Abington Bank, which gave Creating Real Estate Innovations (CREI) $15.1 million in construction loans for its 11-story American Loft in Northern Liberties, bought the still-unfinished condominium building back yesterday at sheriff's sale for $8.6 million.
There were two other bidders for the property - a single developer and a group of five men. They declined to identify themselves, and Sheriff John Green's office had no information on whom they might be. Sheriff's sales do not require prior registration.
The 63,000-square-foot midrise and the land it sits on at North American and Brown Streets was the last of several hundred properties to be handled at the four-hour sheriff's sale in the ballroom of the AME Church's First District Plaza in University City.
American Loft was to have been CREI's signature building, one of several in Northern Liberties, Old City, and Center City that the company planned to develop. Just two of those projects were completed in four years - Nouveau, at 122 New St., and 101 Walnut, at Front and Walnut Streets.
Most of the 10 units at 101 Walnut went to pay subcontractors CREI owed money.
Only six of Nouveau's 16 units were sold to either people who intended to live there or investors intending to rent the units.
At the sheriff's sale, Abington Bank had been looking for $15,440,187 for American Loft, including its own costs and at least one federal lien filed against the property by the Internal Revenue Service.
Part of the bank's $23.5 million in nonperforming loans at the end of 2008, American Loft was reclassified after a Feb. 27 foreclosure as "real-estate owned" with a carrying value of $11.5 million, the net after the bank's charge-off of its $3.7 million allowance for loan losses.
Another Center City property financed by Abington Bank, 500-506 Walnut St. - once the site of a proposed 23-story high-rise condominium that was tied up in lawsuits - went to sheriff's sale May 5. The loan amount was in excess of $5 million.
A talked-about effort by CREI subcontractors and materials suppliers to seek a court order blocking the sheriff's sale for American Loft did not materialize.
Though the published price was in excess of $15 million, bidding opened at $50,000. Abington Bank's lawyer, Ashley A. Federer, quickly pushed it to $1.7 million.
The other two parties followed in turn, but Federer's last bid, $8.6 million, gave the bank the property.
The sale price was almost $7 million below what CREI's principals, Gagandeep Lakhmna, Harbir Singh, and Amardeep "Billy" Grewal, owed the bank.
There was no information regarding Abington Bank's plans for the property. Observers of the local real estate scene said the $15.1 million the bank sought was more than the market would bear.
If the property were turned to rental until the for-sale market recovered, a price of $5 million would be more realistic, those observers said.