Citi Wins Loan Assignment on Miami Center

Citigroup has written a $172.5 million fixed-rate loan to finance Crocker Partners’ purchase of Miami Center, a 784,000-square-foot skyscraper in downtown Miami.

The bank is likely to securitize the 10-year mortgage in its next conduit offering, due out shortly after Labor Day. Citi vied with several other commercial MBS shops to win the assignment.

Crocker, a Boca Raton, Fla., fund shop, purchased the 35-story building last month from Sumitomo Corp. of America. The loan-to-value ratio is about 66%, indicating a purchase price of roughly $260 million.

The previous debt on the property, a $170 million securitized mortgage maturing in September, was paid off in conjunction with the sale. That loan was originated by UBS in 2007 and securitized in a $3.2 billion transaction (LB-UBS Commercial Mortgage Trust, 2007-C7). The original borrower was a joint venture between J.P. Morgan and Crescent Real Estate of Fort Worth, Texas. Morgan Stanley inherited Crescent’s position when it took over that firm in 2007. Sumitomo purchased Miami Center in 2008 for $253 million and assumed the securitized loan.

When Sumitomo put the property on the market early this year via Rockwood Real Estate, it told prospective buyers it intended to retain a 10% stake. But in the end, Crocker bought the building outright.

Miami Center, at 201 South Biscayne Drive, was built in 1983. It is adjacent and connected to the InterContinental Miami hotel and overlooks Biscayne Bay. The office building was 87% occupied as of September, according to servicer reports. Citi and law firms Shook Hardy and Shutts & Bowen are among the major tenants.

The building lost a big tenant in 2009, when Stanford Group vacated some 90,000 sf following the indictment of its chairman, Allen Stanford, who was recently sentenced to 110 years in prison for running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Last year, new tenants including Apex USA, Jones Walker and Morgan Stanley signed leases totaling 80,000 sf.

Crocker owns and operates a portfolio of office properties, most of which are in the Southeast or Texas. Citi has provided financing for several of its holdings, including a 1.2 million-sf office complex in Houston called Lakes on Post Oak, which Crocker bought in a partnership with Five Mile Capital in 2010. Crocker was founded in 2005 by Thomas Crocker, former chief executive of CRT Properties, a Boca Raton REIT that was acquired that year by DRA Advisors.

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