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SEATTLE, WA-The Los Angeles-based real estate investment banking firm of Sonnenblick-Eichner Co. has announced its arrangement of a $36.05-million long-term, fixed-rate first mortgage for Seattle’s WestCoast Grand Hotel on Fifth Avenue. The 297-room four-star property is owned by Spokane, WA-headquartered WestCoast Hospitality Corp.

One of WestCoast Hospitality Corp.’s brand of four-star Grands, the 297-room hotel’s history has a twist. The tower at 1415 Fifth Ave. began as the regional headquarters of US Bank. In 1995, Cavanaugh’s, the predecessor of WestCoast, purchased the property and remodeled it to the present-day form. In addition to the hotel, the property includes 13,900 sf of meeting and banquet facilities, two restaurants and 22,000 sf of class-A office space, with 8,264 sf of ground floor bank space.

West Coast vice president Stephen Barbieri tells GlobeSt.com that the Grand at Fifth Avenue had previously been financed through its credit facility, a syndicate of banks lead by US Bank. “The time was right to refinance,” says Barbieri, adding “We wanted to change from the (previous) variable rate and lock in long-term financing to take advantage of the favorable interest rate environment.”

In the company’s second quarter 2001 statement issued July 30th, WestCoast says its interest expense declined 19.5%, from $3.7 million in the same quarter in 2000, to $3.0 million this year. Says WestCoast, “The decline was a result of lower interest rates and less outstanding debt.”

Altogether, WestCoast Hospitality owns, manages or franchises 46 full-service hotels in nine Western states. Despite nationally weak economic conditions, WestCoast reported a hotel-room revenue-increase of 1.6% to $45.5 million, up from $44.8 million in the second quarter last year. Earnings per share increased 132%, from $0.15 in the second quarter of 2000, to $0.35 during the comparable period in 2001.

Sonnenblick-Eichner specializes in the financing and sale of institutional quality commercial real estate. Its principals recently completed several transactions with hospitality-related properties in California. They include the $243-million sale of the Westin St. Frances Hotel in San Francisco, construction and mini-perm financing for the 400-room, $250-million St. Regis Monarch Beach Hotel in Dana Point, and $24.5-million interim leasehold financing for the 500-room WestCoast Anaheim Hotel. Permanent financing of $38.5 million was also transacted for three Marriott hotels in New Orleans.

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