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DENVER-Veteran developer Randy Nichols signed a $63 million construction loan with a consortium of banks for the mixed-use project he is developing on the Sears Roebuck & Co. parking lot in tony Cherry Creek North. The loan, one of the biggest of its kind inked so far this year in the market, was led by Guaranty Federal Bank of Dallas.

Other banks participating include Vectra Bank of Denver, Compass Bank, and National City Bank of Cleveland. The loan is tied to LIBOR. Vectra Bank committed $10.5 million to the project, Bruce Alexander, president of Vectra, tells GlobeSt.com.

Alexander, who previously was a top executive for the Denver office of Bank One, says he did a number of deals with Nichols before he joined Vectra.

Alexander thinks the Cherry Creek deal, which will include retail, a hotel, office buildings (with Janus as a major tenant), and eventually residential, is the right development at the right location. Nichols began construction about six months ago. He says that he has been funding construction solely through equity.

Eric Tupler, an investment banker with L.J. Melody & Co., tells GlobeSt.com it is extremely difficult to convince lenders to make construction loans in today’s soft economy, especially for non-condo projects. Lenders are scrutinizing deals more than ever, he notes.

A deal of this magnitude not only reflects well on the Cherry Creek North project, but is a sign of confidence for the entire Denver area, he tells GlobeSt.com.

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