Developer to Purchase Pennsylvania's Mountain Laurel Center

Classic Arts News   Developer to Purchase Pennsylvania's Mountain Laurel Center
A Philadelphia developer has agreed to purchase the struggling Mountain Laurel Performing Arts Center in northeast Pennsylvania, the Allentown Morning Call reports.

The original closing date for the purchase was last week; it has now been postponed until September 30.

John Wolfington plans to pay off the center's millions of dollars in debts by building and selling condominiums on its 675-acre grounds. He will lease the center itself back to the non-profit group that currently runs it.

The plan would have to be approved by Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell because the state contributed $15 million to the center. Dave Wilson, executive director of the Pike County Industrial Development Authority, which owns the center, told the Morning Call that he believed that Wolfington had secured the governor's support in a meeting earlier this month.

The Mountain Laurel Center, intended as the summer home of the Pittsburgh Symphony, has struggled since it opened in 2003, suffering from poor management and construction delays. It is currently facing a state audit and lawsuits from several former contractors.

This summer's abbreviated schedule included performances by the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony. It is not clear whether the Pittsburgh Symphony will ever play a regular season at the center.

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