In a major coup for its real estate advisory business, Chemical Banking Corp. has engineered the sale of a 76-acre shopping mall near Seattle for about $100 million.
Chemical Realty Group represented the seller, Ohio developer Edward J. DeBartolo, and won plaudits from competitors for closing at a price expected to produce a yield to the investor of only 6%.
The low yield reflects the perceived stability of the million-square-foot property. In today's market, investors typically demand double-digit yields to assume the risk involved with commercial real estate ventures.
A Revival of Interest
Finding a buyer with a long-term view also helped. In the mall transaction, which closed in November, sources said the acquirer is the New York Common Fund, a state public employees retirement fund.
"It was a very good price for the seller and an excellent long-term investment for the buyer," said Benjamin M. McGrath, a Chemical Realty vice president and point man in the transaction.
The transaction attracted several bidders, which is unusual for the weak market, according to Mr. McGrath. "There was a lot of interest," he said.
The Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, woich opened in 1979, is in one of the few economically healthy regions of the nation. The mall is 100% leased. And it is anchored by five blue-chip retailers, most notably a Nordstrom Department Store.
"The rule of thumb is if you have Nordstrom, you can raise money," one real estate investment specialist said.
A Nordstrom was added to a New Jersey mall, for example, and "we have people waiting in line to get in," noted Richard E. Green, president of Westfield, the mall's manager.
Still, the initial real estate capitalization rate - or yield - of 6% was unusually low, said Ronald B. Bruder, president of the Brookhill Group, which owns and manages a portfolio of shopping centers and other properties.
A banker who competes with Chemical's real estate unit acknowledged that the deal "is seen as an aggressive transaction" for the seller.
Mr. DeBartolo's privately held firm - Edward J. DeBartolo, based in Youngstown, is reportedly undergoing a restructuring that will shift its emphasis from ownership and development to management.
The firm built and designed the mall in Seattle and has managed it since it opened. It will continue to manage the property for the pension fund.
A Lean Year
Chemical is one of several banks focusing on fee-generating businesses in the real estate sector. But it is one of the very few to get a big deal done this year.
Market sources said a seller's representative usually gets from 1% to 2% of the price, indicating that Chemical's fee was $1 million to $2 million.
Aside from Nordstrom, anchors at the mall include J.C. Penney, lamont's, Sears, and the Bon Marche. A total of 154 stores lease space at the mall.
Mr. McGrath said Chemical has a longtime banking relationship with Mr. DeBartolo. Chemical arranged three issues of securities totaling $340 million, to provide permanent 10-year financing for DeBartolo properties in the late 1980s.
In addition to the sale of the mall, Chemical placed several apartment financings during the year. "We have a pretty full plate for 1992," he said, noting a specialty in military housing.