Miami skyscraper, failed thrift's HQ, is sold for a song


WASHINGTON -- The Resolution Trust Corp. has found a buyer for CenTrust Tower, the Miami skyscraper of the failed CenTrust Savings Bank, at a bargain-basement price of $45 million, or about 30 percent of the construction cost.

The low price and favorable financing terms offered to Winthrop Financial Corp., a Boston-based real estate company, indicate how the RTC is trying to move assets out of its inventory.

The sale program accelerated on Wednesday when the agency put 21 thrifts on the block, including such former high-fliers as Sunbelt Federal Savings in Dallas; Columbia Savings and Loan in Beverly Hills, Calif.; and Far West Savings and Loan in Newport Beach, Calif.

Analysts say the RTC should expect low bids from prospective buyers because the banking system is awash in liquidity.

Paperwork was in preparation Thursday for the sale of CenTrust Tower to Winthrop Financial. Lamar Kelly, the RTC's real estate director, said the agency will finance about 60 percent of the $45 million purchase price, or $27 million.

Of the remaining 40 percent, or $18 million, Winthrop was expected to make a down payment of only about $3 million. Winthrop will put the rest in an escrow account for repairs.

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