April 2012

Douglas Wilson Companies in the Washington Post

by DWC Team on April 20, 2012

Douglas Wilson Companies’ role in turning around and finishing two distressed east coast assets was highlighted in The Washington Post. The recent article, titled “What Opus East started is now finished,” delves into the two surviving Opus East deals:

The eastern arm of what is now known as Minnesota-based Opus Group, Opus East had offices in Rockville and was active in some of the area’s hottest neighborhoods until it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in July 2009, opting to liquidate its holdings rather than try to resuscitate them.

Three years later, however, some of the company’s Washington area deals found success long after the team that acquired and designed the projects scattered. Two of the projects were recently completed with money from the bank providing original financing, and both have found new buyers.

A partially built 268,762 square-foot College Park research center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was abandoned when Opus East filed for bankruptcy, with an estimated $60 million in construction still needed. A 10-story office project at 1015 Half St. SE was left as a skeleton.

Bank of America had nearly $300 million in construction loans on the two projects. When Opus ran into trouble, the bank asked for a court-appointed receiver, Douglas Wilson Cos. of San Diego, to manage the properties. “I think many financial institutions would have just said, ‘Let’s liquidate our position,’” Douglas Wilson said. “You can sell a partially built building, but you’ll probably get 30 cents on the dollar.”

Instead, Bank of America stuck it out — a testament to the strength of the Washington market. Wilson brought in new contractors to finish the projects with Bank of America funds. New York-based Acquest Development bought the NOAA building at the end of last year and Prudential Real Estate Investors is purchasing the Half Street building. Bank of America spokeswoman Shirley Norton said in an e-mail that the bank was “for the most part, repaid.”

To read the full article on The Washington Post website, click here.

Completed Half Street Building

A recent article in The Daily Transcript titled “Douglas Wilson completes two DC area buildings” featured two of our recent receivership properties:

The Douglas Wilson Cos. has completed two major building projects in the Washington, D.C. area – the new home for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Opus East Half Street office building.

Wilson, who acted as the receiver for both projects, explained that the NOAA building got off to a promising start in 2006.  Three years later, however, amid a series of disputes and lawsuits, the lease was in default and the project had abruptly stopped.

Wilson immediately began discussions with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the agency responsible for meeting the space requirements of federal agencies, and Bank of America, which provided financing for the NOAA building. At the time of the default, the project was nearly two-thirds complete, but it still required more than $65 million to be finished.

After working with Congressional officials, the GSA and BofA and others, Wilson arrived at a solution that enabled NOAA Maryland LLC to purchase the 270,000-square-foot NOAA building under construction last December.

The 400,000-square-foot Opus East Half Street office building is located in the Capitol Riverfront District of Washington, D.C., two blocks from the Washington Nationals’ new ballpark and near the U.S. Capitol. As Receiver, DWC was responsible for coordinating development and construction activities for the Opus property while negotiating the settlement of numerous mechanics’ lien claims in an effort to prepare the asset for takeout financing by another financial institution.

“This project was only about 40 percent built when we took over as Receiver;” said Wilson. “Less than two years later, it was ready for occupancy.”

Visit the San Diego Daily Transcript website to read the full article (subscription required).