No sign of financing for Broadway-Navy project

High and dry

Doug Manchester’s Broadway-Navy  project is hundreds of millions away from becoming a reality.
  • Doug Manchester’s Broadway-Navy project is hundreds of millions away from becoming a reality.

The new year has dawned with no sign of long-promised financing for ex–Union-Tribune owner Douglas Manchester’s $650 million Broadway-Navy project downtown. Back in October, Berkadia Hotels and Hospitality Group, a mortgage broker co-owned by Warren Buffett, said it had been “tasked with sourcing a 50 percent [loan-to-cost] non-recourse construction loan that will close by year-end 2017.” A year ago, Manchester finally won a years-long legal battle with those opposed to the design and scale of the sprawling high-rise bayfront complex at the foot of Broadway and vowed to proceed immediately. But absent funding, the Republican mogul, who continues to await Senate confirmation as Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Bahamas, has been limited to tearing down buildings.

Meanwhile, a November 16, 2017, filing by New York–based Cantor Commercial Real Estate Lending has revealed that the developer’s Manchester Financial Building, L.P. borrowed a cool $25.5 million this past September 12 against the former Mr. A’s building in Bankers Hill. Manchester bought that property in November 2016 for a reported $71.5 million and promptly emblazoned his name at the top. Bearing a mortgage interest rate of 4.5 percent, the Cantor loan matures on October 6, 2027, the document says.

The 2017 battle against SoccerCity, an effort by a group of La Jolla hedge-fund managers to privatize the city-owned property that used to be called Qualcomm Stadium, has been costly for Mission Valley developer Thomas Sudberry and his Sudberry Properties. Per his end-of-year major donor report, Sudberry forked over a total of $684,000 to Public Land, Public Vote, the political committee he set up with fellow property owner H.G. Fenton Company to stop the putative soccer stadium and surrounding commercial development.

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Maybe Trump could make a deal and put his name on it.

Manchester uses the Trump real estate template: always use someone else's money, but put your name on the project. Like Trump, Manchester most likely overstates his income/net worth, and relies on heavy debt. Another problem with the Broadway-Navy project: the design is nothing special, and gets a C+ rating in my view. It could have been a spectacular, "wow" project if the guy had better taste in building design, and/or hired the right architectural firm.

Then having no taste is also something they have in common.

Did the planners allow for ocean rise? That land will be underwater by 2033.

"Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Bahamas…"; No doubt he offers some unique qualifications. Mostly the amount he invested in the Trump candidacy. What, exactly, are the duties of such an ambassador? What's the pay? What are the additional perks? Hey, I'm looking out for Papa Doug here; I wanna see he gets his money's worth!

I think the main duty is that the ambassador will assist crooked Republicans and FOTs (Friends Of Trump) in opening up secret bank accounts there, and keep his trap shut later.

If there is no financing for Manchester to pull this off, it won't get built. Can't we all hope? It may just fall through the cracks and be forgotten. Then the next round might be something to be proud of, well-designed, and viable for the rest of this century and beyond. Nah! Nevahappen.

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