Catalyst Capital is pleased to announce the acquisition of the company owning the office building Front de Parc in Clichy adjoining Paris comprising 32,900 sm, on behalf of its fund, Catalyst European Property Fund I. This is the first purchase in France by the fund since it was closed in 2008. The sale was arranged by Jones Lang LaSalle. The purchase had been contingent upon the conclusion of a ‘conciliation’ legal process approved by the commercial courts of Paris that required the cooperative efforts of the previous owners, the special servicer managing the CMBS debt, and Catalyst Capital.
This purchase follows the £91.5m paid by CEPF I in September 2010 for the Stratford Centre, a shopping and office complex of 425,00 sf, in London, the £18.5m purchase of a 62,250 sf pair of office buildings on New Bridge St. London in December 2010, and the purchase of the €24.8m Weisseritz Centre in Frietal near Dresden of 20,250 sm. in March of this year. These are the first purchases made by Catalyst’s European fund since January 2008.
New debt for the Clichy purchase was provided by Deutsche Pfandebriefbank AG, the same institution that funded Catalyst’s purchase of the Stratford Centre in London.
“The time is right to start purchasing again, after having held our discipline for the last several years,” commented Fabrice de Clermont-Tonnerre, Catalyst partner and head of the Paris office, “though admittedly we have studied a very large number of files in the intervening time. This property, which is almost 40% vacant and requires substantial refurbishment, exactly fits our core strategy of enhancing and improving properties.” Mr. Clermont-Tonnerre noted that all of the other recent purchases in Europe also involve significant renovation, expansion, re-letting and/or redevelopment.
The Front de Parc property includes the 1908 warehouse building of the Printemps department store, which is listed as an historic building with les Bâtiments de France. The exterior has a visible, ornate iron structure in an Art Nouveau style characteristic of the time, and is known locally as the “Eiffel building”, though in fact it was designed by two contemporaries of Eiffel, Ernest Papinot and René Simonet. It was later expanded with an addition in 1926, subsequently converted to offices and then expanded again in the mid 1990’s with a further office addition.