August 26, 2009

Upscale S. Florida complex in foreclosure

The owner of a prestigious office complex in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is facing foreclosure on the property, court filings indicate.

BentleyForbes of Los Angeles, owner of the Las Olas Centre, is being sued by Wachovia Bank after allegedly defaulting on more than $220 million in loans, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Wednesday.

Stephen Meister, a lawyer for BentleyForbes, told the newspaper Wachovia asked to help underwrite the company's planned initial public offering and urged the company to buy the Las Olas Centre with temporary financing provided by the bank. But the IPO market collapsed and now Wells Fargo Bank, Wachovia's owner, is trying to strip us of our equity and our hard work, without any chance to "¦ work out the terms of this, Meister said.

The Sun-Sentinel said a Wells Fargo spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The newspaper reported BentleyForbes bought the 12-year-old Las Olas Centre in 2007 for about $231 million, or nearly $500 a square foot. Its tenants reportedly include Huizenga Holdings, SmithBarney and the Samba Room restaurant.