Friday, October 1, 2010

Fitch Ratings Downgrades iStar Financial - Issues Warning

IStar Financial, the real estate lender who took over for Asbury Partners when the Partners couldn't pay iStar back, is facing significant debt maturities. That's high finance talk for they got some big money to pay off come springtime and that has Fitch, one of the Big Three bond rating agencies, quaking in its boots.
We've been fretting over iStar's financial health for nearly a year.
Asbury Radio first worried aloud last year on this site when iStar was in such a hurry to close in on a debtor in a near death real estate market that it moved in on Asbury Partners over Thanksgiving weekend.
Our first fear was a fire sale, based on the company's stock that had lost a great deal of market value and a hefty portfolio of non-performing loans. But if they've been unloading properties -- iStar valued its shares of Asbury Partners secured by property along our oceanfront here at $70 million -- we haven't noticed. But then, developers in this town are treated like dieties, no one dare address them directly or speak their names. What's all this confidential attitude doing for us?
We do we see them leveling buildings on lots along the waterfront though, which will reduce the value of those lots for tax purposes, thereby lowering the taxes iStar has to pay the City of Asbury Park.
It is time the City Fathers stopped meeting privately with these guys and brought these negotiations into the sunlight, cause so far that strategy has not worked very well.
PS - Have we taken back Metro Homes' property, The Esperanza site, for failure to build? At least if it were on our rolls again, the lot would show up as an asset, a real estate holding, when we have to go to the bond market ourselves. 

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