Friday, October 24, 2008

Interstate Hotels & Resorts Opens New Marriott TownePlace Suites in Albany, NY

ARLINGTON, VA—Interstate Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: IHR), a leading hotel real estate investor and the nation’s largest independent hotel management company, has opened and will operate the 106-room TownePlace Suites/Albany Empire State Plaza (top right photo) in New York.

The newly built, extended-stay hotel is owned and was developed by True North Development Group, Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

“This is our first contract with True North Development Group,” said Thomas F. Hewitt, (middle left photo) Interstate’s chief executive officer.

“It also is our first TownePlace Suites hotel, bringing to 70 the number of Marriott branded hotels in our managed portfolio, aggregating more than 13,000 rooms.

" Including this hotel, Interstate has opened five under construction properties in 2008 and has management contracts for an additional 15 currently under development or construction.

"It’s also our 15th managed hotel in the state, and we believe our deep knowledge of this market will benefit our new owners."

“We wanted this new hotel to get a running start operationally and selected Interstate because of their vast experience in extended stay, their size advantages and their proven ability to deliver solid results in all phases of the economic cycle,” said Lee Browning, Jr., principal, True North Development Group.

The seven-story, stucco and brick hotel is located at 22 Holland Ave.


Carrie McIntyre, SVP, Treasurer, (703) 387-3320
Julie Tullbane, Daly Gray Public Relations, T 703-435-6293, F 703-435-6297

Kennedy Funding Closes $10.14M Loan for Waterfront Commercial Space in Miami

In the midst of the nation's worst credit crisis, the Hackensack, NJ lender closes loan for space in 60-story condo tower overlooking Biscayne Bay (middle left photo)

MIAMI, FL/PRNewswire/ -- Kennedy Funding, one of the nation's largest direct private lenders, has closed a $10.14 million loan to 888 Biscayne Enterprises, LLC.

The loan is for the acquisition of the four-story commercial space in the recently completed Marina Blue Condominium (tmiddle right photo) building overlooking Biscayne Bay (middle left photo) at 888 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, Florida.

The unfinished commercial space is comprised of four stories (three floors plus one mezzanine) and totals 44,000 square feet.

Included with the commercial space are two terraces for outdoor seating and 185 dedicated parking spaces (50 more than required for the space) in the condominium building's multi-level garage.

The borrower is an experienced commercial developer with a track record that includes numerous commercial real estate purchases.

Relying on an excellent credit history, the borrower has consistently secured financing through traditional sources -- mainly bank loans -- for past purchases.

Enter the credit crunch and economic uncertainty of 2008, and even such an exceptionally strong borrower would find it impossible to close a conventional loan.

It took Kennedy Funding of Hackensack, New Jersey, to bring immediate action and fund the deal.

While the Miami real estate market, like many throughout the country, is suffering, prime waterfront properties have done a better job of holding onto their value.

The upscale residential portion of the Marina Blue condominium tower is more than 90% sold and occupied.

After detailed analysis of the market, the property, the collateral and other relevant factors, Kennedy saw sufficient potential in the commercial space to approve the $10,140,000 loan to 888 Biscayne Enterprises, LLC.

"It's unfortunate that other lenders will completely rule out a type of development or an entire geographical area without considering specific circumstances and situations," notes Jeffrey Wolfer, (top left photo) President and Co-CEO of Kennedy Funding.

He continued, "A closer look at this property, the buyers attracted to the residential units, the commercial spaces in the areas immediately surrounding it, and we were able to close the loan quickly.

(American Airlines Arena, Miami, middle right photo)

"With the nearby arena, performing arts center (bottom left photo) and the site for the new Miami Art Museum, the area is really going to be spectacular. Virtually no one is closing loans any more. Even on deals where the collateral is strong and the developer's credit is excellent.

"That's why more and more borrowers are coming to us sooner. They know we don't just stop lending on certain types of projects or in certain areas. We dig deeper --- we don't make a decision until we look at and evaluate the specifics."

Kennedy Funding is a pioneer in the category of "situational lending," providing loans of $1 million to $100 million or more with commitments in as little as 24 hours and closings in as quickly as five days.

As the leader in direct private lending, Kennedy has extensive experience in funding in a wide range of business sectors.

Unlike the methods used by many traditional lenders, Kennedy sees each borrower as unique, evaluating each situation individually.

Specializing in commercial real estate bridge loans for domestic and global clients, Kennedy provides up to 65% loan-to-value for land acquisition, development, refinancing, construction, bank workouts, bankruptcies and foreclosures.

Across the nation and around the world, Kennedy has produced funding for conventional and unconventional projects, often succeeding when other financial institutions cannot.

CONTACT: David Green for Kennedy Funding, +1-201-288-7888,

September Illinois Home Sales Down 8.7 Percent from Last Year

Statewide Median Price at $179,650

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Oct. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- According to the Illinois Association of REALTORS(R) latest report, September total home sales (which include single-family and condominiums) were down 8.7 percent in September 2008 to 9,686 sales compared to September 2007 sales of 10,604.

The Illinois median price in September was $179,650, down 9.7 percent from $199,000 in September 2007. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half sold for less.

(Chicago Downtown retail district, middle left photo)

"The fortunes of the housing market are clearly challenged by the major downturn in the economy. Illinois lost a further 3,700 jobs in September, generating a loss of over 14,000 jobs in 2008," said Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, (top right photo) director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois.

"If there was any good economic news in the last month it would have to be the universal realization that the downturn in the economy has reached proportions that have many analysts suggesting that it is by far the worst since the Second World War."

Regarding the longer-term outlook, in the latest REAL forecast Hewings says: "With the passage of the bailout plan and the international collaborative efforts to address the systemic problems of ailing economies, there is some basis for optimism that a turnaround may be possible in 2009."

The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage for the North Central region was 6.05 percent in September 2008, down 0.47 points from the 6.52 average rate the previous month, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.

Last year in September it averaged 6.41 percent. Sales numbers improved in September as people took advantage of these buyers-market conditions with low interest rates, ample supply, and negotiating room on price.

Other positives for buyers are the new tax credit for first-time buyers and increased loan limits on FHA-insured mortgages," said REALTOR(R) Pat Callan, (middle right photo) president of the Illinois Association of REALTORS(R).

"Some downward pressure on prices is expected as we move through the inventory of homes and some would-be buyers and sellers simply wait out uncertainty in the financial markets and economy."

(Marcus & Millichap's Chicago area retail forecast chart, middle right)

According to the IAR report, home sales were up in 33 of 101 Illinois counties reporting in September including DeKalb, up 12.9 percent; Kane, up 4.7 percent; Kendall, up 5.1 percent; Macon, up 8.6 percent; McLean, up 3.0 percent; Morgan, up 15.2 percent, Saint Clair, up 1.4 percent; Sangamon, up 10.1 percent; Tazewell, up 6.8 percent; and Will, up 4.9 percent.

In the city of Chicago, September total home sales (single-family and condominiums) were down 16.0 percent in September 2008 to 1,770 sales compared to September 2007 sales of 2,108. The city of Chicago median price in September was $267,750, down 10.6 percent from $299,450 in September 2007.

"We continue to see opportunities in the market for homebuyers and investors," said David Hanna, (bottom left photo) president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS(R). "Lenders continue to add loan products that offer buyers flexibility with their down payment and credit score. This paired with low interest rates and great values on the market make it the optimal time to invest in real estate."

In the Chicagoland Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA) home sales (which include single-family and condominiums) totaled 6,371, down 6.2 percent from 6,794 home sales in September 2007.

The Chicagoland PMSA, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.The median home sale price for the Chicagoland PMSA was $224,000 in September 2008, down 13.0 percent from $257,500 in September 2007.

CONTACT: Mary Schaefer or Ann Londrigan, both of the Illinois Association of REALTORS, +1-217-529-2600

CBRE Orlando Presents third-Quarter Office and Industrial Market Reports

ORLANDO, FL--The Orlando office of CB Richard Ellis Group reports the office market vacancy rate locally remains unchanged at 12 percent while industrial vacancy has moved up to 10 percent.

(For a detailed analysis of the office and industrial markets, please contact

Industrial Market Highlights

---Orlando area industrial vacancy rate increases to 10 percent.
---Overall weighted average asking lease rates for industrial space is at $7.07 NNN per sq. ft.
---Area industrial development projects includes: Four Corners Business Park, Lakeview Distribution Center, Yeehaw Transportation and Distribution Center, and Publix Distribution Center.

Office Market Highlights

---From July to August of this year, 26,000 Floridians lost their jobs pushing the unemployment rate to the highest level in over a decade.
---After three years of steady increases in average asking rental rates, Metro Orlando experienced a minimal decrease of $0.14 per sq. ft. from $22.33 in the second quarter.
---The total vacancy rate for Metro Orlando remained unchanged at 12.0 percent with Lake Mary and Maitland Center submarkets experiencing the lowest vacancies of 8.0 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.
---The Lake Mary and South Orlando submarkets experienced the greatest net absorption of 130,551 sq. ft. and 235,528 sq. ft., respectively.

(Bill Moss, bottom left photo, heads the Orlando office of CB Richard Ellis Group.)

Heidi Adams Earns CCIM Status

ORLANDO, FL – Heidi C. Adams, (top right photo) Director of Leasing for Winter Park-based Taurus Southern Investments, LLC, a subsidiary of Boston-based Taurus Investment Holdings, LLC, received the prestigious Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation.

Recognized experts in the disciplines of commercial and investment real estate, only six percent of the estimated 150,000 commercial real estate practitioners nationwide hold the CCIM designation.

In September, Adams was prominently recognized among The Top Women in Florida Commercial Real Estate 2008 by Florida Real Estate Journal.

Honored among 21 professional women statewide, Adams co-brokered an impressive $68 million in transactions during 2007, and was earlier named among Orlando Business Journal’s 2007 “Forty Under 40” most successful young business professionals.

Notably, Adams co-brokered Taurus’ $50.4 million portfolio sale of four office buildings at the Central Florida Research Park in Orlando, and her portfolio responsibilities also include nearly 1.5 million square feet of developed space in Orlando and Jacksonville.

Specializing in high technology, simulation and bio-tech tenancies, Adams numerous 2007 multi-year leases included VaxDesign, Infrasafe, Teranex, Rockwell Collins, GSA and others.

Contact: Kenneth H. Cristol, 407-774-2515

Bids Due Today on Gwinnett Place Apts. in Georgia

ATLANTA, GA--Engler Financial Group presents Gwinnett Place Apartments, (top right photo) an attractive 304-unit, Class “B+” apartment community located off Sweetwater Road, approximately one-quarter mile east of Pleasant Hill Road, in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Greg Engler, CEO/President, Engler Financial Group, says the acquisition of Gwinnett Place Apartments can be partially financed through the assumption of $10,400,000 in tax-exempt “low floater” municipal bonds with a 4.645% rate cap in place.

The existing bond financing assures the buyer of below market interest rates for the term of the substitute credit enhancement, which adds substantial value to the property.

Gwinnett Place Apartments are being offered for sale on an unpriced basis and represents an excellent opportunity to purchase a well-located apartment community in one of the fastest growing and most dynamic metropolitan markets in the United States. Bids for Gwinnett Place Apartments will be due today, Oct. 24.


Greg Engler, CEO/Presiden, t678/992-2000, ext. 1,
Pat Jones, Senior Vice President, 678/992-2000, ext. 2,
Kris Mikkelsen, Senior Associate, 678/992-2000, ext. 4,

Cambridge Capital's Davis Says Difficult Times for Financial Markets Create Opportunity for Senior Housing and Helathcare Borrowers

FHA-Insured HUD Loans Remain Rock-Solid in Tumultuous Environment

CHICAGO, IL--Dramatic moves by world financial leaders appear to have staved off a meltdown of the global financial system, but economists broadly agree that what’s ahead for the economy isn’t all that rosy.

“By most accounts, the U.S. already is in a recession that many believe could be long and protracted. The freeze gripping the banking industry is beginning to thaw but it will take time for the capital markets to begin functioning in a normal way,” cautions funding expert Jeffrey A. Davis. (top right photo) “We’ve pulled back from the precipice, but a host of other problems remain,“ he observes.

Davis is Chairman of Cambridge Realty Capital Companies, one of the nation’s leading senior housing/healthcare lenders with more than $2.75 billion in closed transactions since the mid-1990s. The company has three distinctive business units: FHA-insured HUD loans, conventional financing and investments, and acquisitions.

“At this time, many traditional lenders are out of the market. Senior housing/healthcare borrowers are relying primarily on government-insured programs or local and regional banking contacts to meet their funding needs.

“As anticipated, FHA-insured HUD loans have been rock-solid in the current crisis, with rates near historic lows. Conventional loans have and will continue to be adversely impacted by developments in the capital markets, but remain a viable option for some borrowers,” he noted.

Davis points out that effective interest rates for conventional loans have increased in recent weeks, while loan-to-value ratios have moved in the opposite direction.

(Pinecrest Care Center, DeKalb, IL, middle right photo)

As the financial system began to freeze up, bankers became increasingly more conservative in their overall activities.

“To avoid surprises, owners are well-advised to spend more time communicating and talking with their bankers," he believes.
"Because new developments can occur swiftly in the current cycle, it’s important for owners to be aware of the condition and capital level of their banking resources. There’s also a need to observe service levels and the way banks respond to customer needs,“

Davis says the good news for borrowers is that with the economy weakening, the Fed isn’t likely to increase short-term interest rates any time soon. The bad news is that the Fed’s ability to influence interest rates one way or another hasn't been all that impressive in the current cycle.

(The Pavilion at Crossing Point, Orlando, FL, bottom right photo)

The Cambridge chairman explains that popular HUD loans tend to mirror what’s happening with 10-year Treasury notes, while conventional commercial loans most typically are keyed to other benchmarks, such as the prime interest rate or the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) index.

In October, 10-Year Treasury notes have fluctuated between 3.50 percent on October 7 to 4.04 percent eight days later on October 15. The prime rate remained at 5 percent but the one-month Libor rate was up more dramatically, rising to 4.17 percent on October 15 from 3.13 percent a month earlier on September 15.

“During periods of heightened anxiety, it’s not always easy to look ahead. But at some future time borrowers will probably look back on this moment in history as a good time to have secured financing at a relatively attractive rate near the low point for the cycle,” he observed.

For additional information, contact Cambridge at (312) 357-1601 or via e-mail at

Contact: Evan Washington, Phone: (312) 521-7603, Fax: (312) 357-1611, E-Mail:

Le Meridien Continues Expansion in Asia Pacific, Announcing the Signing of Two New Hotels

Le Méridien Qingdao and Le Meridien Chongqing join the brand’s growing portfolio in China

Growth Accelerates On the Heels of Four New Le Méridien Hotels in China and Thailand to open by year end

QUINGDAO and CHONGQUING, CHINA- - Le Méridien continues its expansion in Asia Pacific, today announcing an agreement with Wanda Group to open two new properties in China, one in Qingdao (top left photo) and one in Chongqing.

Scheduled to open in 2011, the two new Le Meridien hotels further strengthen the Le Meridien brand’s growing portfolio in China, and will offer travelers a unique European flair and sophisticated environment designed to appeal to the creative guest.

In addition, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the parent company of Le Meridien also announced an agreement with Wanda Group to add a Sheraton in Wuxi and a Westin in Taiyuan to the Starwood portfolio in China.

"We are thrilled to announce what will be two stunning Le Méridien hotels in Qingdao and Chongqing, two of China’s most exciting destinations!” said Miguel Ko (middle right photo) , President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Asia Pacific.

(Chongquing retail sector in Yuzhong District, bottom left photo)

Ko says, “Chongqing is the biggest inland river port in western China and one of the most established industrial bases in China, while Qingdao attracts travelers with its rich cultural heritage and sound economic strength.
"Both cities are a great fit with Le Méridien brand, which is committed to providing guests with an interactive and culturally enriching experience.”

Le Meridien is also set to open Le Meridien Shimei Bay Beach Resort & Spa in China this year, as well as three Le Meridien hotels in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai by the end of the year.

“It’s no surprise that tourists and business travelers are flocking to Thailand and China in droves, drawn by these two countries’ rich landscapes, exciting metropolises and luxurious resort enclaves,” said Eva Ziegler, (bottom right photo) Brand Leader of Le Meridien.

Le Meridien Qingdao will be strategically located at the intersection of Xu Zhou Road and Yan Ji Road in Shi Bei District of Qingdao, Shandong Province, the new Central Business District of Qingdao.

Le Meridien Chongqing, Nan’an will be located between Nanping Avenue and Shanhu Road in Nan’an Nanping Business District of Chongqing.


Hwee-Peng Yeo
Director, Corporate Communications
Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts Ltd
9 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City Tower 2
#24-02, Singapore 038989

Tel : +65 6335 4837; Cell : +65 9768 6087; +65 9248 0424
Fax : +65 6335 4820;

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts Debuts in Republic of Maldives

Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa Adds More Depth to the Rapidly Growing Sheraton Resorts Portfolio

SINGAPORE - – Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) has announced a joint venture agreement with Full Moon Private Limited to rebrand the Full Moon Resort to Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa. (top left photo)

Starwood is extensively refurbishing the 156-room resort, which is located on its own private island in the Republic of Maldives, and targets to officially open the resort as a Sheraton on December 1.

The addition of Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa heralds the aggressive growth of the brand’s portfolio of world-class resorts in desirable destinations across the globe.

Sheraton currently offers more than 16 resorts in Asia Pacific, in locations such as Fiji, Japan, China, Indonesia, Guam and Australia. And there are Sheraton resorts under development in markets like Taiwan, India and Spain.

“The Sheraton brand is familiar and well-known to travelers, and the addition of this spectacular hotel to our beautiful collection of upper upscale resorts located throughout the world gives leisure travelers more reasons to love us,” said Miguel Ko, (middle right photo) President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Asia Pacific.

“The Maldives woos tourists with promises of 'the last paradise on earth', with its pure white beaches, pristine turquoise lagoons and spectacular and diving resorts. Together with W Retreat & Spa, Maldives, we are thrilled to be able to offer travelers different resort experiences that reflect their preferences and personalities, and ultimately create a truly memorable travel experience for them, “added Ko.

W Retreat & Spa, Maldives is the first W resort in the world and has been making waves since September 2006.

The W resort is owned by a joint venture between an affiliate of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and Universal Enterprises Private Limited, the parent company of Full Moon Private Limited.

Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is located on its own private island, Furana Fushi, (bottom left photo) in the North Male Atoll and a 20 minute boat ride from Male International Airport. In addition to the 156 rooms, Sheraton also welcomes guests with 7 restaurants and bars, a spa, and various indoor and outdoor recreational activities.


Hwee-Peng Yeo
Director, Corporate Communications
Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts Ltd
9 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City Tower 2
#24-02, Singapore 038989

Tel : +65 6335 4837; Cell : +65 9768 6087; +65 9248 0424
Fax : +65 6335 4820;

Southeast Asia's First Four Points Hotel Opens in East Malaysia

KUCHING, EAST MALAYSIA – Four Points by Sheraton, the fast-growing upscale hotel brand operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts is set to open its first hotel in South East Asia this December in the East Malaysian city of Kuching.

Located 2 kilometres from the Kuching International Airport and just 15 minutes from the heart of the city, Four Points by Sheraton Kuching, (top right photo) the city’s first International hotel opening in over 15 years will cater to both business and leisure travelers while also offering a complete range of meeting and banquet facilities

All of the 421 casually stylish rooms will feature the Four Points by Sheraton Four Comfort Bed, 32-inch LCD televisions, large working desk, High Speed Internet Access, WiFi and a great rainforest shower.

The hotel will also have three Food and Beverage concepts, eight meeting spaces including a 1,456-square metre ballroom, 24-hour fitness centre, outdoor swimming pool, spa and 24-hour business centre.

“Our guests will be able to enjoy a comfortable, fun and uncomplicated experience, all at an honest value,” said Colin Vickers, (top left photo) General Manager of Four Points by Sheraton Kuching.

Planning to more than double its portfolio by the end of 2008, Four Points by Sheraton is one of the fastest-growing hotel brands in the business. Four Points by Sheraton has more than 130 properties in 22 countries.

(Kuching waterfront, bottom left photo)

Four Points by Sheraton is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with approximately 900 properties in more than 100 countries and 155,000 employees at its owned and managed properties.

Hwee-Peng Yeo
Director, Corporate Communications
Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts Ltd
9 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City Tower 2
#24-02, Singapore 038989

Tel : +65 6335 4837; Cell : +65 9768 6087; +65 9248 0424
Fax : +65 6335 4820;