Comerica Bank Tower Needs Some Help

Categories: Real Estate
comericabanktower.jpg
This hasn't been a good week for 1717 Main Street: First, TM Advertising announced it's moving out and heading to Victory Park, which didn't faze Downtown Dallas Inc. CEO John Crawford. And then, this morning, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Metropolitan Real Estate, which bought the downtown high-rise, designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee and built in 1987, has "been placed under the oversight of a special servicer that deals with troubled loans," according to Fitch Ratings.

What's the problem? Well, according to Eliot Brown, when Metropolitan Real Estate bought the tower at the end of '06, it ...
...put on a hefty $180 million mortgage, according to loan research service Trepp LLC. While the owners have been able to cover their debt service up until now, they have reported to creditors that a major tenant is not expected to renew its lease later in the year, according to Trepp. Facing an expected drop in revenue from the 1.5 million square foot tower, Metropolitan is looking to modify its loan, which matures in 2017.
Metropolitan had hoped it would have been able to raise rents since the purchase, but that didn't happen.
As of late 2009, the latest info available, the property's net income was $15.3 million, below the $18.3 million ultimately expected, according to Trepp and deal documents.

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17 comments
Wylie H.
Wylie H.

At least we don't have to worry about Museum Tower going into default, since Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (backed by the City of Dallas) owns 100% of the $200 million equity in the property without any debt.

moderndrift
moderndrift

Who is the tenant that is not renewing?  It is the aforementioned TM Advertising, or another tenant, perhaps Comerica?

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

The days of the single-use office tower in the Dallas CBD are numbered. If I owned a building along Main Street, I would already have a long-term plan in place to turn the property into mixed use that includes residential. This is the future of downtown Dallas.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

I've heard that Museum Tower is over 50% sold. Would love it if Unfair Park could confirm this.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

 I thought the police & fire pension were an investor.  When did they acquire 100%?

md
md

 TMA moved into the building when they swapped spaces with TXU Energy Holdings. They were actually subleasing the space from them. Since they are moving, TXU has told the building's management they are not going to renew their lease. TMA currently occupies three to four floors in the building.

Stacy
Stacy

couldnt agree w/ u any better....mixed development is the future of the modern skyscrapper now.  skyscrapper now. 

Guest
Guest

What makes you think that?  How many 1.5 million square feet sky scrappers do you think are mixed use, even in cities with large residential populations?     

moderndrift
moderndrift

When it comes to condos, "sold" is a tricky proposition.  The buyer usually has almost unilateral right to back out at any point, and they don't go "hard" with their deposit until late in the game (exact timing depends on the state and their laws). When dealing with condos you always want to ask how many people have "hard" money down, not how many are sold, because that number is utterly worthless.

WalkableDFW
WalkableDFW

The problem is deeper than simple conversion to mixed-use.  

A few problems: 1) is the cost of transforming these office towers into residential , 2), can residential deliver the rents/returns that commercial space did, and 3) is there even enough demand to be in downtown Dallas to achieve those rents.  The rents of all the other downtown residential buildings would say, likely not.  That is not to say they can't be there in the future.  Then we have to start looking at why demand is low to live in downtown and why supply of residential is similarly though even though they are partially linked.  The #1 problem in downtown is that land costs are very high (as many landowners expect their land to be worth new towers) and well, demand is low.  Demand is a product of desirability, as is density.  Both are a product of spatial integration, but that discussion begins to get too wonky for a comments section.  As much as we like to thump our chest, exclaim bravado, and yelp, "world class!"  The things we "DO BIG," are only the ineffectual.  High cost, little return.  And as much as the downtown 360 plan wanted to avoid it, the answer is inner highway loop removal.  The cost of which would easily be paid for by the land sale, which then pays off by way of tax base, new, high quality, walkable urban neighborhoods near downtown, meaning a residential base that doesn't need massive amounts of infrastructure (which we can't afford) to get to a downtown office tower.  The inner loop highways make land next to them 1) undesirable and 2) inaccessible (part of the spatial integration aspect), so that the highest and best use all around the "ring" is parking lots, as you can observe.  What is built around the "ring," has either been the result of heavy subsidy or charity, the majority of which is tax-exempt.  We, downtown, will forever tread water if every project has to be subsidized and we can't "right-side" the equation of land cost and demand.Lastly, we have to look at having independent (or dependent) neighbors whose tax base is dependent on cheap and easy (or perceived) commutes into downtown as an advantage.  Houston, who annexed their 'burbs has to listen to them as constituents.  Dallas, in the interest of self-preservation, needs to make it harder to drive into downtown from far flung places.  

Guest
Guest

Stacy:   There are a few notable exceptions, but they are notable only because they are exceptions.  In NYC, the vast majority of office space is not shared with residential.  Same with LA and Chicago.  But even if it were true that other large cities were begining a mixed use building boom, it won't happen here.  Skyscrapper space is insanely expensive to build.  In some cities, that works because the footprint that a buidling sits on also is insanely expensive, so there is a financial motivation to build up.  In dallas, land is cheap and plentiful.  

Stacy
Stacy

actually there are SEVERAL 1.5 million sq ft MIXED development skyscrapers being built now... aside from Freedom Tower almost ALL new mega skyscrappers are MIXED development.... Chicago spire "defunct"  trump Chicago international hotel and residence...Time Warner Center NYC.....London Shard, Mercury Tower & Imperia Tower Moscow, Kingley Financial Tower China...the list goes on and on and all those towers are well above the 1.5 million sq ft mark.Infact outta the 10 tallest buildings in the world....only 2 are NOT mixed used ..so to reply to ur statement...more than 80% new "super tall' skyscrappers are being built as mixed use development......guesssome fialy realized not to put all your eggs in one basket...development......guesssome fialy realized not to put all your eggs in one basket...

Stacy
Stacy

I couldnt have agreed w/ u better...My comments were directed soley to the mixed use building design being the new trend in Urban design not in Dallas but in General. Downtown is already being inundated w/ empty office buildings ready for residential/mixed use redevelopment..Atmos, Continental, Statler Hilton, Practorean, Dallas High School and all the smaller buildings on Elm st in the so called "fire corridor"..I believe Downtown is slowly coming around and once these buildings flood the rental market down there I'm sure the desirability will be there I am worried however that the flood of apartments will stall the market down there for a while until desirability of urban living picks up, but atlas only time will tell As for your remark regarding the Highway ring....I agree w/ you but it seems like those problems are being addressed... Wooddall Rogers is fine the way it is...the West End Portal is an easy connection from Victory...The Park a couple blocks down will be fantastic and the Ross Connection...ugh..we'll see...the plans seemed blah. but atleast that side is taken care of for easy pedestrian connections..The East "I-30 is slated for a deckpark according to project pegasus and the 360 plan calls for an additional deck park at the Houston st viaducts if this goes according to plan this section is taken care of well since the sections not blocked by the gigantic wall of the convention center are being addressed......the 35 ring....ugh...were to start..This is extremely complicated.most of the area there is already built up and out. Here you have 2 problems....the railroad tracks...and the freeway ..the only section in need of sinkage is reunion blvd...which according to 360 is planing a deckpark or pedestrian passage..The main problem w/ the freeway ring is the North section by Deep Ellum.. the portals are not pedestrian friendly nor bike friendly at all....This section of Freeway is a prime candidate for removal or sinkage..so as for the freeway link making downtown undesirable I agree only to an extent since the other problems are being taken care of by either Dallas 360 or project pegasus..

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

 I agree with all of this, and my comment was carefully worded to say "long-term plan" for future conversion, as in 10-25 years down the road. Downtown is not in high demand now (although I live in the Kirby Building which is >%95 leased) but very well could be in the future.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

In the downtown core, land is neither cheap nor plentiful.  Height is necessary to cover costs.  But most, if not all, of the new buildings in the downtown area are mixed use and street level retail.  Converting existing office only will happen down the road.

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