast Edition
WCNC-TV & FanNation

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper halted construction of a new team headquarters and practice facility in Rock Hill, S.C., because of a dispute with the city. (Photo courtesy of CoStar)
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper halted construction of a new team headquarters and practice facility in Rock Hill, S.C., because of a dispute with the city. (Photo courtesy of CoStar)

For several months, approximately $170 million worth of steel sat in the ground at a 245-acre property in South Carolina which was supposed to be the new home of the Carolina Panthers practice facility.

That steel will now be taken out as the half-built facility in Rock Hill is set to be demolished to make way for future office and commercial space, according to FanNation, an online sports journalism site supported by Sports Illustrated.

Colliers International, a Charlotte, N.C., commercial real estate firm, is marketing the building's 245-acre site in Upstate South Carolina on behalf of the city of Rock Hill, which became the property's new owner following the finalization of a bankruptcy settlement in December between Panthers' owner David Tepper and his realty company, GT Real Estate, York County and the city.

Tepper had started construction on the NFL team's proposed 623,000-sq.-ft. headquarters to include a training and office complex about 25 mi. south of the Panthers' home stadium in uptown Charlotte.

But two years into the project, the work screeched to a halt last spring after GT Real Estate accused Rock Hill of not making payments for the project's public infrastructure, FanNation reported.

WCNC-TV in Charlotte noted that Rock Hill had reportedly been warned by Tepper's side that if payments were not made in 30 days, the owner and the team would end the agreement completely. Rock Hill officials responded, stating that the claims made by the Panthers were "misleading and erroneous."

In June 2022, GT Real Estate ended up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after claiming the city reneged on its agreement to sell $225 million of bonds to help finance the Panthers' facility. The dispute also involved York County and dozens of contractors and vendors that were working on the development.

Tepper, who bought the Carolina Panthers in 2018, along with Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, is a hedge fund billionaire, and the second-wealthiest owner in the NFL.

Large Piece of Property All Set for Reimagining

The 245-acre site will be a blank slate for potential buyers to reimagine for manufacturing, office and retail space, Bryan Johnson, the executive managing director of Colliers International, told WCNC-TV.

After first being reported that the property could be turned into a mixed-use development and multi-family housing, Johnson said the new focus is on manufacturing and office space.

"This would be almost like a gateway for Rock Hill," he told the Charlotte NBC affiliate, adding that city residents are attracting businesses and they need more office space in the area.

"The labor force in Rock Hill is actually outpacing [both] the national and South Carolina averages," Johnson explained. "So, there's a lot of high-tech, highly educated people that live down in Rock Hill, and those labor forces are really needed by all these companies."

To make room for the new vision, he said the structure for the former Panthers' practice facility will need demolishing because it is a "single-purpose-built facility" that cannot serve most developments.

Nearby Road Projects to Continue

WCNC-TV also reported that construction is also still under way on Interstate 77's new Exit 81 leading directly to the site. Additionally, crews will continue to widen Mount Gallant Road as originally planned. Both projects were designed in conjunction with the NFL team's plans. A York County spokesperson told the Charlotte TV station the $21 million the county received from the bankruptcy settlement will go toward the road building effort, likely to start in 2024.

While Rock Hill does not yet know who will buy the land, Johnson said the city does not want high-density housing there. It also is possible the city could sell to multiple buyers who would divvy up the site.

In addition, there is no price tag for the property. Instead, Colliers is hoping to present several different offers and site plans to the city in 2023.

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