Saturday, May 24, 2008

Florida Existing Home Sales Improve in April Compared to March 2008

ORLANDO, FL/PRNewswire/ -- Florida Realtors(R) statewide reports an upswing in existing home and condominium sales from March to April 2008, according to the latest housing statistics released by the Florida Association of Realtors(R) (FAR).

(Top right photo shows The Plaza condo-office-retail development in Downtown Orlando)

A total of 11,200 existing single-family homes changed hands in April, a 20 percent increase over the previous month when 9,330 homes sold. Existing condo sales statewide rose 21.6 percent, with 3,900 units sold in April compared with 3,207 condos in March.

The median price for existing condos increased slightly as well during the one-month period. The median price of an existing condo in April was $179,200, up 1.6 percent from March's figure of $176,300.

In the latest National Association of Realtors(R) (NAR) housing outlook, Chief Economist Lawrence Yun (top left photo) predicts that home sales and prices throughout most of the nation will improve in the second half of the year, especially if access to mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac increases.
"There are many reasons for people to get into the housing market today, and very few reasons not to," Yun says. "With the plentiful supply of homes for sale at affordable prices, interest rates approaching 40-year lows, and the strong track record of housing as a good long-term investment, conditions are ripe for buyers."

(For a complete copy of FAR's news release, please contact Marla Martin, Communications Manager, +1-407-438-1400, ext.2326, or Jeff Zipper, Vice President of Communications +1-407-438-1400, ext.2314, both of Florida Association of Realtors(R)

Stevenswood Spa Resort Integrates Eco-friendly Amenities into “Greening” Program

Resort Adds Environmentally Sensitive Amenities™ as Part of Continuing Program to Save Resources, Preserve Environment

(Co-owners Michael Webster and Seth Kelman are at right)

MENDOCINO COAST, CA—Officials of Stevenswood Spa Resort, one of the nation’s leading spa resorts dedicated to creating a more eco-friendly guest experience, has implemented its next “green” initiative with the introduction of a 100-percent biodegradable line of Environmentally Sensitive Amenities™ at its 16-acre, ocean-view Indigo Eco/Spa and resort here.

The amenities include environmentally friendly liquids, soap and packaging.
“We began as a spa interested in the well-being of our guests and evolved into a resort simultaneously dedicated to improving the environment,” said Michael Webster, Stevenswood Spa Resort principle.

“It was a natural extension to take our guest-focused wellness approach and expand it to the wellness of the environment.

"While we are small by spa/resort standards, we believe we can be a more progressive laboratory for larger resorts that have to contend with scale and bureaucracy. As we implement strong environment-oriented programs, we share it with the industry. While at the property level, soaps and liquids and their packaging may seem insignificant in terms of environmental impact, on a national level it accounts for thousands of tons of materials a year.”

For more information, call 707.937.2810 or visit

Chris Daly, Vice President, Daly Gray Public Relations, ph: 703-435-6293,

HFF Secures $31M Refinancing for Suburban Chicago Luxury Multifamily Community

CHICAGO, IL – The Chicago office of HFF (Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P.) has secured a $31 million refinancing for Lincoln at Ovaltine Court, (above photo) a 344-unit luxury multifamily community in Villa Park, Illinois.

Working on behalf of LPC Ovaltine Apartments LLC (comprised of the Lincoln Property Company and the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust (BIT), HFF director Matthew Schoenfeldt (top right photo) and senior managing director Mike Kavanau (middle left photo) placed a five-year, 5.35% fixed-rate loan with Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation).

Ovaltine Court is located at One Ovaltine Court near Interstates 88, 294 and 290 in Villa Park, approximately 17 miles west of downtown Chicago. One portion of the property is a redevelopment of the Ovaltine headquarters and factory, which was occupied for more than 75 years.

The Ovaltine factory space was converted to 121 loft-style homes in the main brick four-story structure. The remaining 223 homes and six commercial units are new construction, garden-style buildings situated throughout the 14-acre site.

Lincoln at Ovaltine Court was developed in 2001 and has homes ranging from 673 to 1,318 square feet that are currently 93% leased. The homes feature high ceilings (9 to 16 feet), washers/dryers, balconies/patios, and many homes contain fireplaces and direct access garages. Community amenities include a fitness center, business center and resident clubroom in more than 3,500 square feet in the main factory structure, as well as an outdoor swimming pool and sundeck.

“This is the Chicago office’s first Freddie Mac transaction and brings the 2008 HFF grand total of Freddie financings to approximately $150 million,” said Schoenfeldt.

Lincoln Property Company is a national development, property management and real estate consulting services firm.

BIT is a $3.015 billion bank collective trust fund composed generally of pension plans with union beneficiaries. It is managed by PNC Bank, National Association.

HFF (NYSE: HF) operates out of 18 offices nationwide and is a leading provider of commercial real estate and capital markets services to the U.S. commercial real estate industry.
HFF offers clients a fully integrated national capital markets platform including debt placement, investment sales, structured finance, private equity, note sales and note sale advisory services and commercial loan servicing.


Matthew R. Schoenfeldt
HFF Director
312 528 3650

Laurie Fish McDowell
HFF Associate Director, Marketing
617 338 0990

Courtyard by Marriott Opens on Gulfport Beachfront

Upscale Hotel Was to Begin Transformation the Day Hurricane Katrina Hit Land

GULFPORT, MS/PRNewswire/ -- Nearly three years after Hurricane Katrina's devastation along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Courtyard(R) by Marriott(R) Gulfport -- located at 1600 East Beach Boulevard in Gulfport -- has opened as the coast's premier beachfront hotel and meetings destination.

The upscale property was to have begun its transformation on August 29, 2005, the day the hurricane reached land. The Courtyard by Marriott Gulfport, converted from the independent Gulfport Beachfront Hotel, boasts a multi-million dollar renovation with fully refurbished guestrooms and the largest meeting and event facilities within a non-casino hotel on the Gulf Coast.

Located among 26 miles of pristine beach along the Gulf of Mexico, the hotel is seven miles from downtown Biloxi and minutes from the Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport, Gulfport businesses, recreation, championship golf, casinos and nightlife. It is owned by Gulfview LLC and managed by Lane Hospitality of Northbrook, IL.

"We applaud community leaders and citizens for working together to rebuild, recover and make Gulfport even better than it was before the impact of the storm," said Bill DeForrest, (photo at left) President and CEO of Lane Hospitality. "We are proud that the Courtyard by Marriott Gulfport is a significant cornerstone in the rebuilding of the beachfront area and representative of the determination, diligence and bright future of this entire community."

DeForrest added that to underscore Lane Hospitality's belief in the future of the State of Mississippi, the company has invested nearly $50 million in hotels in Gulfport and Jackson.

"Our team is proud to bring this world-class hotel brand to Gulfport and to offer guests and meeting attendees an upscale experience directly on the Gulfport Coast," said Craig Larson, (photo at right) Regional Vice President of Operations for Lane Hospitality. "We look forward to giving back to the community that has supported us for so long."


Ginny Morrison, Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing of Lane Hospitality, +1-847-910-4485, Web site:

All-Time Attendance High at CFCAR Event

ORLANDO, FL-- The Central Florida Commercial Association of REALTORS® Presidents’ Council Commercial Real Estate Forum Leadership Luncheon recently took place with record attendance by participating associations.

The luncheon – sponsored by Holland & Knight LLP – was held in an effort to unify the voice of the commercial real estate industry. It addressed issues facing practitioners in today’s marketplace.

The mission of the Presidents’ Council is to convene the leadership of Central Florida’s real estate related associations, thereby creating a forum for the facilitation of local, state and national action that positively affects the smart growth of the region, as well as the sharing of resources and ideas that will allow member associations to become more efficient and effective in accomplishing their goals.

Over 50 business leaders representing 28 commercial real estate organizations and associations came together at this luncheon to discuss business interests that could affect the fabric of Florida’s business climate. Issues such as Hometown Democracy, encroaching property rights issues and rising government relations were lively topics for the panelists and speakers.

Presentations were given on the second phase of Hometown Democracy’s effort to stymie developers and overburden local governments. This broad-based business meeting showed the interests – and emotion – this topic can generate.

Mark Wilson, (photo at left) President & CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, spoke to attendees and stated that even though Hometown Democracy failed to obtain the necessary signatures to place the amendment on the November ballot, supporters will continue with the process in hopes of making it on the 2010 ballot.

Ryan Houck, Executive Director of Floridians for Smarter Growth and the point person in defeating the amendment, said, “Hometown Democracy isn’t smart or slow growth. It is no growth at all.” While speaking, Houck stressed that vigilance and focus is important in not becoming complacent about the issue. He stated, “Hometown Democracy is bad for hometowns and worse for democracy.”

Don Madden, (photo at right) Director of Organizational Development for the Coalition for Property Rights, spoke on their efforts to educate the public and elected officials on the importance of property rights. This concept has steadily eroded since the founding fathers incorporation of it as a basis for our political and economic system.

The association’s website is or more information can be found at

For more information on CFCAR, please visit
or call 407-816-7368.

Jaclyn Whiddon
Blue Sky Partners, Inc.