November – Briefs/Sales & Development

Strategic Hotels Buys NYC’s Essex House; Macy’s Signs on as First Anchor at Summerlin; Thomas Properties, CalSTRS Acquire Austin Office Portfolio; Marriott to Open Luxury Hotel in the Bronx; Kennedy Wilson Buys 339 KSF of Retail; California Towers Trade for $118.5M; Wheelock Street Capital Grabs 15 Hotels for $221M; TIAA-CREF Lands Massive Retail Property in England.

Strategic Hotels Buys NYC’s Essex House

 joint venture of Strategic Hotels & Resorts and an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners L.L.C. has closed on its purchase of the iconic Essex House Hotel, located on Central Park South in Manhattan. The gross purchase price was approximately $362.3 million. Strategic Hotels owns 51 percent of the JV and serves as the managing member and asset manager. The debt portion of the acquisition was funded by a $190 million first mortgage originated by Bank of America.

The seller was DIG EH Hotel L.L.C. of Dubai, for which Morrison & Foerster provided legal counsel. SNR Denton was counsel to KSL Capital Partners. The hotel, which had been branded under the Jumeirah Group, will be immediately reflagged as a JW Marriott, with Marriott International taking over operations. Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels arranged the sale on behalf of Dubai Investment Group.

Macy’s Signs on as First Anchor at Summerlin

The development of the Summerlin master-planned community in Las Vegas has officially restarted, thanks to Macy’s Inc. signing up to be the first anchor tenant in the Howard Hughes Corp. project. The 22,500-acre master-planned urban center will include retail, entertainment, office, hotel and multi-family assets. The retail portion, The Shops at Summerlin, will feature more than 125 stores and restaurants in an open-air environment with pedestrian thoroughfares. Macy’s will build a two-level, 180,000-square-foot store, which is scheduled to open in fall 2014. It will be the first full-line Macy’s store to open in the Las Vegas market since 1996.

Thomas Properties, CalSTRS Acquire Austin Office Portfolio

Thomas Properties Group Inc. and CalSTRS have jointly acquired an eight-building, 3 million-square-foot portfolio of office properties in downtown and suburban Austin. The portfolio was purchased from TPG-Austin Portfolio Syndication Partners, a venture among Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., an offshore sovereign wealth fund, and TPG/CalSTRS L.L.C. The venture formed TPG CalSTRS Austin L.L.C. to own the Austin portfolio. The interest is split evenly between the two members. The portfolio was purchased for $859 million before prorations and adjustments.

Marriott to Open Luxury Hotel in the Bronx

Simone Development Cos. has announced that Marriott has signed an agreement to operate a luxury hotel as the centerpiece of Simone Development’s new Metro Center Atrium mixed-use project in the Bronx, N.Y. The 370,000-square-foot office/retail/hotel complex is Simone’s latest addition to its 42-acre Hutchinson Metro Center campus, located in the Middletown/Pelham Bay section of the Bronx. The new Marriott at Metro Center Atrium, operating under the Residence Inn brand, will be the first luxury hotel to open in the Bronx. The 125-room extended-stay hotel is scheduled to open in 2014.

Kennedy Wilson Buys 339 KSF of Retail

Kennedy Wilson has acquired a 209,329-square-foot multi-tenant retail center in Orem, Utah. The transaction follows two recent retail purchases by the company and its partners, including 15,118 square feet of retail and office in Malibu, Calif., and a 114,404-square-foot retail center in Boise, Idaho. Partners in the transactions included The LeFrak Organization and Kennedy Wilson Fund IV, among others. The combined purchase price of the acquisitions was $37.3 million. Kennedy Wilson plans to reposition all of the properties.

California Towers Trade for $118.5M

Holliday Fenoglio Fowler L.P. has closed the sale of Treat Towers, twin Class A office buildings totaling 378,749 square feet in Walnut Creek, Calif. The property was sold by a joint venture between Equity One Inc. and The Blackstone Group L.P., and was purchased by a national insurance company for $118.5 million. The LEED Gold-certified assets were completed in 1999 and are currently 85 percent leased, with a tenant roster including Paradigm Management Services, HQ Global Workplaces, Environmental Resources Management and Littler Mendelson.

Wheelock Street Capital Grabs 15 Hotels for $221M

Greenwich, Conn.-based real estate investment firm Wheelock Street Capital has acquired 15 hotels in nine states in two separate transactions valued at $221 million in total. Twelve of the assets were select-service hotels purchased from affiliates of Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. The three remaining properties were full-service hotels acquired from affiliates of Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc.  CBRE and Maxim Hotel Brokerage represented Inland. Sunstone was represented by Hodges Ward Elliott.

TIAA-CREF Lands Massive Retail Property in England

TIAA-CREF has purchased a 1 million-square-foot retail property in England from privately owned property group Grosvenor. The retirement plan provider dished out approximately $451 million for the Basingstoke, U.K., asset known as Festival Place Shopping Center. The property was redeveloped by Grosvenor in 2002 and currently features anchor tenants such as Debenhams and Marks and Spencer, while entertainment at the property is ensured by a 10-screen Vue Cinema. The 175 onsite shops feature big retail names like Zara, Apple and H&M.