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Slavery museum project put on hold with Chapter 11 filing

A planned project that was 10 years in the making, and would have resulted in a high-tech 100,000-square-foot museum exploring the struggles faced by slaves in the United States, now seems to be put on hold, as the museum recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

According to the Chapter 11 filing, the United States National Slavery Museum cited between $1 million and $10 million in debt. Of this debt, a reported $3,233,784 is in unsecured debt being sought by creditors.

When looking at reasons why the museum filed for bankruptcy, even though famous comedian Bill Crosby had donated $1.2 million of his own money toward the project, the museum still reportedly failed to pay taxes to the city that had donated the land.

When looking at other creditors who are owed money from the project, Lexington Design & Fabrication is listed as one of the largest in terms of liabilities, with the bankruptcy filing citing $1.6 million in debts. However, the company reported that the actual amount owed is more like $200,000.

And even though a Chapter 11 bankruptcy gives a business time to create a repayment plan, the city treasurer where the museum was intended to be built doubts that the museum will be able to recover. According to him, the land owned by the museum will likely be sold to pay city taxes, which is cited as being a major contributing factor to the bankruptcy.

In general, with the recent economic downturn, many businesses -- small and large -- have had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a way to reorganize debts and create a payment plan to get out of the red. And while some believe this is a sign of the end of the museum project, others are hopeful, as filing for Chapter 11 is a sign that museum directors are still interested in seeing the project completed.

Source: msnbc, "National Slavery Museum files for bankruptcy," Oct. 3, 2011

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