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Owner of midtown Phoenix high-rise files for Chapter 11

[Source: J. Craig Anderson, Arizona Republic] — The owner of Century Plaza, a [midtown] Phoenix high-rise office tower converted into condominiums, filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week.  Windsor Century Plaza LLC, owned by Phoenix-based Equus Realty LLC, had sold only 14 of the building’s 145 units when lead creditor M&I Thunderbird Bank placed the property in receivership in December.

M&I, the sole secured creditor, is laying claim to the high-rise building at 3225 N. Central Ave., which has an estimated value of $19 million.  Documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court said that M&I is owed an additional $23 million, for a total of $42 million.  The company also has dozens of unsecured creditors, with about $3.5 million in additional claims.  The largest unsecured creditor is Phoenix-based Summit Builders, owed $1.6 million.  The Phoenix Treasurer’s Office is owed $40,000 in delinquent property taxes, and the Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office is owed $12 million, according to the filing.  [Note: Read the full article at Owner of midtown Phoenix high-rise files for Chapter 11.]

Number of metro Phoenix mechanic’s liens triple since 2005

Rendering of Hotel Monroe, Phoenix, AZ

[Source: Jan Buchholz, Phoenix Business Journal] — Hundreds of mechanic’s liens are being filed each month in the Valley by contractors and subcontractors that haven’t been paid for their work.  Industry experts say the liens, some in the millions of dollars, are a strong indicator of stress in the real estate community.  “Liens are a great way of seeing what’s coming ahead.  A glut of liens is a bad sign,” said Zach Bowers, a researcher for Ion Data Express, a Valley real estate data firm.

In fact, the numbers are startling compared with previous years.  In 2005, 1,752 mechanic’s liens were filed with the Maricopa County Recorder’s office.  Through Aug. 6 of this year, 5,303 liens were filed.  If that rate continues, the number of mechanic’s liens filed will more than double the 4,152 liens filed in 2007.   “We have filed a ton of liens,” said Janet Summers, owner of Van Rylin Associates Inc. in Tucson, which researches and files mechanic’s liens on behalf of clients all over Arizona.

Summers believes the mortgage and banking industries are to blame.  In many cases, she said, developers did not receive the full amount of money promised them.  In other cases, banks and other lenders suddenly have called loans or refused to extend credit lines to worthy parties because of market fears, she said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Top 10 Mechanic’s Liens Filed in 2008 (Downtown/Midtown Phoenix Only)

#1. Summit Builders Construction Co. ($5.68 million)
Lien filed against: Hotel Monroe, Central & Monroe LLC, Grace Communities
Type of project: Luxury boutique hotel, historic preservation

#4. The Weitz Co. ($3.21 million)
Lien filed against: The Summit at Copper Square LLC
Type of project: High rise condominiums

#5. Gold Creek Inc. ($3.05 million)
Lien filed against: Mortgages Ltd. in connection with Chateaux on Central
Type of project: Luxury condominiums