Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wyndham Hotel Group Signs Agreement to Open Nine Hotels in Japan

Tom Monaham, right, Wyndham Hotel Group executive vice president, international development, congratulates Toru Nakdate, Green Hospitality Management president and chief executive officer, in London upon signing of an agreement to develop Ramada and Days Inn hotels in Japan.

PARSIPPANY, N.J. -– Wyndham Hotel Group today said it has signed a non-exclusive agreement with Green Hospitality Management Co. LTD of Tokyo to open nine hotels in Japan during the next five years under the Ramada® and Days Inn® lodging brands.

The hotels will be developed, managed or both developed and managed by Green Hospitality Management, a subsidiary of the Green House Co. Ltd., a Japanese hospitality company whose businesses include contract food service, the operation of 500 Japanese and Chinese specialty restaurants and the management of 14 hotels.

The agreement, signed in London last week, promises to quadruple Wyndham Hotel Group’s current presence in Japan.
The company currently franchises three hotels in Japan: the Ramada Sapporo (middle left photo), Ramada Osaka (top right photo) and Ramada Kansai International Airport (bottom right photo), south of Osaka.

“To overcome the cultural, governmental and practical constraints of doing business in Japan, it is critically important to partner with a local company that has demonstrated its ability to grow and maintain a successful analogous business in that country,” said Tom Monahan, (top centered photo) Wyndham Hotel Group executive vice president, international development.

“Green Hospitality Management is an ideal partner for us because they have the requisite hospitality background to develop and manage our Ramada and Days Inn brands,” he said. “We appreciate their enthusiasm, confidence and experience and look forward to a very productive relationship.”

Toru Nakadate, (top centered photo) Green Hospitality Management president and chief executive officer, said his company selected the Ramada and Days Inn brands based on their proven and anticipated ability to perform in Japan and recognition among international travelers.
“The Days Inn and Ramada brands are known and respected worldwide,” he said.

Green House Co. Ltd., founded in 1947, employs 24,000 at 2,000 locations including restaurants and hotels.


Rich Roberts, Vice President, Communications, Wyndham Hotel Group, 1 Sylvan Way,
Parsippany, NJ 07054

(973) 753-6590

CBRE Orlando Comletes Lease Transaction with Old Southern Bank

ORLANDO, FL- - The Orlando office of CB Richard Ellis is pleased to announce, Jorge Rodriguez, CCIM, has completed the lease transaction with Old Southern Bank, representing the landlord at Springs Plaza, 2491 W. SR 434 in Longwood, Florida.

Joe Schuemann of Blue Rock Development represented the tenant. Total consideration was $1,855,000 on a 10 year deal. The building was formerly a Fifth Third Bank location.

Newly secured tenants at Springs Plaza, to be open by the end of the year, include the Hurricane Grill, PetXpres, an upscale pet accessories and supplements, and Harmoni Market.

Newly secured tenants at Springs Plaza, to be open by the end of the year, include the Hurricane Grill, PetXpres, an upscale pet accessories and supplements, and Harmoni Market.

"We are very excited to welcome Old Southern Bank at Springs Plaza as well as Hurricane Grill, PetXpres, and Harmoni Market. All of these Tenants will benefit from the outstanding demographics in this market," said Rodriguez.


ORLANDO, FL - CB Richard Ellis, the world's leader in commercial real estate, is pleased to announce Jorge Rodriguez, (bottom right photo) CCIM of Asset Services, has been selected by Pineloch Management Company to exclusively represent their retail projects.

The Market at Southside, (top right photo) a 133,000 square feet centered anchored by Publix, located at S. Orange Ave and Michigan St in Orlando, Florida; and Southgate Mixed-Use Development, located at Pineloch St and Orange Avenue in Orlando, Florida.

"A CB Richard Ellis platform allows us to properly identify the tenant mix for both properties. Southgate's Tijuana Flats' and Publix's store at The Marketplace are top sales performer for each brand. This new account allows CB Richard Ellis to enhance its market share with quality clients and shopping centers within Central Florida," said Rodriguez.

Contact: Jorge Rodriguez, 407.404.5014,

Cushman & Wakefield Negotiates Sale of 42,250-SF Industrial Building

TAMPA, FL-– Cushman & Wakefield negotiated the sale of a 42,250 square foot single tenant industrial building in Clearwater, Florida for $3,570,000.

The property is located on Ulmerton Road, in Pinellas County.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Private Client Group – Associate Director, . Rick Brugge (top right photo) was quoted as saying, “High barriers to entry in land and construction costs continue to drive interest in income producing property in Pinellas County. With Pinellas being the most densely populated county in the state, the long term outlook for rent and income growth is strong.”

Executive Director - Mike Davis (top left photo) (Capital Markets), Associate Director - Rick Brugge, CCIM (Private Client Group), and Director - Rian Smith(bottom left photo) (Industrial Brokerage) negotiated the sale on behalf of the seller, Continental Business Development, Inc. The buyer was Cabot Properties, Inc.

Contact: Debbie P’Simer, 813-204-5333. debbie.p’

Wyndham Hotel Group International Appoints Marketing Executive

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Wyndham Hotel Group International has announced the appointment of Andrew Dufty (top right photo) as vice president of international marketing.

He is responsible for developing and executing marketing plans in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific region including brand initiatives, advertising campaigns and promotions for Wyndham Hotel Group’s nine hotel brands outside of North America.

Dufty, who is based in London and reports to Jean Thomas, (top left photo) Wyndham Hotel Group executive vice president and chief marketing officer, previously was general manager, marketing, for British Midland Airways in Derby, U.K., Heathrow Airport’s second-largest scheduled airline, responsible for global marketing strategy.

From 2002 to 2006, Dufty was head of brand communications for Barclays Bank PLC, a global financial services provider based in London, responsible for the marketing communications strategies of the Barclays and Woolwich brands. From 2002 to 2003 he served the company as head of sponsorship.

From 1996 to 2002, he worked in a variety of roles at British Airways, the U.K.’s national airline based in London, including sponsorship and promotions manager, responsible for negotiating key company sponsorships including the 2000 Olympic Games and the 2002 World Cup.

From 1995 to 1996 Dufty was product manager for Haven Holidays, the U.K.’s largest amusement park company based in London. He began his career in 1992 as an executive trainee with Gardner Merchant, a contract catering company based in London. In 1993 he was promoted to commercial manager and in 1994 to client account manager.

Dufty received his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management in 1992 from Bournemouth University, Dorset, U.K.


Rob Myers, Communications Coordinator, Wyndham Hotel Group, 1 Sylvan Way, Parsippany, NJ 07054. PH (973) 753 6590.

ICSC Predicts 144,000 Stores Will Close This Year

SANTA ANA, CA--With the $100 billion tax rebate fading into history, retail sales lost steam in July, according to Bob Bach, (top right photo) senior vice president and chief economist at Grubb & Ellis Co.

Total sales fell by 0.1%, and core sales excluding autos and gasoline rose by 0.3%, the weakest performance since February.

Layoffs, sliding home prices, high consumer debt burdens, difficult credit markets and stubbornly high gas prices are taking their toll.

The International Council of Shopping Centers forecasts 144,000 store closings this year, the highest jump in the 14-year history of the survey. Expect shopping center leasing market conditions to bottom out in mid-2009.

Chart at left shows the seasonally adjusted monthly percent change of July retail sales. Data prepared by Census Bureau and Grubb & Ellis.

HFF secures $8.8M financing for Amarillo, TX multifamily community

HOUSTON, TX – The Houston office of HFF (Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P.) has secured an $8.8 million financing for Foxfire Apartments, (top right photo) a 328-unit multifamily community in Amarillo, Texas.

Working exclusively on behalf of Post Investment Group, LLC, HFF managing director Tucker Knight (middle left photo) and real estate analyst Steve Gautier placed the two-year, adjustable-rate loan with Wrightwood Capital.
Loan proceeds are being used to acquire and renovate the property. Post Investment Group is an opportunistic real estate investment firm that invests in multifamily properties nationwide.

Foxfire Apartments is located at 4101 West 45th Avenue less than one mile west of Interstate 27 in southwest Amarillo. The property was completed in two phases and has 41 two-story residential buildings totaling 290,264 square feet. Community amenities include two swimming pools, sun deck, playground, clubhouse and covered parking.

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.


Tucker S. Knight, HFF Managing Director, 713 852 3513,
Laurie Fish McDowell, HFF Associate Director, Marketing, 617 338 0990,

Los Angeles County Office Fundamentals Return to More Sustainable Levels

LOS ANGELES, CA — After recording five consecutive years of steady occupancy gains and robust rent growth, the Los Angeles office market is forecast to soften modestly this year, with fundamentals returning to more sustainable levels, according to a second-quarter Office Research Report by Marcus & Millichap, the nation’s largest real estate investment services firm.

(Ronald Reagan State Office Building, top right)

By year end, office-using employment is forecast to post some gains, although metrowide vacancy will edge tighter.

“Office investors will continue to target assets in Los Angeles County this year, though sales activity will likely remain measured due to the intensified scrutiny from lenders,” says Scott Lamontagne, regional manager of the Los Angeles office of Marcus & Millichap.

Following are some of the most significant aspects of the Los Angeles Office Research Report:

· Office-using employment sectors are projected to add 2,000 workers, a 0.2 percent gain.
· Office construction is expected to total 1.8 million square feet in 2008, up from 590,000 square feet last year.
· Vacancy is forecast to end the year at 10.1 percent.
· Asking rents are projected to reach $35.16 per square foot by year-end 2008, a gain of 8.1 percent.
· Effective rents will climb 7.9 percent to $30.54 per square foot.

For a copy of the complete Los Angeles Office Research Report, as well as reports on other markets nationwide, visit our website at

Press Contact: Stacey Corso, Communications Department, (925) 953-1716

SPECIAL BANKING REPORT: U.S. Financial Institutions' Problems Still Overshadow Their Positives, S&P Analysts Say

NEW YORK, Aug. 21, 2008--More downgrades are possible for U.S. banks, which perhaps are just halfway through the credit downturn, according to Standard & Poor's Ratings Services analysts who spoke at a financial institutions quarterly teleconference Aug. 13.

(S&P analysts Tanya Azarchs, top right; Victoria Wagner, top left)

However, the rating actions on banks and brokerages will continue to be selective rather than broad. The analysts also pointed to some positive trends, including revenue strength, asset divestitures, capital raising, and regulatory moves.

"What we're really trying to answer in our own minds is which banks are going to have the financial flexibility to deal with some fairly serious problems over the next seven to eight quarters," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Tanya Azarchs (top right photo). "Obviously, these are very unprecedented times, and so financial flexibility--in the form of the ability to raise capital and/or in the form of the ability to sell assets--is going to be paramount."

Among banks rated by Standard & Poor's, 19% have either a negative outlook or are on CreditWatch with negative implications, a percentage that is "very high for us by historical standards," Ms. Azarchs said. That's up from 9% in 2007.

"Also, our outlooks on all four of the major broker-dealers are negative. In these difficult times, banks face extremely tight liquidity conditions in the credit markets, especially in the short-term debt market.

"The wild card here is that investor confidence continues to be extremely skittish," Ms. Azarchs added. Loan portfolios of the universal and regional banks are deteriorating "extremely rapidly."

Since the start of 2008, Standard & Poor's rating actions for financial institutions have been overwhelmingly downgrades, mainly because of mark-to-market losses and increasingly from higher-than-expected loan losses.

Although Ms. Azarchs said Standard & Poor's is still "predominantly in downgrade mode," it has raised ratings on five institutions (Northern Trust Co., Countrywide Financial Corp., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., AgFirst Farm Credit Bank, and H&R Block Inc.) since April 1, one following a merger and the other four for fundamental improvements.

Revenue has also been better than expected, and capital raising, which came early in the credit downturn, has helped not just the large banks but also some of the smaller, regional banks.

However, we expect further market dislocation, and we are increasingly concerned about the market for Alt-A mortgage-backed securities (loans made to consumers rated between subprime and prime), in which prices are sliding.

Other concerns include further monoline-related write-downs that banks could have to take, and business volumes, which Ms. Azarchs said have held up "extremely well" during the first half of 2008 but whose future "is not so clear."

The slowing economy's effect on the credit downturn and continued stress in the consumer sector could also further worsen some of the credit losses banks will likely face, she said.

Liquidity has continued to improve. For broker-dealers, one important development during the second quarter was the Federal Reserve's extension of the primary dealer credit facility through January 2008.

Standard & Poor's credit analyst Victoria Wagner (top left photo) also noted that the 'AAA' ratings and stable outlooks on mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reflect even stronger explicit U.S. government support, given new laws that create a liquidity backup plan, and expanded mortgage powers for the two government-sponsored enterprises.

The legislation is "a positive for creditors in that it defines better the regulatory structure," Ms. Wagner said. "It also introduces the type of regulation we see for commercial banks--receivership powers, where you can clearly have more subordination risk for investors in preferred stock and subordinated debt."

However, the real issue through the first quarter of 2009 will be reserve building, Ms. Azarchs said. New accounting guidelines require that reserve levels rise as asset quality continues to deteriorate.

The guidelines will exacerbate the provision requirements to cover higher charge-offs; Standard & Poor's expects these to increase.

To be sure, the credit downturn has affected banks and brokerages' earnings unevenly. Brokers' underlying business activity has been "something of a positive surprise during the past two months," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Scott Sprinzen. (bottom right photo)

Excluding the effect of write-downs, investment banking and trading have been weak but not as bad as they could have been given the extent of market turmoil.
Another positive is that the four major U.S. broker-dealers (Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., and Morgan Stanley) were also able to divest about $400 billion in assets collectively during the second quarter, even excluding Merrill Lynch's subsequent $30 billion transaction.
One of the few bright spots for the banking sector has been the raising of capital roughly in line with the amount of net losses through both common stock and hybrid capital issuance.

Although hybrid issuance has declined during the past month and spreads have widened, "there's still capacity in that market for additional capital-raising activity," Mr. Sprinzen said. However, regional banks' ability to continue raising capital remains in question.

The analysts also mentioned some other areas of concern, including the continued deterioration of prime loans, among which charge-offs are now an unprecedented greater than 1% for some banks, and weakness in construction lending, which is extremely important for the smaller regional banks.

Credit cards are also problematic, approaching the peak losses of 1997 and 2002. But Standard & Poor's doesn't expect levels to rise much higher than that because lending criteria for credit cards didn't get as loose as they did for mortgages.
"What is disturbing is that the receivables are growing," said Ms. Azarchs. "What that says is that, with the home equity spigot having been turned off for consumers, their only recourse is credit card debt to keep themselves going. That perhaps spells trouble for the future and could serve to help keep charge-offs building."
It's just another reason that no one is breathing much easier yet in the banking sector.

S&P Writer: Craig Schneider

For more information, visit
(H&R Block headquarters building, New York, bottom right photo)

Media Contact:

Jeff Sexton, New York, (1) 212-438-3448

Analyst Contacts:

Tanya Azarchs, New York (1) 212-438-7365
Scott Sprinzen, New York (1) 212-438-7812
Victoria Wagner, New York (1) 212-438-7406

Forest City Closes $167M Financing for Downtown Brooklyn Residential Building

Company also updates overall 2008-2009 maturities

CLEVELAND, OH and BROOKLYN, NY /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:FCEA)(NYSE:and)(NYSE:FCEB) announced that it's New York-based subsidiary, Forest City Ratner Companies, has closed on $167 million in construction financing for 80 DeKalb,(top left and middle right photos) an a 335,000-square-foot residential building on DeKalb Avenue in downtown Brooklyn.

The 34-story, Costas Kondylis-designed building is the first residential tower constructed by Forest City in Brooklyn.

It is designed to achieve LEED certification and will include 73 affordable and 292 market-rate rental units, making it the first 80/20 development in Brooklyn financed with bonds issued by the New York State Housing Finance Agency.

"This is an exciting project," said Charles A. Ratner,(top right photo) Forest City president and chief executive officer. "It is a magnificent building at a great location that will provide both affordable and market-rate apartment homes.

"It's also a tribute to our New York team and the relationships they have built in both the public-sector and private-sector financing community."

The New York State Housing Finance Agency selected 80 DeKalb to receive $109.5 million in tax-exempt bonds and $27.5 million in taxable bonds.

The lending institutions involved in the transaction were Wachovia Bank, N.A., and Helaba (both co-agents providing the credit enhancement to the $137 million in bonds issued by HFA), as well as the National Electrical Benefit Fund, which provided a $10 million mezzanine loan and $20 million of credit enhancement.

Major construction on the building began in July and it is expected to open for leasing during the summer of 2009. Update on 2008 and 2009 maturities

Along with the announcement of the 80 DeKalb financing, the Company also provided an update on the status of upcoming loan maturities due in both 2008 and 2009.
Of total 2008 maturities of $903 million at the Company's pro-rata share ($842 million at full consolidation) reported on January 31, 2008, more than 90 percent have been addressed to date through closed loans, scheduled amortization, committed refinancings or available extensions.

In other 2008 financings, the Company has also secured to date more than $1.3 billion at the Company's share ($1.1 billion at full consolidation) in closed or committed loans for financings related to its development and acquisition pipeline in addition to early financings of future loan maturities on existing properties. (Downtown Brooklyn, middle right photo)

Looking ahead to 2009, of the $690 million in scheduled maturities at the Company's share ($482 million at full consolidation) reported on January 31, 2008, approximately 60 percent have been addressed to date, either through closed loans, scheduled amortization or available extensions
"We continue to manage our maturities effectively, recycling capital from our portfolio where prudent to apply to other strategic uses," Ratner said. "We also continue to achieve success in accessing non-recourse financing to fund development and strategic acquisitions based on our track record and long-term relationships with lenders.

"Financing continues to be available for well-conceived and well-sponsored projects and properties in solid markets with good demographics, both in our portfolio and in our development pipeline."

Forest City Enterprises, Inc., is a $10.5 billion NYSE-listed national real estate company. The Company is principally engaged in the ownership, development, management and acquisition of commercial and residential real estate and land throughout the United States.


Robert O'Brien, Executive Vice President - Chief FinancialOfficer, or Tom Kmiecik, Assistant Treasurer, or Jeff Linton, Vice President -Corporate Communication, all of Forest City Enterprises, Inc., +1-216-621-6060