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George Washington Immigration Group Debuts Loan Platform for EB-5 Debt [Updated]

George Washington Immigration Group has secured the capital to provide $1.25 billion in first-lien construction loans and bridge loans to developers seeking EB-5 financing, Commercial Observer can exclusively report.

The firm declined to specify the source behind the commitment, citing a confidential arrangement.

“We will now be able to provide approved projects with … bridge capital while they seek financing under the EB-5 program,” said Evan Stoopler, a George Washington managing director.

The EB-5 program, administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, offers visas for foreigners who make investments in American enterprises. To qualify, foreign entrepreneurs must invest at least $1 million (or $500,000, if the investment is in a rural area) in projects that stand to create full-time jobs for 10 or more workers.

The arrangements have increasingly appealed to U.S. real estate developers looking for financing of late. Rates tend to be more attractive than those offered by domestic lenders, and foreigners seeking EB-5 visas are often less intent on seeking an equity reward for investment. But it has often difficult to line up foreign investors with shovel-ready projects in time.

That’s where the George Washington company’s bridge loans will come in, said one of the group’s managing partners, Steve Anapoell. His firm plans to use the $1.25 billion pool as interim financing for developers while longer-term EB-5 partners can be matched.

“I am constantly called to ask if I have money to provide as bridge,” Anapoell said. “Developers are hungry for this. [They ask me] ‘can you give bridge? Do you know anyone who can give us bridge?’ They need certainty in the capital stack.”

When George Washington’s short-term financings expire, the company hopes to stand ready to roll those bridge loans over into debt funded by EB-5 applicants. But borrowers will not be bound to refinance through George Washington, Anapoell said.

The company’s members have structured over $2 billion in EB-5 financings, including for Related CompaniesHudson Yards development, for Silverstein Properties30 Park Place, and for Extell Development and Lightstone Group.

Update: This story has been edited to include that the financing will be available for construction loans and bridge loans.

Source: commercial

Thor Nabs $310M Refi for 680 Madison Avenue

Thor Equities has secured a $310 million financing package for 680 Madison Avenue, comprising a $215 million senior loan from J.P. Morgan Chase—according to records filed with the city this morning, and a $95 million mezzanine piece.

Thor received a $30 million building loan from J.P. Morgan which was then consolidated with a previous $185 million loan on the property—part of the Morgan Stanley-sponsored  MSC 2015-XLF1 commercial mortgage-backed securities transaction. The loan was originated in July 2014 with a maturation date set for August 2016, which was extended a year to this month after Thor opted to exercise an option to do so.

The now $215 million, floating-rate senior loan consolidation is accompanied by a $95 million mezzanine piece from an unnamed lender—according to a source close to the deal and first reported by The Real Deal—and fills out the two-year loan package, which totals $310 million. An official at JP Morgan declined to comment on the transaction.

The 32,526-square-foot retail condominium was bought by Thor Equities in 2013 for about $277 million, as previously reported by CO, and sits at the base of a luxury residential high-rise owned by Extell Development.

Just over half of the retail condo is currently leased out, but the property has seen waves of interest as of late, according to the source close to the deal.

Last August, high-end fashion designer Tom Ford signed a 12,300-square-foot lease—set to expire in July 2032, according to information provided by Trepp—to occupy two floors of the property between East 61st and East 62nd Streets. The designer is the building’s largest tenant, with about 3,300 square feet on the ground floor and 9,000 square feet on the second floor.   

Italian menswear provider Brioni currently occupies 5,953 square feet of space on the ground floor and second level of the condo on a lease that’s set to expire in January 2032, and high-end eyewear designer Morgenthal Frederics is currently leasing out 590 square feet on a lease that will expire in June 2030, according to data from Trepp.

Source: commercial

Bank of the Ozarks Lends $90M on Gary Barnett’s Park Avenue Condo Development

Source: commercial