Watergate Towers final chapter inches closer...

Posted by Expert Gadget Reviewer on Friday, 19 February 2010

The sad saga of Emeryville's Watergate Towers office complex is slowly grinding to an end. The story has been detailed exhaustively, but lets get everyone caught up:

  • December 2006: Hines and CALPERS in a joint-venture proudly buy 3 out of 4 of the Watergate Office Towers, plus the Chevy's resturant located within the complex. The price tag is a staggering $420.00 per square foot (estimated). Hines purchases the fourth office tower on its own.
  • July 2009: Rumbles that Watergate I, II, & III, are heading into default on a $152 million loan - one of the early local casualties of the commercial real estate crash. Pacific National Bank (the debt holder), prepares to take the buildings "back" from the Hines and CALPERS joint venture. Interestingly, the fourth tower (owned solely by Hines) is not involved in the action.
  • November 2009: Pacific National Bank, critically wounded by heavy commercial real estate losses, is seized by the FDIC, and immediately sold (over a weekend) to US Bank.
  • February 2010: US Bank "officially" becomes the owner of Watergate I, II, & III
So - winners and losers: Winners:

  • Hines: Yes Hines is a winner. They still own Watergate Tower IV, which is fully leased to Oracle and Novartis.
  • TMG Partners: Appointed by the Alameda County court as receiver for the buildings, TMG figured out a way to still make money in commercial real estate.
  • US Bank: Picked up a trophy property on the cheap.

  • CALPERS: Ouch, state retirees end up with less than zero on their "safe" investment.
  • Pacific National Bank: One bad loan can spoil the whole bank
  • Zynga: (huh...) Yes, Zynga was in the midst of closing a lease for their new offices last fall, when the deal blew up because the landlord lost its financing from (you guessed it) Pacific National Bank. With no construction financing available, the landlord could no longer finance the Tennant Improvements it had promised, and Zynga ended up pulling out of the deal.
Final chapter on this one isn't written yet --