CHICAGO-The owners of the Sears Tower say they expect to save $10 million a year in interest after refinancing and closing on a $780-million loan from UBS. Carlton Group arranged the fixed-rate loan, which will have a term of 10 years. The Sears Tower, a 3.5-million-sf tower, is owned by 233 S. Wacker LLC, which includes American Landmark Properties, the Chetrit Group and the Moinian Group.

The new loan will have a fixed rate of 6.2%, replacing a variable rate loan that was currently at nearly 8%, Carlton Group chairman Howard Michaels tells The building was also appraised, during the process, at $1.2 billion. “Other than saving them like $10 million a year in interest it also gives them a very low long-term fixed rate which stabilizes the building,” he says. The $780-million interest-only loan is replacing a $825-million variable rate mortgage from Bank of America, says a source familiar with the transaction.

The refinancing comes at a time where the ownership has closed, during a three-month period, about 225,000 sf of new or expanded office leases, including an 11-year lease agreement for 63,813 sf for Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney that was recently signed. Several major tenants have recently renewed including law firm Schiff Hardin & Waite, Bank of America and law firm Latham Watkins while Ernst & Young has recently expanded.

“Through the refinance, Sears Tower plans to invest in a complete renovation of the Sears Tower Skydeck, which will give people glimpses into the inner workings of a skyscraper,” says a spokesperson for the building. More than one million people each year visit the Skydeck, on the 103rd floor of the building.

The financing was arranged by the Carlton Group, a national real estate investment banking firm, and “continues a string of large financings that we have done in Chicago,” Michaels says. Recent transactions include $522 million in acquisition financing for the Citadel Center, $310 million in preferred equity and debt acquisition financing for 311 S. Wacker Dr. and more than $200 million of acquisition and refinancing equity and debt capital for 550 W. Jackson Blvd.

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