Prime Group closes $170 M loan on 77 West Wacker in Chicago Prime Group Realty Trust, Chicago, closed on a $170 million nonrecourse loan secured by a first mortgage on 77 West Wacker Drive in Chicago. An affiliate of Lehman Bros. provided the financing with the intention of including the loan in a future commercial mortgage-backed securitization. The Class-A office tower counts R.R. Donnelley & Co.; Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue; and Everen Securities among its major tenants.

New AEW fund makes initial investment in Weeks Corp. AEW Targeted Securities Fund L.P., a newly formed investment partnership of Boston-based AEW Capital Management L.P., closed on its initial investment, a $35 million direct placement of preferred equity and warrants to purchase common stock in Weeks Corp., Atlanta. The Fund, which is managed on behalf of institutional investors and will make private placement investments in publicly held REITs and other real estate companies, expects to close more than $200 million of investments over the next three to six months.

Boston Financial to acquire Schroder, expand into commercial Boston Financial, a Boston-based diversified investment management and financial services company, entered into a definitive agreement to acquire institutional adviser Schroder Real Estate Associates L.P., New York, from its senior executives and Schroder U.S. Holdings Inc.

The transaction, which was expected to close in the fourth quarter of 1998, includes Schroder's wholly owned property management subsidiary, Schroder Center Management Inc., and an affiliate that manages several million sq. ft. of office properties. This will increase Boston Financial's total real estate assets under management from $4.5 billion to $5.4 billion and will broaden its primary business to encompass office, retail and industrial in addition to multifamily.

PREI, Extra Space Storage to invest in self-storage Attracted to the stability of self-storage returns and the opportunities presented by consolidation in a fragmented industry, Prudential Real Estate Investors (PREI), Newark, N.J., and Extra Space Storage, Salt Lake City, launched a program to jointly invest in existing and to-be-built self-storage facilities in the western and northeastern United States. The venture's initial investments include eight existing and seven development facilities in Massachusetts, California and Utah. The partners anticipate investing an additional $120 million to $140 million in self-storage facilities annually, and Extra Space Management will provide management services.

CB Richard Ellis creates auto industry practice in Motor City Expecting a spike of activity in real estate transactions among automotive manufacturers and suppliers, the Detroit office of CB Richard Ellis formed an Automotive Industry Practice to assist major automotive corporations with their real estate-related activities. Scott Elliott, former managing director of the office, will manage the practice.

Savannah the next up-and-comer? Apparently Foram thinks so If Savannah, Ga., isn't on your radar screen for investments, perhaps it should be. At least, Miami-based Foram thinks so. On behalf of its client, Jabot Investments, Foram is now one of the largest private land owners in the Savannah area and plans to redeploy more portfolio assets to the area. In fact, Foram just acquired a 1,710-acre land parcel south of Savannah on the Laurel View River and Interstate-95. With this latest acquisition, it holds three land parcels that front nearly 9.5 miles of I-95 and I-16.

According to Foram President Loretta Cockrum, the Myrtle Beach to Jacksonville corridor is one of the fastest growing regions in the country. "The new convention center on Hutchinson Island and the planned Disney travel center in Hardeeville, S.C., are sending strong signals about the future," she says.

Foram already is involved in a PUD on property it owns at the intersection of I-95 and I-16.

Cornerstone closes $550 million acquisition line of credit Crediting its focus on Class-A properties and the high quality of its asset base for its ability to access capital in difficult market conditions, New York-based Cornerstone Properties Inc. closed a new $550 million acquisition line of credit. A syndicate of banks lead by BT Alex. Brown, together with co-leads Chase Securities and NationsBanc Montgomery Securities, provided the line of credit, which will initially be used to fund part of Cornerstone's $1.8 billion merger with William Wilson & Associates.

New Harbor Group completes first major joint transaction Norfolk, Va.-based Harbor Group International (HGI), which resulted from the merger of Harbor Group Capital Corp., a privately held real estate investment firm with holdings in the Southeast, and BO-DA Investments of Tel-Aviv, Israel, has completed its first major joint acquisition. The $31.23 million acquisition, a portfolio from Woodmen of the World Insurance Co., Omaha, Neb., brings to $350 million the value of retail, multifamily and office properties HGI now controls in 11 American states and seven cities in England.

St. Louis revisited: 1 million sq. ft. planned for Clayton submarket In October, we told you what a hot market St. Louis is. (See NREI's St. Louis City Review, October 1998, page 136.) One submarket that bears an even closer look, though, is Clayton, which,with a 3.5% office vacancy rate, has the highest occupancy of any St. Louis submarket. As a result, Clayton's CBD can expect almost 1 million sq. ft. of new construction in the next three years.

Trammell Crow Co. plans to begin work on Shaw Park Plaza, a $51 million 270,000 sq. ft. Class-A office building in March 1999, with completion scheduled for August 2000.

The World Trade Center St. Louis, a planned-unit development by WTC Development Co., an affiliate of Nooney Inc., is scheduled for tenancy in the spring of 2001 as a 274,000 sq. ft. office building.

Finally, Clayton-based Conrad Properties began work in September on a $35 million, 280,000 sq. ft. mixed-use project that is planned to include approximately 128 luxury apartments, 98 extended-stay hotel suites and 700 sq. ft. of retail space when construction is completed early in 2000.

Now that's signage NEW YORK - Visitors to Times Square will never have a hard time finding cash again, thanks to Fleet Bank's new ATM "supersign" located on the corner of Broadway and 46th Street on the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Heralding Fleet Bank's new presence in the region, Spectacolor Communications, New York, created the display, which features a moving 5-foot-long $20 bill and 5-foot-tall ATM card.