Monday, January 3, 2011

Mercantile Capital Corporation Ends Best Year Ever With Commercial Property Loans That Total More Than $140 million

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FL --- Mercantile Capital Corporation, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Old Florida National Bank that specializes in U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loans for small business owners who want to acquire or develop their own facilities, reported its best year ever in 2010.

Christopher Hurn (top right photo), chief executive officer of the seven-year old company, said Mercantile Capital Corp. closed 51 commercial loans in 2010 to finance projects that total $140.6 million in 13 states. This is the highest total number of loans closed in one year by the company since 2006, when it closed 56.

The largest single loan financed the $9.5 million acquisition of a grocery store in San Jose, California, Hurn said.

In December, Mercantile Capital Corp. closed on five loans to finance projects that total more than $7.9 million.

Altogether, loan volume in 2010 represents just over an 80 percent increase above 2009 volume, Hurn said.

“We project we will substantially increase our lending volume in 2011 as more small business owners realize that the SBA 504 program offers the best terms and conditions available in commercial property lending,” Hurn said.

“We are proud of our growth to date and our target is set on becoming the best provider of SBA 504 financing in the U.S.,” Hurn said.

Mercantile Capital Corp. expects to relocate its headquarters to the Old Florida National Bank building in Winter Park in the spring, Hurn added.  

For more information, contact:

Chris Hurn, CEO Mercantile Capital Corporation, 407-786-5040
 Larry Vershel, Larry Vershel Communications, 407-644-4142

CommerCenters LLC Forms American Performance Fund to Acquire University Science Center at Central Florida Research Park in Orlando

MAITLAND, FL--- CommerCenters, LLC, a real estate investment and development firm based in Maitland, has formed the American Performance Fund to acquire the 55,908 square foot University Science Center building located at 12001 Science Drive in the Central Florida Research Park adjacent to the University of Central Florida.

Richard Asta (middle left photo), president and chief operating officer of CommerCenters, LLC, said the American Performance Fund will acquire the building and its 5.19 acre site.

CommerCenters, LLC, will manage the property for American Performance Fund investors, Asta said.

Asta, who also serves as CEO of Realvest Development, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CommerCenters, LLC, said the multi-tenant University Science Center building is the first of several income and investment properties the American Performance Fund expects to acquire in the U.S. and overseas.

George Livingston (middle right photo), CIPS, chairman of CommerCenters, LLC, said  he expects American Performance Fund participants to include investors from the U.S., Panama, Brazil and China.

CommerCenters, LLC and its subsidiary, Realvest Development, LLC are involved in all aspects of speculative and build-to-suit commercial real estate investment and development from acquisition, planning, design, permitting, and construction through sale or lease.

 Over the past decade, CommerCenters and its development partners have developed over 1,500,000 square feet of industrial and office space in the Central Florida area.

For more information,  contact

Richard Asta, President/Chief Operating Officer CommerCenters LLC 407-875-9989
George Livingston, Chairman CommerCenters LLC 407-875-9989
Larry Vershel or Beth Payan, Larry Vershel Communications 407-644-4142

Grubb & Ellis Predicts Recovery in 2011 for All Property Categories

TAMPA, FL (Jan. 3, 2011) – Grubb & Ellis Company (NYSE: GBE), a leading real estate services and investment firm, today released its 2011 Real Estate Forecast, which foresees the start of a slow recovery in the leasing market for all property types in the coming year. 

Activity in the investment market, which began its recovery earlier than anticipated in 2010, will expand beyond assets at the top and bottom of the quality scale to include properties with slightly more risk.

 “All things being considered, 2010 was actually better than most anticipated it would be – we saw positive net absorption and an uptick in investment sales during the second half of the year, positioning us for a continued recovery in 2011,” said Robert Bach (top right photo), senior vice president, chief economist of Grubb & Ellis.

 “We have challenges to overcome, and we don’t expect fundamentals to return to their pre-recessionary peaks for several more years, but we’re slowly and cautiously building the foundation necessary to do just that.”

 In Central Florida, tenants held leverage in leasing transactions across the board throughout 2010, taking advantage of short term subleases at discounted rates and heavy concessions for longer term deals. 

Florida’s lagging employment recovery added to the strong demand for heavily discounted sublease space throughout the year. 

Tenants seeking long term deals in early 2011 may be enticed with generous tenant improvement packages.

 However, by year-end 2011, Grubb & Ellis forecasts the gap between effective rental rates and asking rates to narrow as absorption and vacancy figures stabilize and landlords become more confident.

“Tenants will remain in the driver’s seat in 2011,” stated Randy Buddemeyer (middle left photo), executive managing director, with Grubb & Ellis in the Southeast, “however, landlords will be less-inclined to allow tenants to lock in long-term at the currently deflated rates.”

 “With all of the capital that lenders and investors have been sitting on, they are more likely to consider transactions farther off the ‘fairway’ than we saw last year now that the capital markets are thawing,” said Bach.  “Look for investors to broaden their horizon beyond trophies and trainwrecks, which should result in a 75 percent increase in transaction dollar volume from 2010 levels.”

 The Central Florida office market showed signs of reaching bottom in 2010, with vacancy in the Orlando metropolitan area reaching the highest percentage in more than 10 years.

 Negative net absorption was recorded for the third consecutive year and asking rental rates continued to slide, but at a slower pace than the previous two years.  Grubb & Ellis forecasts rental rates will even out in 2011 and increase slightly toward the end of the year.

 Tenants should benefit from locking into deeply discounted rates for as long as possible as landlords seek to renew quality tenants in an effort to maintain occupancy levels.

 Leasing activity in the industrial sector improved dramatically in Central Florida throughout 2010 with occupancy levels rising slightly and absorption marking a turnaround in the Orlando metropolitan area. 

This improvement was aided by a halt in the construction pipeline and sliding rental rates, which are expected to rebound slightly in 2011 while new development remains stagnant.

 The current surplus of inventory will deter developers from starting any new speculative development in Central Florida.

Rachel Andreozzi, Phone:  561.893.6296,