Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mercantile Capital Corp. Provides Commercial Real Estate Loan to Engineering Firm in Maitland, FL worth more than $520,000

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – Mercantile Capital Corporation, which ranks as one of the nation’s leading providers of U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loans for small business owners who want to acquire or develop their own facilities, closed a commercial loan for Florida Bridge and Transportation, Inc. for $524,000 in total project costs.

Florida Bridge and Transportation is a structural engineering firm founded by Mike Hebert  (top right photo) and Mark Niedermann. (middle left photo) The company’s success is due to the holistic approach it takes to designing safe and reliable transportation systems.

“Mercantile Capital Corporation surpassed any expectations I had left for the lending industry. I am excited for the future they have made possible for Florida Bridge & Transportation,” said co-owner Michael Hebert.

The SmartChoice Commercial Loan Program helps owners of small to mid-sized businesses, like Florida Bridge and Transportation, have an opportunity to create wealth and financial freedom.

Their specialization in SmartChoice Commercial Loans, also known as SBA 504s, allow borrowers, like Mark Niedermann and Mike Hebert, to own their commercial property with the highest cash-on-cash return financing available, without tying up their precious capital, so they can grow even faster.

For more information, please  visit

For more information about this press release, please contact:

Chris Hurn, CEO, Mercantile Capital Corporation, 407-786-5040
Robin Lashley, Mercantile Capital Corporation, 407-786-5040

150 Single-Family Homes to Start Construction at Yager Lane in North Austin, TX

AUSTIN, TX- - Developers of Yager Lane, a planned community located east of I-35 across from Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park in Austin, TX and in the Pflugerville school district, plan to start construction of the first 55 home sites in the community before March 30. The community will have 110 single family detached and 40 townhomes at built-out.

Richard Kunz,  (top right photo) who heads Avalon Park Texas, L.P., a Texas Joint Venture of Orlando, Fla.-based Avalon Park Group, said he is currently negotiating with six local and national home builders to start construction of single-family homes at Yager Lane. The 50-foot home sites will feature uniquely-styled homes priced from the high 100s to the high 200s

Avalon Park Group is well known in Florida for development of Avalon Park, an award-winning 1,800-acre neotraditional community that is now home to more than 3,500 families and a thriving downtown area with its own elementary, middle and high schools.

For more information, please  contact:

Richard Kunz Avalonpark Texas, L.P. 512-695 3356
 Beat Kahli, CEO Avalon Park Group / Avalonpark Texas, L.P. 407-658-6565
Stephanie Hodson, Marketing Coordinator, Avalon Park Group 407-658-6565
Larry Vershel, Larry Vershel Communications 407-644-4142,

Historic Times Square Building Gets $267M Infusion for New Broadway Future

(NEW YORK, NY)—The largely vacant Times Square Building, one of the best-known commercial sites in the world has been given a new lease on life.

The owners, Africa Israel and its subsidiary, AFI USA, have received new five-year refinancing totaling about $267 million and access to a revolving line of credit from Banco Inbursa SA.

Five Mile Capital Partners LLC of Stamford, CT is converting its existing debt to equity to become a 50 percent equity partner in the property.

The 25 story, 807,000-sf former headquarters of The New York Times at 229 W. 43rd St. (42nd and Broadway) (top left photo) has had no tenants above the retail floors since the current owners bought the building in 2007.

When it was built in 1905, it was the second tallest building in the world, according to Wikipedia. The building has had several owners since The Times sold the building in 1961.

The digital signs on the building (top right photo)  are considered to be the most valuable in the world. They can often be rented by the day or by the hour for product launches or other special events. The rental rates can be as high as $10,000 per hour.

“We applaud the flexibility, creativity and determination of Inbursa, our other lenders and our new partner, Five Mile Capital, for working so hard with us to restructure the debt on the Times Square Building,” says Richard A. Marin, (middle right photo) Chairman and CEO of AFI USA.

Marin is the former chairman and CEO of Bear Stearns, a New York City-based global investment bank and securities trading and brokerage that collapsed in 2007 and was sold to JPMorgan Chase in 2008

“The renewed commitment of equity and involvement by our chairman Lev Leviev (middle left photo)  has made this all possible,,” he says. “As a result, we are proud to unveil today new plans for the property that will allow us to create the most value and make the greatest contribution to the Times Square neighborhood.”

AFI USA achieved the successful restructuring of the financing of the Times Square Building by settling the $236 million mezzanine debt with a group made up of BlackRock, CIT Lending Services Group, Five Mile Capital and Column Financial; securing a five-year extension of the senior debt; eliminating over $70 million in guarantees and transforming the entire project to being off-balance-sheet.

Jonathan Geanakos, Managing Director of Houlihan Lokey, advised AFI USA on the restructuring.

According to Marin, the financial restructuring of this property will result in a write-back of $370 million to the equity of AFI USA.

“This sets us on a course of renewal and success for our company, for our partners going forward, and for the Times Square Building,” Marin says.

AFI USA’s original plans after acquiring the building in 2007, called for the 365-foot tall building to offer 622,000 square feet of office space and 128,000 square feet of retail space.

The new plans call for an increase in retail space from 17% to over 38% of the total square footage.

In addition, AFI USA will sell or lease seven floors totaling approximately 330,000 square feet to a hotel operator for a high-end hotel property; and redevelop the remaining four top floors into a select number of luxury condominium penthouse residences.

The Times Square Building will offer exclusive landmarked signage opportunities.

“We believe in this project and are confident that the new leadership of AFI USA will bring the project to a successful completion,” says James G. Glasgow Jr., (bottom right photo) , a Partner of Five Mile Capital. “We are glad to be a partner in a redevelopment that offers so much unique value, even in a challenging real estate market.”

Glasgow says the new Times Square Building will meet the needs of Times Square’s most ardent users: the over 37.6 million tourists who visit each year.

The property’s location – just 500 feet from where the ball drops each New Year’s Eve and across from Broadway’s Schubert Alley – makes it attractive to many restaurateurs and retailers, Glasgow says.

This, in combination with its unique architectural features – historic fa├žade, high-ceilings, and oversized windows – and access from 43 rd and 44 th Streets, makes it an ideal hotel asset, he adds.

Marin says the retail space at the Times Square Building is already 55-percent leased in two deals totaling 134,000 square feet.

The first deal, with Discovery Times Square Exhibitions, occupies the sub-lower, lower and ground floors, and houses traveling exhibitions such as Titanic, the Artifact Exhibition and King Tut.

The second transaction, with the operator of Bowlmor Lanes, will offer bowling, entertainment and seven separate dining/bowling areas (fashioned after iconic New York neighborhoods) on floors three and four.

AFI USA’s plans call for the hotel to occupy floors five through 11 of the property.

The sky lobby, with double-height ceilings and arched windows, will be reached from its own entrance and elevator bank.

In addition to the 397 oversized hotel rooms, the property can deliver a spa, gym (complete with pool), restaurant and other amenities.

Marin says AFI USA will sell or lease this space to a hotel operator, and is currently in negotiations with a number of interested parties.

The final portion of the repurposing of the Times Square Building is the redevelopment of floors 12 through 16 into approximately 26 luxury condominium residences, and the marketing of the property’s grandfathered rooftop signage rights.

33rd Bulk Condo Sale Recorded in Miami in Past 18 Months

(MIAMI, FL)—Bulk condo buyers continue to rule the roost in Miami-Dade County’s high-rise shelter market. reports a newly created South Florida entity has purchased 20 units in a new Greater Downtown Miami condo tower for $2.9 million, or an average $169 per square foot---one of the lowest prices in the past two years.

The price represents a 59 percent discount off of the average closed sales price in the project up to that point, according to a new report from

The Aventura-based Kypros Holdings LLC with principals Ramon Cierco and Blanca Palau purchased nearly 17,400 square feet of space in the 18-story Gallery Art condominium  (top right photo) on Northeast 24th Street in Greater Downtown Miami's Biscayne Boulevard Corridor.

The 20 units have an assessed value for tax purposes of $5.6 million, according to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser's Office.

The seller was Gallery Art Condominium LLC with Harvey Hernandez as principal. Hernandez signed the deed, which was recorded Dec. 8, 2009, according to Miami-Dade County and Florida Secretary of State records.

"On the surface, the price seems attractive compared to previous closed sales in the building," says Peter Zalewski, (middle  right photo)  a principal with the Bal Harbour, Fla.-based real estate consultancy Condo Vultures® LLC.

However, "after a closer review, the bulk buyer ended up paying a premium over another investor who purchased a bundle of 50 units for only $4 million in a project located just two blocks down the street,” Zalewski points out.

"The quality of the two new projects differs but it is up for discussion if the differences are worth the premium," he adds.

In November, a South Florida entity called 2200 NE 4th Avenue LLC with David Garfinkle and Adam N. Pollock paid $4 million for more than 40,400 square feet of space in the Edgewater Lofts condominium (top left photo) located on Northeast 22nd Street, according to a recent report based on Miami-Dade County records.

Mercantil Commercebank assigned its outstanding debt on the original $12.3 million loan for construction of the Edgewater Lofts to the bulk buyer, 2200 NE 4th Avenue LLC, in October 2009. No price was recorded for the transaction with Miami-Dade County, according to government records.

“Bulk deals have been closing at a rapid pace, making it a challenge to stay apprised of the latest pricing,” says Zalewski.

The Gallery Art bulk purchase is the second deal to close in December, and the 15th transaction this quarter in the tricounty South Florida area.

Since July 2008, buyers have closed on 33 bulk deals (including five note sales) for more than 2,900 units and 3.47 million square feet, according to the Condo Vultures® Bulk Deals Database™.

At Gallery Art, the Kypros Holdings' bulk purchase represents only a fraction of the units that have closed at the condominium that recorded its first recorded sale in February 2008.

Of the 119 closings recorded in the 176-unit tower, 58 units -- including the 20 units in the bulk purchase -- have closed since November 2009, according to Miami-Dade County records compiled by

At the end of the third quarter, only 35 percent of the units in the Gallery Art had been recorded as sold, with pricing averaging $331,000 per unit and $410 per square foot, according to the Condo Vultures® Official Condo Buyers Guide To Miami™.

With the flurry of closings in the last month, the average closed sales price for the project is $301 per square foot. The average closed sales price since November is $191 per square foot, according to the Condo Vultures

To date, the Gallery Art condominium has generated nearly $29 million in transactions.  (Biscayne Bay bottom left photo)

Mercantil Commercebank in Coral Gables provided a $40.3 million construction loan to the project in June 2006 that has not yet been repaid or assigned, according to Miami-Dade County records.

Contact:  Peter Zalewski, Condo Vultures® Realty LLC, Office: 305-865-5629, Cell: 305-321-7383, eFax: 1-305-832-0311,,

Marcus & Millichap Sells $10.2M Multifamily Complex in Orlando, FL

ORLANDO, FL – Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, the nation’s largest real estate investment services firm, has brokered the sale of Riverfront Apartments, (top left photo) a 356-unit, 335,892-square foot former Section 42 Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) property in Orlando.

 The sales price of $10,279,000 represents $28,874 per unit and $31 per square foot.

The Tax Credit Group of Marcus & Millichap (TCG) represented the buyer and the seller in the transaction. The Tax Credit Group is led by Robert L. Sheppard, (middle right photo) a senior vice president investments, along with Armand W. Tiberio (middle left photo) and Spencer H. Hurst, (bottom right photo)  vice presidents investments.

Providing representation from Orlando were investment specialists Patrick Skinner and Kevin Yaryan. In Fort Lauderdale, Evan P. Kristol, a senior vice president investments, and Still Hunter III, a first vice president investments, provided representation.

“We collaborated as a team to access thousands of investors nationwide and ultimately generated more than 30 offers on the property,” says Skinner. “The area around the University of Central Florida (UCF) has proven to be somewhat resilient to the recession and the new owner will benefit from the ability to move rents to market.”

Located on 17.8 acres at 9201 Nelson Park Circle, the property is close to UCF.

Riverfront Apartments was constructed in 1998 and features 32 one-bedroom/one-bath, 140 two-bedroom/two-bath and 184 three-bedroom/two-bath apartment homes. Community amenities include an on-site leasing office, clubhouse, swimming pool, children’s playground, fitness center and basketball area.

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

CFCAR Seeks Sponsors for 2010 Real Estate Outlook Conference on Jan. 27

ORLANDO, Fla. --- The Central Florida Commercial Association of Realtors (CFCAR) is seeking sponsors for the 2010 Real Estate Outlook conference, scheduled for Wednesday Jan. 27 at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Orlando.

G. Geoffrey Longstaff, (top right photo) chairman of Mercantile Capital Corporation, one of the largest providers of U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loans in the nation will be a featured panelist at 2010 Real Estate Outlook.

Dr. Sean Snaith (top left photo)  of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness will be the keynote speaker.

The panel discussion on financial trends will include moderator David Patten of Commercial Mortgage Advisors, Longstaff, Susan G. Hostettler of CNL Bank Central Florida, and Andy Johnson of RBC Bank.

Another panel discussion that includes the region’s top commercial real estate brokers will include moderator Robin Webb  (middle  right photo) of Coldwell Banker Commercial, John Crossman (bottom right photo) of Crossman & Company, David Murphy of CB Richard Ellis, Jay Ballard of Cushman & Wakefield, and Greg Morrison (bottom left photo) of Morrison Commercial Real Estate.

 Registration for the conference will start at 7 a.m. Breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m. and the program will start at 8:30 a.m. at the Marriott located at 400 W. Livingston St.

Sponsorship opportunities include event sponsorship, table sponsorship and program advertising opportunities.
Mercantile Capital Corporation ranks as one of the most active providers of SBA 504 loans nationwide, providing owners of small and mid-sized businesses the option to own commercial property with up to 90 percent loan-to-cost financing. Visit or for more information.

For more information, please contact:

Geof Longstaff, Chairman Mercantile Capital Corporation, 407-786-5040
 Dale Donovan, VP Sponsorships, CFCAR 407-491-0005;
Steve Neveleff, President CFCAR 407-767-6475;
 Larry Vershel, Larry Vershel Communications 407-644-4142

NorthStar Realty Finance Corp. Announces Sale of a Portfolio of Assisted Living Facilities for $95 Million

NEW YORK, NY-- NorthStar Realty Finance Corp. (NYSE:NRF)  has completed the sale of 18 assisted living facilities containing approximately 1,300 beds located in North Carolina to a private investor group for $95 million.

The sale is expected to generate approximately $36 million of cash proceeds to NorthStar after transaction costs and repayment of $56 million of mortgage debt and related accrued interest.

The sales price represents an approximate $11 million premium to NorthStar's undepreciated cost basis and an approximate $17 million premium to NorthStar's carrying value at September 30, 2009.

NorthStar Realty Finance Corp. is an internally managed REIT that primarily originates and invests in commercial real estate debt, real estate securities and net lease properties. For more information about NorthStar Realty Finance Corp., please visit

CONTACT: Investor Relations, Joseph Calabrese, for NorthStar Realty Finance Corp., +1-212-827-3772
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