Altoona developer Greg Morris, who had a hand in constructing Logan Town Centre, the Hampton Inn, several personal care homes, restaurants and other businesses in the area, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Morris said he took the action because he feared that court-appointed receivers by a Blair County judge would liquidate many of his businesses, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs, if not more. Morris said he has outstanding bank loans of more than $50 million.
Chapter 11 would allow Morris to reorganize his companies.
His attorney, Robert O. Lampl of Pittsburgh, filed to transfer to federal court the Blair County case in which President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva ordered the appointment of receivers.
Lampl filed bankruptcy papers in the Western District of Pennsylvania in an electronic filing on Sunday.
The transfer will be challenged by Blair County attorney Nathan Karn, who represents the estate of one of Morris' business partners, Joseph B. Ventura, who died just over a year ago.
In a dramatic and lengthy hearing on May 14, Karn and attorneys for Morris' other business partners claimed that Morris was not communicating with them and that he was using funds from some business ventures to finance others.
Kopriva ordered that Morris' businesses be placed in receivership, which means that one or two people would be appointed to oversee the operation of his companies. Morris would be permitted to maintain a hand in the day-to-day operations.
Kopriva was given the names of two possible receivers acceptable to Karn and the attorneys representing the business partners. Morris had until Friday to suggest a name of a possible receiver.
Kopriva gave both sides until Tuesday to comment, indicating that her decision on the naming of receivers was imminent.
Morris' filing was for personal bankruptcy, Karn said. Morris was not declaring the many businesses under his management control as financially unstable, Karn emphasized.
In fact, many of the business are financially sound, Karn said.
The case that went before Kopriva was to place the businesses under more stable management, and Karn said he believes the receivership case should remain in the Blair County Court.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffrey A. Deller ordered Morris to submit a balance sheet, a list of equity security holders, a statement of financial affairs and other information by June 1. A bankruptcy plan must be prepared by Sept. 13.
A hearing is scheduled for June 17 in the federal courthouse in Johnstown.
Morris listed nine outstanding loans, including $12.6 million from the Ameriserve Financial Bank in Johnstown, for three personal care homes in Tyrone, Bedford and Clearfield, and a $13.7 million loan from the S&T Bank in Indiana for the Hampton Inn, court documents state.
Morris said he does not believe that the bankruptcy filing will interfere with the construction of the Hilton Plaza near Lakemont.
"Our goal is to work out something with [his partners] so we can move forward in a positive way and make sure jobs don't get lost, and we can build the Hilton Plaza this year," Morris said