Monday, March 2, 2009

Endeavor completes 92,000-SF lease with GSA and retains HFF to market Austin office property for sale

DALLAS, TX, Mar. 2, 2009 – The Dallas office of HFF (Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P.) announced today it has been retained to market for sale the GSA-leased Southpark Office Center (middle right photo) in Austin, Texas.

Endeavor Real Estate Group completed a 10-year, 92,000-square-foot lease to the GSA on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service in late 2008.

HFF’s Dallas investment sales team is marketing Southpark Office Center without a formal asking price free and clear of debt.

Southpark Office Center is located on Interstate 35 just south of its intersection with Ben White Blvd (Hwy 71) and just west of Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The 122,000-square-foot property was completely redeveloped by Endeavor in 2008. The GSA lease encompasses 75% of the property with the remaining space being available for lease
“The IRS lease represents one of the largest leases executed in Austin in the past year and further establishes the Southpark area as a regional hub for the IRS, which now occupies approximately one million square feet in the immediate area, and during its peak season supports 2,700 employees,” said Jamil Alam (top left photo) of Endeavor Real Estate Group.

“The decision to sell the asset at this time is in keeping with our original strategy, which entailed re-developing the property and then leasing it to an investment-grade credit tenant.

"The group that ultimately acquires the Southpark will benefit from stable cash flow from the GSA lease as well as the upside associated with the attractive remaining vacancy in the property.”

Endeavor Real Estate Group owns, manages and leases four million square feet of office and industrial space in Central Texas plus more than three million square feet of retail space, with more under construction.


Jamil Alam, Principal, Endeavor Real Estate Group, (512) 682-5575,
Andrew S. Levy, HFF Senior Managing Director, (214) 265-0880.
Kristen M. Murphy, HFF Associate Director, Marketing, (713) 852-3500,

Cousins Announces Resignation of Dan DuPree

ATLANTA, GA, Mar. 2, 2009 -- Cousins Properties Incorporated (NYSE: CUZ) announced today that Dan DuPree (top right photo) has resigned from his post as Vice Chairman of the Company.

DuPree has accepted another position in the real estate industry which will be announced shortly. The resignation will be effective beginning March 15.


Cameron Golden, Director of Investor Relations/Corporate Communications, 404-407-1984,

NPD Predicts a Tough Year for the Restaurant Industry in 2009 as Consumers Continue to Tighten Purse Strings

A new NPD report looks at how restaurants survived in 2008 and how they will need to adapt in 2009

(Top right photo by Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times)

CHICAGO, IL, Mar. 2, 2009--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Rising unemployment, eroding consumer confidence, market volatility, and other economic concerns will take a toll on the restaurant industry in 2009, according to a new report from The NPD Group, a leading market research company.

Total restaurant industry traffic was down one percent at the end of 2008, and NPD forecasts in its new report that 2009 will be an even tougher year for restaurants.

The new report, entitled, Challenging Times…Driving Sales in 2009, takes a deep dive into what happened to the restaurant industry last year, what worked and what didn’t; and how the lessons learned from last year and previous industry downturns can help improve sales in 2009.

In addition, the report provides a sales and traffic forecast for 2009 by industry segment, and offers considerations for restaurant operators on how to survive and adapt to the challenges of 2009.

“Our industry began 2008 battling rising prices, especially for food and fuel, and slowing customer traffic counts, which resulted in extreme pressure on margins throughout the foodservice industry,” says Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst and author of the report. “By the end of the summer, the economy had taken a sharp turn for the worse as housing and financial markets sunk deeper into turmoil.”

According to NPD CREST® data, the restaurant industry started 2008 on a positive note from a traffic standpoint; however, visits to restaurants began to slow mid-year, and turned negative in three of the last four months of the year. Total restaurant industry traffic was flat for the year.

Riggs points out in the report that when consumers did visit a restaurant in 2008, they kept a tight hold on their purse strings. Trading down from full service restaurants to quick service restaurants, ordering more often from the dollar/value menu, ordering lower price menu items, and not taking kids out for a meal were among the ways in which consumers managed their restaurant checks last year.

“Now we face a much tougher marketplace, much greater uncertainty, and a very tight hold on our pocketbooks,” says Riggs. “Restaurant customers are being bombarded with great offers; they can carefully choose how and where to spend their food dollars. Much of the challenge for operators this year will be having a good understanding of what their customers want.”

For more information, contact us or visit

The NPD Group, Inc., Kim McLynn, 847-692-1781, Senior Public Relations Manager.

Orange County, FL Resort Tax Collections Down

ORLANDO, FL, Mar. 2, 2009 -- County Comptroller Martha Haynie announced today that resort tax collections received by the County in February for the hotel collection month of January 2009 were $12,760,200.

Resort taxes are charged on short-term rentals, mostly hotels and

Comptroller Haynie noted that January 2009 collections were ten percent lower than January 2008.

“We know the tourism industry is not immune from the general economic downturn, and a ten percent decline certainly shows that a lot of businesses, and their employees, are hurting.

"But we can still hope that the quality of our convention and vacation products will cushion this sector from the worst of the recession,” Haynie added.

Contact: Martha O. Haynie, (407) 836-5690

Sorenson Group Holdings Acquires $701 Million of FDIC Commercial Real Estate Loans

Structured Portfolio Consists of Loans Formerly Owned by Two Failed Banks, First National Bank of Nevada and First Heritage Bank, N.A.

Assets are Located in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and California.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, Mar. 2, 2009--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sorenson Group Holdings LLC today announced it has acquired a structured portfolio of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) commercial real estate loans worth $701 million from Diversified Business Strategies of Sandy, Utah.
The deal closed Fri., Feb. 20 and includes assets in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and California.

“Our goal is to work out the best disposition of these assets for the FDIC, for investors and for borrowers,” said James Lee Sorenson,(top right photo) Sorenson Group Holdings founder and lead investor.

Sorenson is also CEO of The Sorenson Group, a developer of prime real estate along Utah’s Wasatch Front, including the 7,000-unit master-planned Rosecrest community. Sorenson Group Holdings will own the loan portfolio and The Sorenson Group will manage it.

The FDIC has been selling structured portfolios of residential and commercial loans from failed banks, giving portfolio investors the opportunity to make investment returns by working out resolution of the loans in ways beneficial to the borrower and lender.

Portfolio investors share a percentage of sale proceeds with the FDIC. The Sorenson Group Holdings portfolio is made up of loans from two banks closed in 2008 by the FDIC: First National Bank of Nevada, Reno, Nevada; and First Heritage Bank, N.A., of Newport Beach, California (owned by First National Bank Holding Co., Scottsdale, Arizona).

The two other Sorenson Group Holdings partners are Tim Fenton and Joe Sorenson, also directors of The Sorenson Group. Both Fenton and Joe Sorenson have extensive large-scale commercial development experience.

About Sorenson Group Holdings

Sorenson Group Holdings LLC is an investment fund founded by James Lee Sorenson to invest in real estate and distressed loan portfolios, which are then managed by The Sorenson Group.
Acquisitions may include failed bank loans from the FDIC, bank loan assets and other real estate investments. Sorenson Group Holdings seeks targeted returns for investors through opportunistic acquisitions that leverage the extensive real estate development and management experience of the principals.


Sorenson Group Holdings, Media, David Parkinson, 801 490 1015, david@sorensoncompanies
Investor Relations, Mark Staples, 801-461-9738,

Most Lenders Still Playing Defensive Role, RECI Reports

CHICAGO, IL, Mar. 2, 2009 --As the first quarter winds down, the real estate capital markets are filled with caution and anxiety as lenders crave for market stability, according to The Real Estate Capital Institute.

Randal Dawson, (top right photo) a member of the Real Estate Capital Institute Advisory Board declares, "2009 looks to be a year of refinancing and with limited acquisition activity."

Dawson suggests, "Distressed deals will be the norm for most new acquisitions and investors will be overwhelmed with renegotiating overleveraged debt."

RECI finds realty capital markets remain challenged with the following issues in the forefront of discussion:

* Valuation Concerns: Many investors believe that cap rates will return to higher single-digits -- in norm with historical levels. Institutional-grade assets are valued starting at 7% for multifamily properties and 8% for commercial properties.

Furthermore, lenders require substantial supporting data (recent comps) to justify lower cap rates. Secondary markets and older properties pricings start at 100 basis points or more with much wider variance.

* Capital Availability/Allocation: Most financial institutions are playing a defensive role, rather than pursuing aggressive growth and funding strategies. Shoring-up balance sheets and shedding unwanted loans and other realty assets remain key priorities.

Select sources state that they would like to return to the market by the second quarter and mid-year. Lenders are allocating substantial portions of funds for refinance and rollover, rather than new loan origination.

* Relative-Value Pricing: Attractively priced CMBS debt (Triple-Aquality) offers the best investment opportunities for investors preferringto capture the most favorable yields, rather than new origination funds .

Such yields are in the lower-double-digit range. As such, mortgage ratesare still favorably priced for borrowers -- within the range of 6.5% to 8.5% for conventional properties based on 10-year terms.

* Delinquencies: For the most part, loan delinquencies and defaults are at controllable levels. Retail properties pose the most challenges, as numerous merchants are in either bankruptcy or requesting substantial rent discounts. Co-tenancy issues also raising concerns for further occupancy reductions.

* Tighter Funding Standards: Most lenders are strictly enforcing shorter amortization schedules and wider debt coverage ratios (e.g., 1.25X and 25-year maximum) to restrict proceeds, rather than relying on loan-to-valuesrestrictions as a primary underwriting variable.

That said, 55% to 65% is the norm for most institutional-quality, non-multifamily loans. REITs, pension funds and private equity capital players requiring less leverage enjoy excellent rates and terms. Leverage-oriented investors are forced to stay with bank lines, hoping for more favorable funding conditions.

* Maturity Risk: Agencies and many life companies favor longer-term loans in excess of five years as refinance rollover risks are of concern.

Meanwhile, banks mitigate such risks by relying upon recourse and substantial funding deposits, often in excess of 10% of the loan amount.
* Large Loan Vacuum: $50 million + loan funding sources are limited to about a half dozen major life companies. Otherwise, lenders must syndicate such loans. Loans under $10 million still offer numerous options including banks, life companies and private capital.

* "Floor" Rates Prevail: While lenders are still quoting fixed-rate loans based on treasury spreads, most loans feature floor-rate minimums.Naturally, floating-rate loans are still quoted floating over Libor, Prime,etc - floors are also imposed on such funding structures .

Contact: Nat Zvislo, Research Director, Toll Free 800-994-RECI (7324)