Friday, July 17, 2009

Tallest Building in Western Hemisphere is Renamed Willis Tower

Global Insurance Broker Willis Group Holdings Makes Iconic Chicago Skyscraper its New Midwest Region Headquarters

Name Change for Former Sears Tower Underscores Chicago’s Growth as a Global Financial Capital

CHICAGO, IL--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere has renamed Willis Tower (centered photo below) in a changing of the guard that underscores Chicago’s increasing importance as a major global financial and business center.

Joseph J. Plumeri, (top right photo) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Willis Group Holdings (NYSE: WSH), the global insurance broker, and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (midle left photo) officially introduced the new name together at a ceremony at Willis Tower attended by Chicago business, community and government leaders, the building’s owners and management, and Willis’ Chicago-area Associates.

Opened in 1973 as Sears Tower, the 110-story glass and steel structure remains the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1,450 feet (442 meters). Willis Tower will be one of Willis’ three largest office locations, alongside New York and London.

The company will occupy more than 140,000 square feet (13,000 square meters) of space in the building when nearly 500 Associates move in this summer from five area offices. Willis plans to add more jobs in Chicago in the coming years.

“Every member of the Willis family is honored to be associated with such an architectural icon and privileged to call this prestigious business address our new Midwest Region headquarters,” Plumeri said.

“Above all, the naming of Willis Tower is an affirmation of our strong commitment to the great city of Chicago, its people and its future. Willis has been in Chicago since 1885, the same year that William LeBaron Jenney built the Home Insurance Building, the first skyscraper in the world.

"Over the years, we’ve grown as Chicago has grown, and we are delighted to be a part of the great future this dynamic city is building as a global financial center. We’re proud to call Chicago our home.”

Mayor Daley said: “Especially in these difficult economic times, a decision such as the one Willis has made sends an important message to all Chicago residents that our city is a vital place and that we are working hard to take the steps necessary to keep our economy moving. So I want to thank the company for their decision to locate in Chicago and for adding their presence to our skyline.”

At today’s ceremony, Willis presented a check for $100,000 to Chicago Cares, the city’s premier volunteer organization. Willis’ Chicago-area Associates have pledged thousands of hours of their time to serving the community.
The company is also making a $100,000 donation to Chicago 2016 to support the bid to bring the Olympic Games to the city.

Scott Lorenz, Executive Director of Chicago Cares, said: “We are thrilled to partner with Willis and thank them for their generous investment in the Chicago community. Their commitment will support our work throughout the year, and we look forward to engaging Willis Associates in meaningful community service projects that help fellow Chicagoans in need.”

Media: Willis Group Holdings, Will Thoretz, +1 212 915-8251, or
For Willis Group Holdings, Daniel Delson, +1 646 805-2036, or
Investors: Willis Group HoldingsKerry K. Calaiaro, +1 212 915-8084,

Arbor Closes 2 Loans in Montana and Maryland

Brush Meadows in Billings, MT Obtains $1.73M Loan

Uniondale, NY (July 17, 2009) - Arbor Commercial Funding, LLC (“Arbor”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arbor Commercial Mortgage, LLC, announced the recent funding of a $1,730,000 loan under the Fannie Mae DUS® MAH Loan product line for the 60-unit complex known as Brush Meadows in Billings, MT.

The 10-year loan amortizes on a 30-year schedule and carries a note rate of 5.90 percent.

The loan was originated by Jon Red, (top right photo) Director, in Arbor’s full-service Spokane, WA lending office. “The borrower was under a tight deadline since this was a purchase transaction of LIHTC deal,” said Red. “Arbor completed its due diligence in 50 days, meeting the borrower’s timeframe.”

Dundalk Apartments in Dundalk, MD Receives $4.16M Loan

Uniondale, NY (July 17, 2009) - Arbor Commercial Funding, LLC (“Arbor”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arbor Commercial Mortgage, LLC, announced the recent funding of a $4,160,000 loan under the Fannie Mae DUS® Loan product line for the 87-unit property known as the Dundalk Apartments (middle left photo) in Dundalk, MD.

The 10-year loan amortizes on a 30-year schedule and carries a note rate of 5.69 percent.

The loan was originated by Stephen York, Director, in Arbor’s full-service New York, NY lending office. “The borrower purchased this property in distress and significantly improved its operations over a two-year period,” said York. “Once the property was ready for permanent financing, Arbor was pleased to deliver long-term fixed-rate financing with extremely attractive terms.”
Contact: Ingrid Principe, P: 516.506.4298, F: 516.542.2555,

Regency Centers Announces Partnership Change & Guidance Revision

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Regency Centers Corporation (NYSE:REG) announced today that its co-investment partner, Macquarie CountryWide Trust (MCW), has agreed to sell its interest in Macquarie CountryWide-Regency II, LLC (MCW II), an existing co-investment partnership between MCW and Regency.

In conjunction with the sale, Regency has an option to increase its ownership in MCW II from 25 to 40%.

Separately, Regency also revised second quarter and full year 2009 Funds from Operations (FFO) guidance to reflect the adverse impacts of the current economic environment.

Sale of MCW Partnership Interest

Global Retail Investors LLC (GRI), a joint venture between the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and an affiliate of First Washington Realty, Inc., has agreed to purchase the majority of MCW's interest in MCW II. Regency has an option to purchase the remainder of MCW's interest.

Formed in 2005, MCW II currently owns 86 retail shopping centers that have been valued at $1.73 billion for this transaction.

Contracts have been signed for a phased sale process that will result in multiple closings over the next 24 months.
The first phase involves the sale of 45% of the partnership to GRI. Closing is expected by the end of July 2009 upon completion of documentation of lender consents on certain property-level loans.

The second phase involves the sale of an additional 15% of the partnership to GRI. This second phase is scheduled to close upon receipt of lender consents for the balance of the property-level loans.

Regency has two options to acquire additional interests in the partnership by up to 15% in total. One option allows Regency to purchase up to an additional 10% interest in the portfolio from MCW. This option must be exercised within 21 months of the initial closing.

If Regency chooses not to exercise the additional 10% option, the option would be available to GRI. If GRI does not purchase the remaining 10%, MCW can initiate a distribution in kind to recover its remaining 10% equity value.
The other option allows Regency to purchase up to an additional 5% interest in the partnership from MCW. This option must be exercised by the later of March 31, 2010, or GRI's second phase closing. In the event that Regency does not exercise the 5% option, GRI must acquire the additional 5% interest.

Assuming Regency exercises all of its options, Regency's ownership in MCW II will increase to 40% and GRI would own 60% of the partnership. Regency will remain the managing member of the partnership and retain management and leasing responsibilities.

Regency will receive a disposition fee from MCW equal to: 1% of the gross sales price paid by GRI for MCW's partnership interest and a 7.7% discount on its purchase options. If the options are not exercised by Regency, Regency will receive cash payments of up to $17 million.

"This transaction is 'bittersweet' given our special relationship with MCW that has developed and grown over many years," says Regency Centers CEO Martin E. Stein (top right photo)

"At the same time, we are excited to have the opportunity to partner with CalPERS and First Washington.

"This transaction will have substantial benefits for Regency including a partnership with an outstanding institutional investor, an option to increase our ownership in a high quality portfolio of shopping centers, maintaining the size of the portfolio's current foot print, and profitable on-going fee income."
Contact: Regency Centers Corporation, Jacksonville, FL. Lisa Palmer, 904-598-7636

Columbus, OH Office Market Shows Signs of Improvement

COLUMBUS, OH — Negative net absorption was recorded in the Columbus office market during the first six months of 2009, but a moderation in job cuts suggests that the worst may soon be over for property owners, according to a second-quarter Office Research Report by Marcus & Millichap, the nation’s largest real estate investment services firm.

Specifically, about 40 percent of the office-using positions eliminated during the year ending in the second quarter occurred in the last six months.

“As the onset of an economic recovery seems to be a few quarters away, prospective buyers continue to move cautiously in the market,” says Michael Glass, (top right photo) regional manager of the Columbus office of Marcus & Millichap.

Following are some of the most significant aspects of the Columbus Office Research Report:
· This year, employers in Columbus are projected to eliminate 19,000 positions, a 2 percent reduction; in 2008, 13,400 jobs were cut. Office-using employers will pare payrolls by 8,000 workers, compared with 6,100 cuts made last year.

· Completions will total 345,000 square feet in 2009, following the delivery of 758,000 square feet last year. Planned projects in the market total 2.1 million square feet, an amount equal to 6.4 percent of existing stock.

· Supply growth will be relatively modest, but demand will continue to fall in response to job cuts. This year, vacancy will increase 200 basis points to 20.8 percent on negative net absorption of 518,000 square feet. The vacancy rate rose 90 basis points in 2008.

· In 2009, asking rents are forecast to fall 3.5 percent to $17.14 per square foot, compared with a 1.7 percent uptick last year. Effective rents are projected to decrease 4.6 percent to $13.71 per square foot, following a modest 0.1 percent drop in 2008.

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

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

Bill Stahlke to Head Lane Co.’s Acquisitions Efforts

ATLANTA, GA (July 17, 2009) – Atlanta-based multifamily real estate firm Lane Company has named Bill Stahlke (top right photo) President – Investments at Lane Strategic Investment, LLC. His responsibilities include developing Lane Company’s acquisition strategy and overseeing all of the firm’s acquisitions.

Lane Company’s primary equity partner is Lubert-Adler Partners, L.P. The firms announced earlier this year that Lubert-Adler will provide $250 million for the acquisition, rehabilitation and repositioning of distressed properties, or properties held by distressed sellers. Initially the firm will focus on opportunities in the Southeast and Southwest.

Stahlke came out of retirement to take the position. Before his retirement, he was President of Windsor Capital Partners (now known as The Shoptaw Group), an investment firm which acquired large apartment communities for institutional pension funds and high net worth individual clients.

He also served as President of Executive Capital Corporation, where he oversaw all capital transactions including the acquisition, financing, rehabilitation and sale of apartment communities in 13 states.

He has also been a long-time volunteer and fundraiser for two nonprofit organizations, HOPE for Children, which focuses on adoption services, and HOPE for Kids, which concentrates on mentoring and educating inner city children. He is also Chief Financial Officer and member of the Board of Directors of Gift for a Child, Inc. a non-profit organization focused on raising awareness and finding permanent homes for children in the foster care system.
He graduated with Honors from the University of Illinois in 1980 with a B.S. in Accountancy.

Media Contact: Terri Thornton, Thornton Communications, 404-932-4347

ICSC Offers Exciting Professional Development Opportunities at Florida Conference in Kissimmee, Aug. 16-18

NEW YORK, NY– Based on its recent success at RECon 2009, the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc. (ICSC) is pleased to announce the addition of the “Reconnect Pavilion – Recruiting, Retraining & Resources” to the Florida Conference taking place August 16-18 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee.

“Realizing that the current economy has impacted all of us, ICSC created the Reconnect Pavilion to help alleviate many of the challenges facing industry professionals by offering highly specialized resources,” stated Michael Kercheval, (top right photo) president and CEO of ICSC.

“Due to how well the pavilion was received by attendees at RECon, we decided to incorporate it into future conferences,” Kercheval added.

The “Reconnect Pavilion,” is designed for attendees looking to start their own business or simply looking to advance their professional know-how and offers specialized training sessions, mentoring, educational sessions, and professional development classes lead by industry professionals and professional career coaches. The pavilion will also feature networking, continuing education information, mentoring, job coaching and more.

“I’m impressed by the commitment ICSC has shown to students as well as the younger generation of industry professionals,” said Esteban Koffsmon, student, University of Columbia.
“The Reconnect Pavilion at RECon helped me connect with numerous industry professionals and provided a forum for obtaining invaluable career advice and opportunities. I would highly recommend that anyone looking to advance their career utilize this resource,” Koffsmon added.

Registration fee for the ICSC 2009 Florida Conference is $350 for members; for nonmembers the fee is $595. Press registration is complimentary.

To register, contact ICSC’s Members Services Department at 646-728-3800 or register online at

Founded in 1957, ICSC is the premier global trade association of the shopping center industry. Its nearly 70,000 members in about 90 countries include shopping center owners, developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, retailers and brokers, as well as academics and public officials

Jesse Tron, International Council of Shopping Centers, 1-646-728-3814
Larry Vershel or Beth Payan, Larry Vershel Communications,