WHITE PLAINS-Although it was expected for some time, the demise of once high-flying Ameriquest Mortgage and sister company Argent Mortgage will officially put more than 500,000 sf of space on the market for lease here. On Friday, ACC Capital Holdings Inc., the Orange, CA-based parent company of Ameriquest Mortgage and Argent Mortgage, sold its wholesale mortgage origination and mortgage servicing assets–Argent Mortgage–to Citigroup Inc.

Citigroup’s deal with ACC Capital includes the servicing rights on $45 billion of loans, as well as a “minimal amount of existing loans and residuals.” In addition, Chris Orlando, with ACC Capital Holdings, says “ACC is in the process of orderly winding down its retail [Ameriquest Mortgage] operation.” He has no timetable on when Ameriquest operations will officially cease. However, for more than a month the firm has not been accepting mortgage applications.

Ameriquest and Argent rode the wave of the housing boom and in their heyday sponsored Nascar racers, flew blimps over major sporting events and even spent millions to have the Texas Rangers name its home field in Arlington, TX–Ameriquest Field. But the mortgage firms began to show signs of weakness as the residential housing market slowed down in 2005 and 2006.

Argent Mortgage made a big splash in Westchester County in February 2003 when it leased 118,000 sf of space at Cohen Brothers Realty Corp.’s 333 Westchester Ave. building in White Plains. Later that year, Argent expanded its presence there to approximately 210,000 sf.

If that were not enough, Ameriquest signed a major lease for 223,366 sf of space on behalf of its sister firm Argent, at 44 South Broadway in White Plains. Later, the firm expanded its operations at that building as well, leasing a total of approximately 325,000 sf.

In March, GlobeSt.com exclusively reported that local brokerage sources said that all of Argent’s space at 44 South Broadway and at 333 Westchester Ave. was on the market for sublease. An official with Cohen Brothers Realty Corp. had no comment on the status of the more than 200,000-sf Argent lease at 333 Westchester Ave.

Greg Frisoli, senior director of Cushman & Wakefield, and leasing agent for 44 South Broadway, tells GlobeSt.com that Ameriquest and building owner Beacon Capital Partners reached a lease termination agreement this past June and the Argent space at the property, also known as Westchester One, is now available on a direct basis with the building owner.

Recently, Disney Publishing signed a lease for 60,000 sf of the former Argent space, and will be relocating its corporate headquarters from Manhattan. “We’ve had some very good serious inquiries from prospects” for the remainder of the Argent space, Frisoli notes. However, to date no other lease deals have been signed.

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