Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Florida’s Super Lawyers

Attorneys from Tripp Scott and Ratzan & Rubio were recently recognized as Florida 2010 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars.

Super Lawyers magazine is a listing of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

From Tripp Scott in Ft. Lauderdale

Edward Pozzuoli, president

Super Lawyer in business litigation

Edwards R. Curtis, director

Super Lawyer in personal injury plaintiff: products

Paul Lopez, director

Super Lawyer in labor and employment

Alexander Brown, associate

Rising Star in business litigation and labor and employment

From Ratzan, Rubio in Miami, Florida

Stuart N. Ratzan

Super Lawyer in Personal Injury Plaintiff: Medical Malpractice

Maria L. Rubio

Super Lawyer in Personal Injury Plaintiff: Medical Malpractice

G. Scott Vezina

Super Lawyer in Florida Rising Stars

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thorp & Company president, Patricia Thorp, judges for the Influential Business Women Awards

The South Florida Business Journal recently invited Patricia Thorp to serve on the advisory panel for its 2010 Influential Business Women Awards.

On this panel she selected the top 25 business women candidates from across South Florida with the criteria being:

  • leadership
  • performance within their industries
  • innovation within their industries
  • meaningful community involvement

Patricia was asked to be part of the panel based upon her own history of leadership, performance and innovation in public relations.

Winners of the 2010 Influential Business Women Awards will be announced in a special ceremony on September 16.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Kaufman, Rossin's Steven Demar discusses importance of cash flow in Florida Real Estate Journal

The Florida Real Estate Journal has published an article from Kaufman, Rossin principle Steven Demar that discusses the importance of cash flow for commercial real estate businesses.

Read the full article at:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tripp Scott's Matthew Zifrony discusses CMBS loans in today's Daily Business Review

10 percent of CMBS loans in default, and rising
Daily Business Review
By: Polyana da Costa
June 10, 2010

lan Gross and his partners didn’t expect to become part of the commercial real estate meltdown when they bought a Boca Raton office building for $20 million.

But months after last year’s purchase, the $18 million loan they assumed became a small piece of the more than $1.6 billion of commercial mortgage-based securities loans that are delinquent in South Florida.

More than 10 percent of South Florida’s CMBS loans are delinquent, compared with the national delinquency rate of about 8.4 percent, according New York-based real estate research company Trepp, which tracks CMBS loans.

The local delinquency rate is expected to climb until at least mid-2011, said Trepp vice president Paul Mancuso.

Gross and his partners bought the Compson Financial Center in April 2009 through an entity called 980 North Federal Highway LLC, which assumed the mortgage on the property. At the time, it seemed like a good deal. The building had sold for $26 million in 2005, was 91 percent leased, and the rental income was enough to cover the mortgage payments.

Today, the building is 53 percent occupied, worth about $10 million at most, and rental income is barely a third of the more than $100,000 monthly mortgage payment.

“We are still losing tenants,” Gross said. “Not only have rents declined tremendously, but tenants also are looking for large tenant-improvement packages to sign a new lease; plus the building is so far underwater.”

Gross said he tried to work out a deal with the special servicer, Miami Beach-based LNR, to buy the note for less than the principal balance, but LNR had “unrealistic” expectations.

LNR representatives did not return a call seeking comment.

Gross said he is negotiating a deed in lieu of foreclosure to surrender the property in a “smooth transition.”

Fortunately for Gross and his partners, the loan was nonrecourse, which means they are not personally liable for the debt.

Distressed properties, like the Compson Financial Center, that are worth less than the remaining loan amount have contributed in large part to the troubled CMBS loans across the area.

In Sunrise, another property in distress because of the loss of a tenant is the former regional headquarters of Canadian telecom company Nortel Networks.

According to Trepp, TMW, an investment fund managed by an arm of Prudential Real Estate Investors, was more than 60 days delinquent on its $26.5 million loan for the building at the end of May.

TMW paid $40.7 million for the 185,000-square foot property in 2006. The building was constructed to house Nortel’s corporate offices in 1995. Nortel, which has vacated the building, occupied most of the property at one time. Pediatrix Medical Group continues to occupy some space and pays about $78,000 in rent per month, according to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in Delaware. Nortel’s lease was to expire in 2017. It asked the court to allow the termination of the lease as it reduced its workforce.

Nortel was paying more than $245,000 in monthly rent, according to court records. TMW’s mortgage is not due until 2016, but it went into default after Nortel left the building.

“We are meeting our financial obligations and are actively seeking a new tenant for this property,” a Prudential Real Estate representative said. She declined further comment.


Properties with high vacancy rates have little chance of being refinanced, especially because of tighter lending regulations implemented since the global financial crisis, said Matthew Zifrony, an attorney and director at Tripp Scott.

“We are hearing this from time to time from lenders: ‘I would love to lend you that money, but if I make this loan, I’ll run afoul of the regulators.”

Some of the CMBS delinquencies can be blamed on the lack of refinancing of loans for properties — including those with high occupancy levels and financially strong tenants — that are current but are coming due, Mancuso said. But in many of those cases, he said, lenders have been more flexible in giving extensions.

“We are seeing two scenarios: troubled properties, where there is a cash flow problem — and in those cases the lenders are forced to foreclose and take ownership — and cases with properties in a strong market with strong fundamentals. And in those situations, we are seeing the volume of loan modifications rise.”

One high-profile South Florida property, the Cocowalk retail center in Miami’s Coconut Grove area, recently was able to work out a loan modification after it was hit with a $97.6 million foreclosure lawsuit from the Bank of America, the trustee on the CMBS mortgage.

A spokeswoman for PMAT CocoWalk, which owns the 200,000-square-foot retail center, said the owner has “worked diligently” with the lender over the past several months to restructure the mortgage.

She said PMAT closed “the loan modification with no change of the ownership or of the operating entity,” at the end on May. The modification document has not yet been recorded in Miami-Dade County records.

Zifrony said he represents several lenders and borrowers in CMBS workouts. He blames some of the high CMBS delinquencies on lenders. He said many resist working with borrowers on a loan modification prior to default, when the troubled borrower is still paying. He said CMBS lenders are more open to negotiations once a loan goes into default.

“It’s frustrating that I still see out there lenders that continue to treat borrowers that are delinquent entirely differently than borrowers that are paying,” he said. “The only way a lender will work with [borrowers] is if they are delinquent.”

Fort Lauderdale broker Lloyd Berger, who has been appointed receiver on several commercial deals, including some backed by CMBS loans, said the larger the loan, the more inclined the lender is to opt for a workout.


The hospitality sector is one that is increasingly in need of workouts. With more than $300 million in past-due CMBS loans, hotels account for about 17 percent of all CMBS defaults in South Florida.

Owners of the Palm Beach Gardens Marriott have been delinquent on their $50 million loan since late last year. An entity managed by executives at Investcorp, a New York investment company, paid more than $59 million for the 279-room hotel in 2007. The hotel is assessed by the property appraiser’s office at $34 million.

John Fraser, the co-head of Investcorp’s real estate group, did not return a call seeking comment.

Another hotel with a troubled loan is the Carlton Hotel in Miami Beach’s South Beach district. The hotel’s owner, Carlton Hotel LLC, has been in default on a $13 million mortgage since December. The entity formed to managed the CMBS loan, JPMCC 2007 CIBC19 Collins Lodging, filed to foreclosure on the hotel late last month. The case is pending.

Among other major South Florida hotels with troubled CMBS loans is the high-profile Shore Club in South Beach. After defaulting on a $110 million loan, owner Philip Pilevsky was hit with a foreclosure lawsuit in March. Even at rates ranging from a few hundred dollars to $3,000 per night, the hotel has seen its revenue drop by more than half, according to reports by the Morgans Hotel Group, which managed the property for Pilevsky.

“Office, hotels and the retail market have all been hit really hard,” Gross said. “But if you think the hotel market is hurting now, just wait until that oil [from the Gulf of Mexico spill] hits our coast.”


South Florida’s commercial loan delinquencies are expected to continue to rise, Mancuso said. He predicts South Florida’s CMBS delinquency rate could hit 12 percent or 13 percent by mid-2011.

“By then, the [loans originated in 2005 through 2007] will have worked their way through system,” he said.

Mancuso said the volume of loans transferred into special servicing has and will continue to rise over the next months.

“I think we are two-thirds of the way through” the CMBS problems, he said.

On Wednesday, the ratings agency Fitch Ratings announced another troubled loan in Boca Raton. The $24.5 million CMBS loan secured by a 132,000-square-foot building at 7000 W. Palmetto Park Road was transferred to special servicing due to “imminent default,” according to Fitch. The building’s main tenant is Bank of America.

Some South Florida real estate professionals say they realize there are more troubled commercial loans ahead, but they believe the worst has passed.

“I don’t expect it’s going to get that much worse,” Berger said. “More loans are going to go into default, but I don’t think it will trickle down to pure devastation like some people are expecting.”

Zifrony agreed.

“I think there are a lot of signs out there to show that, while things are not getting significantly better, they are not getting significantly worse.”

Tripp Scott's Ed Pozzuoli comments on government spending in today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel today published an op-ed from Tripp Scott president Ed Pozzuoli about how the growth in government spending and waste is causing irreparable damage to the economy.

Read the full article at,0,4554249.story

Monday, June 7, 2010

Steven Hayworth, president of Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust, quoted in The New York Times

Steven Hayworth, president of Gibraltar Private Bank and Trust, was recently quoted in a New York Times article about teaching the value of hard work to children of wealthy parents.

Read the article at

Hudak On Hollywood Comments on Dismal Memorial Day Weekend Box Office

Dan Hudak, a multimedia film critic and creator of, recently commented on the dismal Memorial Day weekend box office, which traditionally sets the tone for the summer movie season. According to the number of tickets sold over the holiday weekend were about 23.4 million, the lowest since 1993.

Not even the stiletto-clad ladies of "Sex in The City 2" were daring enough to make a dent Memorial Day weekend, they shimmied into the third spot. Behind that came "The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" and the movie that raked in the most green for the second weekend in a row was "Shrek Forever After."

So what's to blame for the lusterless summer movie season? Check out Dan's comments to The Christian Science Monitor and go to his website to see which summer flicks are creating a buzz.

Link to Article: