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February 28, 2012

CBRE Lines Up $181M Financing for D.C. Office Project

February 28, 2012
By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor

A rendering of the building to be constructed at 1050 First Street NE.

CBRE Capital Markets has arranged $181 million in financing for the first two phases of Sentinel Square, an office development in Washington, D.C., that will eventually total 1.3 million square feet. CBRE arranged the funding on behalf of the Trammell Crow Co., Crow Holdings Capital Partners L.L.C. and Cottonwood Partners.

The financing comprises two loans, one to refinance 90 K Street NE, and the second to fund the construction of 1050 First Street NE. It was provided by Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale and Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale.

90 K Street, Sentinel Square’s first phase, is a 412,000 RSF, 12-story Class A office building that opened in June 2010. It’s currently 84 percent leased to tenants including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Parole Commission, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The $111 million loan on the building funds the repayment of the existing construction loan, while also monetizing the value that the borrower created through lease-up.

1050 First Street comprises phase two of Sentinel Square. It will be a 278,817-square-foot, 12-story Class A office building built on the same fundamentals as phase one and intended to appeal to the private sector as well as the federal government. The $70 million loan provides the necessary funding for the borrower to develop 1050 First Street on a non-recourse speculative basis.

Both buildings feature environmentally sensitive designs with LEED Gold and Energy Star certifications. Befitting their location and tenant bases, both also include enhanced security features, such as blast-resistant glass and progressive collapse avoidance.

Joe Donato, executive vice president of CBRE Capital Markets, mentioned the “impressive growth” of the NoMa submarket as a factor in the financing. The NoMa, or North of Massachusetts Avenue, district refers to an area just north of Capitol Hill and Union Station that includes the Government Printing Office and adjoins Gallaudet University. The neighborhood is served by the Washington Metro’s Red Line.

According to CBRE, the Class A office vacancy rate in the NoMa submarket was 9.2 percent as of year-end 2011.

“Foreign lenders are generally interested in trophy or Class A office buildings in urban locations in the top six to eight U.S. markets,” Donato told Commercial Property Executive.

“To date, all of the leases at 90 K Street are with the General Services Administration. These two lenders were attracted to the deal based on the GSA leases and the downtown Washington, D.C., location, as well as the quality of properties and the sponsor’s track record of successfully developing spec properties and subsequently leasing them to the GSA.”