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CityWide secures $7 million in financing to spur re-do of Birmingham center

Al Urbanski
CityWide signed three new leases at Crestwood Festival Centre since acquiring it last month.

When Crestwood Festival Centre in Birmingham, Ala., got a new owner last month, it had 15 vacancies. Today it has 12, and that new owner has secured financing with intentions of filling those.

Baltimore-based CityWide Properties has secured $7 million in mortgage financing toward its $9.3 million acquisition cost that will require interest-only payments in its first year. That will allow the company to invest $1.5 million in capital improvements at the 299,707-sq.-ft. center, according to its president Steven Verstandig.

"Despite the widely recognized pressures facing America's retail sector today, keen-eyed investors and managers are able to attract financing on good terms," said Marc Tropp, senior managing director of Eastern Union, who arranged the deal. "I've represented CityWide for many years, and the lending community has long stood behind the wisdom of their investment strategy."

Citywide was founded in 2001 by Steven Verstandig, who attained his real estate license at age 18 and started buying properties while attending law school at Towson University. The company’s portfolio now includes 25 properties, many of them value-add retail center projects such as Crestwood, which is shadow-anchored by Home Depot.

We’ve had good success in renovating and leasing mixed-use and commercial properties," said Verstandig. "Over the years, we've forged a productive partnership with Eastern Union that has consistently secured the financing required to make our business formula work."

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