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HOUSTON-Tower Associates, a New York City-based limited partnership, has obtained $75 million in a refinance of a first-mortgage loan to fund leases for the 41-story, 1.1-million-sf Marathon Oil Tower in the Galleria.

Through a sale-leaseback, Marathon Oil Co. has had its headquarters in the 5555 San Felipe St. office building since it delivered in the early 1980s. Just recently, Marathon signed a 15-year lease, effective December 2006 for 60% of the building. The master leaseholder has subleased about 30% of the class A space to several tenants.

“With the financing, the borrower will have about a year, from December, to convert those subleases to direct leases. Marathon will continue paying the existing leases until that time,” says Steve Shumake, vice president with Houston-based CBRE/Melody Co. He and colleague Tom Melody arranged the financing through AIG Inc.’s Houston office.

The seven-year loan, with a fixed rate of just under 5.5%, allows for two years of interest-only payments and then goes to a 30-year amortization, Shumake tells GlobeSt.com. The financing represents a 67% loan to value.

Shumake says about $46 million immediately will fund, with the remainder held as a forward commitment for the borrower to draw down as leases are signed. “At the end of the two-year period, the borrower can then either draw the remainder, or not borrow the money, and use it to pay down a portion of the loan at par,” he adds.

Shumake says a fair number of lenders made an offer on the deal, but AIG rose to the top fairly quickly. “This is a great property,” he adds. “In my estimation, it’s one of the top five buildings in the Houston marketplace.”

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