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Art Institute of Pittsburgh may have potential buyers

Bob Bauder
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A federally appointed mediator has halted the closure of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and says he has two potential buyers interested in acquiring the Strip District-based school.

Dream Center Education Holdings, which bought the art institute in 2017, filed for federal receivership in January, citing $41 million in debt and declining enrollment. A federal court in Cleveland subsequently appointed Mark Dottore to take over Dream Center’s assets.

He said two companies have expressed interest in buying the 98-year-old school, one of which owns colleges in other parts of the country.

Dottore, a Cleveland-based professional receiver, mediator, and crisis management expert, said the school would remain open and that existing students would be permitted to complete their education there or with a partner institution. Dream Center intended to close the school on March 31.

“One thing I can assure you is I care about getting these students either in a safe landing spot or somewhere they can finish their education,” Dottore said. “I’m working with the landlord now to keep the actual school in place. The worst case scenario is I would find another school to partner with so they could. I will not leave them alone.”

About 230 students attend classes at the Art Institute’s Strip District campus. Another 1,924 take online classes through the school.

He plans to keep students in their current location on Penn Avenue and move all other operations, including a call center for online classes, to a building in Robinson.

“The school’s going to remain where it is, at least that’s my plan,” he said. “Moving forward, I wish I could tell you. I’ve only been there 14 days. I just finished putting out most of the fires. Now I’m working on restructuring it.”

He said a nondisclosure agreement prevented him from naming the potential buyers.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.