Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How Dumb Did CMBS Investors Get?

Even on the most boring financial news day, the WSJ Property Report always offers up a few tasty morsels of mock-worthy stories. You can skip over the tale of Istithmar World Capital, the private equity arm of the Dubai government's investment fund, which is handing back yet another building to lenders. As it turns out, buying a former hotel-turned-office building in Times Square, kicking out all the cash-flow producing tenants, in the hopes of turning it back into a high end hotel, maybe wasn't such a great idea. Must've been a bug in that excel spreadsheet that spit out the ridiculous purchase price in 2006. Then there are the continuing problems of former real estate mogul Kent Swig who used to like to do deals in just nine days because he was just so great at ripping apart the numbers and analyzing the deal "very, very quickly." Now Mr. Swig is being sued by lenders and five of his properties are listed by Real Capital Analytics as "troubled." You don't need nine days to analyze that.

No, the real juice this morning is in the article about the Biscayne Landing development (or lack of development) in Miami. Sure we've read a multitude of stories about silly CMBS issued in the 2005-2007 period secured by properties with extremely optimistic and preposterous future cash flow assumption. But this is the first time I've read about CMBS that was used to finance a land acquisition. In Florida. On landfill. That had been on the EPA's Superfund site list. Sure it was taken off the EPA's list in 1999, but still. Are you kidding me???

The developer of the project, Boca Developers, had grand visions to build 6,000 residential units, a hotel, a town center, pools and clubhouses. Oh, and they were going to cleanup the groundwater that had been contaminated by the aforementioned landfill. Credit Suisse gave the developers a $233.5 million loan, of which $163 million was repacked into CMBS secured by the ground lease and sold off to a bunch of investors who were apparently too sophisticated to read offering documents. In any event, the project is now largely unbuilt except for two condo towers that are involved in a separate foreclosure action. Furthermore, the affordable housing and the Olympic training facility that the developers agreed to help build elsewhere in the city has yet to materialize so the Mayor is pissed. "The project currently is a failure" says the angry Mayor. Ya think? Apparently the next step for the failed development is for someone to step up to take on the ground lease. Shockingly, there are few bidders that are willing to sink equity into unimproved property that doesn't throw off any cash flow. Any takers?

1 comment:

sullymandias said...

this deserves a comment. awesome!