CenTrust Tower Sold by RTC For 30% of Cost

WASHINGTON -- The Resolution Trust Corp. has found a buyer for CenTrust Tower, the Miami skyscraper of the failed CenTrust Savings Bank, at a bargain-basement price of $45 million, or about 30% of the construction cost.

The low price and favorable financing terms offered to Winthrop Financial Corp., a Boston-based real estate firm, indicate how the RTC is trying to move assets out of its inventory.

The sale program accelerated on Wednesday when the agency put 21 thrifts on the block, including such former highfliers as Sunbelt Federal Savings, Dallas; Columbia Savings and Loan, Beverly Hills, Calif.; and Far West Savings and Loan, Newport Beach, Calif.

Low Bids Expected

Analysts say the RTC should expect low bids from prospective buyers because the banking system is awash in liquidity.

"Banks need earning assets, not deposits and branches," said Frank Anderson, an analyst with Stephens Inc., Little Rock, Ark.

Paperwork was in preparation on Thursday for the sale of CenTrust Tower to Winthrop Financial. RTC real estate director Lamar Kelly said the agency will finance about 60% of the $45 million purchase price, or $27 million.

Of the remaining 40%, or $18 milion, Winthrop was expected to make a down payment of only about $3 million and put the rest in an escrow account for repairs.

New Funds Needed

The RTC did not get the $50 million it was looking for earlier this year. It will have to return to Congress this summer and ask for more money to finance its bailout activities.

CenTrust Tower, a 45-story glass-and-steel cylinder that graced the opening of the Miami Vice television series, became one of the symbols of savings and loan profligacy.

Completed in 1986 and designed by the renowned architect I.M. Pei, the tower has gilt ceilings, two Italian marble staircases, and two bullet-proof floors -- all cited by regulators as examples of how former chairman David Paul allegedly misallocated depositors' money. Mr. Paul is now in a legal dispute over his treatment by regulators.

The 21 S&Ls offered for sale this week have a combined $33.5 billion in deposits and $41.6 billion in assets.

The list includes Goldome Federal Savings Bank of St. Petersburg, an affiliate of a similarly named New York State thrift that was seized last week by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; and Olympic Federal Savings Association, Berwyn, Ill., which unsuccessfully challenged thrift regulators' policies for the treatment of goodwill on its balance sheet.

Others for sale are Jefferson Federal Savings and Loan, Birmingham, Ala.; Savers Savings, Little Rock, Ark.; American Pioneer Federal Savings Bank, Orlando, Fla.; AmeriFirst Federal Savings Bank, Miami; Hollywood (Fla.) Federal Bank; and Professional Federal Savings Bank, Coral Gables, Fla.

Also, ComFed Savings Bank, Lowell, Mass.; Home Federal Savings Association of Kansas City, Mo.; First Federal Savings Association of Raleigh, N.C.; First Atlantic Federal Savings Association, Plainfield, N.J.; Central Federal Savings, Long Beach, N.Y.; First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Toledo, Ohio; Atlantic Financial Savings, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.; Bell Federal Savings Bank, Upper Darby, Pa.; Coreast Federal Savings Bank, Richmond; and TrustBank Federal Savings Bank, Tysons Corner, Va.

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