A Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney team closed a $1.75 billion refinancing for Aventura Mall in about three months — a short time frame considering the size of both the loan and the mall.
Aventura Mall at 19501 Biscayne Blvd. is 2.9 million square feet, making it one of the biggest malls in the nation.
Most of the refinancing dollars cover an existing $1.2 billion loan taken out to refinance the mall mortgage.
“Every so often, mall owners, depending on the financial markets and the terms of the loan, will need to refinance their existing mortgage. So the $1.2 billion loan was the refinance of a mortgage at that time,” said Jack Kessler, a Buchanan Ingersoll shareholder who worked on the deal.
A smaller chunk of the money pays off a loan for the $214 million expansion project finished last November.
The mall added a 315,000-square-foot, three-story wing with stores, including British multinational men’s fashion retailer Topshop Topman, Spanish clothing and accessories retailer Zara and restaurants. Another notable part of the expansion is a 93-foot-high slide that opened in December.
About $330,000 was left from the $1.75 billion after paying the construction loan and mortgage, and Kessler declined to comment on this.
Part of the Buchanan Ingersoll team that represented mall owner Aventura Mall Venture is based in Fort Lauderdale and the rest mainly in Pittsburgh.
Kessler, shareholder Bruce Booken and counsel Rebecca Trinkler are in Fort Lauderdale.
Shareholders Rebecca Livingston Lando and Jason D’Amico as well as of counsel George Cass are in Pittsburgh, and associate Haley Ayure is in Tampa.
The lenders were JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley in the transaction that closed June 7.
The Buchanan Ingersoll team worked through the challenges of the transaction.
“It was a very involved transaction for a few reasons. One, just the size of the loan. And two, there were four different lenders that were involved in the facility, so we were dealing with a number of groups of lawyers and businesspeople on the Turnberry side and the Simon side,” Kessler said.
Mall owner Aventura Mall Venture is an affiliate of Turnberry Associates and Simon Property Gorup.
Development company Turnberry is co-owned by brother and sister Jeffrey and Jackie Soffer, the children of pioneering Aventura developer Donald Soffer. Simon Property, which has a one-third stake in the mall, owns retail centers throughout the U.S.. Other large South Florida assets include Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise and Dadeland Mall southwest of Miami, according to its website.
They pushed to close the deal in about three months to take advantage of favorable market conditions.
“They wanted to lock in a favorable interest rate right now for a stated period of time,” he said.
That made for a fast-paced transaction for the attorneys.
“The biggest challenge we had was getting it done in the timeline the client wanted to have the loan closed,” Kessler said.
While three months isn’t short for most transactions, it was in this case because of the breadth of the due diligence work by the attorneys, he said.
Kessler declined to give details on the duration and interest rate of the latest refinancing.
Buchanan Ingersoll has represented the Aventura Mall since 1990 on refinancing as well as on leasing and construction of mall additions. That long-term role helped the team close the most recent refinancing.
Over the years, “we’ve worked hard to understand the property and get to know their issues and their sensitivities,” Kessler said. That “facilitates a transaction like this current financing much more than if we didn’t have that history and learning curve and partnership, as I call it, with this client.”
Buchanan Ingersoll knows the loan terms Aventura Mall would be likely to accept.
“It’s one of the principal reasons — because we had a history like we had,” Kessler said.