July 25, 2018

Woods Oviatt Steers AXA Life's $75 Million Queens Office Loan - As seen in Law360

Woods Oviatt Steers AXA Life's $75M Queens Office Loan

By Andrew McIntyre

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Law360 (July 6, 2018, 5:15 PM EDT) -- Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP represented AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co. in connection with its $75.35 million loan to Muss Development for an office and retail property on Queens Boulevard in Queens, according to records made public in New York on Friday.

The financing is for the Forest Hills Tower at 118-35 Queens Blvd., and of that $75.35 amount, roughly $2.5 million is new capital for the property, with the remainder for assumption and refinance of pre-existing debt at the property.

The 17-story tower has 375,000 square feet of space and 582 parking spaces.

The property is located close to the Union Turnpike - Kew Gardens subway station, where the E and F trains stop. Willow Lake is just north of the property.

"Forest Hills Tower is the largest, most accessible Class A office building in Queens," Muss Development's website states. "Close proximity to major highways and mass transit (the E and F subways are at the building’s front door), spectacular, panoramic views from every floor and as-of-right economic incentives make Forest Hills Tower a prestigious and practical business address."

Tenants at the tower include Cushman & Wakefield, Plaza College, Mutual of America, Child Center of NY, the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services' Computer Testing & Applications Center, NYC DCAS - Board of Education, Regus, Signature Bank and Tectonic Engineering & Survey, according to Muss Development's website.

Floors seven and eight, each of which has 21,808 square feet of office space, are currently unoccupied, as are two portions of the 15th floor, according to Muss Development.

AXA Equitable Life Insurance couldn't be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

The firm has been active on the commercial real estate lending front of late, as developers increasingly look to nonbank sources of funding, such as insurance companies, amid heightened regulations on banks.

Last summer, AXA provided an $85 million loan to Rudin Management Co. Inc. for an apartment building in Manhattan, and looked to Kelley Drye & Warren LLP for counsel on that loan.

Muss Development couldn't be immediately reached for comment on Friday on the latest loan. The company on its website says "significant capital improvements" at Forest Hills Tower are underway.

The company is planning improvements to the building's HVAC systems lobbies, elevators and outdoor plaza.

Counsel for AXA Equitable Life Insurance couldn't be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

Muss Development used an LLC for the loan: CET LLC. Mortgage recording tax on the approximately $2.5 million of new financing is roughly $70,300, and the remainder of the loan is not subject to mortgage recording tax. AXA Equitable Life Insurance is represented by Benjamin Keller of Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP. Borrower-side counsel information was not immediately available on Friday. --Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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