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Capital Automotive drives away with $98 million in dealerships In deals that span seven states, McLean, Va-based Capital Automotive REIT has snapped up 23 automobile dealerships representing 14 brands. The transactions, worth $98 million, include $62 million in cash and $36 million in UPREIT units. Properties purchased include Ford, Chevrolet, Saturn, Buick and Honda dealerships in Indiana, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Maryland, Idaho and Arizona. The dealerships will be leased to affiliates of the present operators for an average of 15 years.

LaSalle Hotel Properties' initial public offering is $18 per share Chicago-based LaSalle Hotel Properties has made its IPO of 14.2 million shares at $18 per share. The REIT, formed by LaSalle Partners Inc. to own its hotel properties, will be managed by LaSalle Hotel Advisors Inc. Proceeds of the offering, approximately $255.6 million, will help acquire 10 mostly upscale and luxury full-service hotel properties and repay debts associated with those properties.

Colony Capital affiliate ropes Paloma Ranch near Phoenix The largest privately owned and operated farm in Arizona was acquired for an undisclosed sum by Paloma Ranch Investments LLC, an entity of Colony Capital Inc. Colony collaborated with Caprock Inc., an agricultural investment fund, and Southwest Agribusiness Services Inc., which will manage the property. A group of private Swiss investors sold the 67,650-acre ranch, which has its own cotton gin, airstrip and housing for 200 employees. An extensive irrigation and canal system distributes surface and ground water protected by water rights.

PNC Bank completes acquisition of Midland Loan Services In what is reportedly the largest acquisition of a commercial mortgage loan servicer, Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank Corp. has completed the acquisition of Kansas City-based Midland Loan Services, L.P. Midland will continue to operate as a subsidiary of PNC Bank under its new name, Midland Loan Services Inc.

In related news, another subsidiary of PNC Bank, BlackRock Financial Management Inc., will oversee day-to-day operations of Anthracite Capital Inc., which has made an initial public offering of 20 million shares of common stock at $15 per share. The commercial/hybrid mortgage REIT's IPO was underwritten by Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co., of which PNC Bank owns a 4.9% interest.

Fremont Associates wins top honors at 1998 competition Torrance, Calif.-based Fremont Associates won two top awards in the Commercial Builder of the Year category at the 1998 Real Estate Awards competition in March. Fremont Associates won Largest Industrial Project in 1997 and Most Active Developer in 1997 for developments such as the La Mirada Distribution Center, Lakeland Road Development and Standard Avenue Distribution Center. The awards show was sponsored by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Golf Trust of America sinks eagle in Santa Barbara course purchase In a $36.5 million transaction, Golf Trust of America Inc., a Charleston, S.C.-based REIT, has purchased Sandpiper Golf Course, an upscale 18-hole daily-fee facility near Santa Barbara, Calif. The price includes the property, long-term management rights and additional land.

The oceanfront golf course, one of only four on the California coast, will be leased by a joint venture comprising an affiliate of Environmental Golf and an affiliate of the owner of adjacent Santa Barbara Club Resort and Spa, a five-star hotel and resort currently under construction. Environmental Golf and its subsidiaries build, maintain and manage golf courses.

Sandpiper Golf Course and Santa Barbara Club Resort and Spa will form a destination resort when the hotel is completed. Situated atop a cliff on the Pacific Ocean, the resort is expected to rival Pebble Beach Golf Links to the north.

Weeks Corp. declares first quarter dividend Atlanta-based Weeks Corp. announced a dividend of $0.465 per common share and $0.50 per share of Series A Cumulative Redeemable preferred stocks for the first quarter of 1998. The REIT acquires and develops industrial and office properties in the Southeastern United States.

Good times in the commercial real estate sector do not negate the need for pro-growth federal policies, according to the National Realty Committee's America's Real Estate: 1998 National Policy Outlook. The Washington, D.C.-based commercial real estate policy advocate has issued its annual agenda, which includes recommendations to Congress and the Clinton administration on tax, credit, capital, environmental and technological concerns. The group wants to ensure that federal policy reflects the significance of REITs.

Copies of the report are free. Call the National Realty Committee at (202) 639-8400.

* Crown American Realty Trust, a Johnstown, Pa.-based REIT, led the enclosed mall peer group in 1997 shareholder returns. Operating results rose 8.6%.

* New York-based SL Green Realty Corp. reported pro forma FFO totaling $25.2 million, or $1.71 per share (up from $1.33 in 1996) on revenues of $59.4 million.

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