Client Profile: Musa Tadros, CEO, Crown PropertiesNovember 2, 2011
Portfolio size: 1,000,000+ SF
Portfolio composition: 50% Retail, 50% Office
Aries Capital Transaction: $45.3 million office building refinance (Clark Adams building, 105 W. Adams, Chicago, IL)
Musa Tadros embodies the American Dream. A Jordanian immigrant, Tadros is the youngest of ten children, and the last to be brought by his father to the United States. He was just 10 years old when he arrived in 1970, but wasted no time getting into the family business. “I started working the third day I came to this country,” he said.
His father had moved to the United States in 1964, settling in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood and taking up a position as a janitor at a downtown bank. Over the next several years, Musa’s father brought his family over from Jordan, and in time they were able to open a convenience store. It was in this store that Musa learned a thing or two about perseverance, hard work, and retail profit margins.
“We started out in the grocery store business, but competition in grocery stores was fierce. Independent stores were dying, so we decided to get into the real estate business and eventually learned a little bit about construction, real estate, and leasing,” he said. “Now, that’s the core of my business.”
Today, that business, Crown Properties, includes a portfolio of over one million square feet of retail and office space in the Chicago area. In addition to the Clark Adams office building at 105 W. Adams St. in Chicago’s Loop business district (pictured above), Crown has several major retail developments in Chicago’s South side, including the first Target store in an African-American community (located in the Chatham Village Square development, pictured below), a Nike outlet, and Aldi and Save A Lot grocery stores in areas which had been food deserts prior to the stores’ arrival.
The secret to his success? Perseverance. “That’s been the secret from day one, and it hasn’t changed,” he said. In addition to hard work and perseverance, Tadros could add “preparation.” He is a licensed general contractor and real estate broker, which enables him to manage nearly all areas of his business, from leasing to tenant build-outs, in-house. He often handles his own financing as well, but turned to Aries Capital for the complex structuring required to refinance the Clark Adams building.
Crown began interviewing lenders and brokers more than two years before the CMBS loan on the building was due to balloon, and met with over twenty firms before choosing Aries Capital Senior Vice President Jeff Bucaro to structure the loan.
“Musa is the best kind of client—he was knowledgeable and really well-prepared when he began the refinance process,” Bucaro said. “Musa turned the building around when he bought it. The previous owner was nearing foreclosure, with tenancy at 65% and falling. In the worst market, Musa increased the occupancy while maintaining rental rates, strengthening relationships with existing tenants, and attracting outstanding new tenants, including the University of Chicago, Club Quarters, and Northwestern University. It’s a real testament to his qualities as a property owner.”
“We liked Aries Capital because they seemed like very honest, hardworking guys, and they weren’t just thinking of their fee. And they didn’t give up, which was key. I’m a methodical, patient guy, and it took awhile,” Tadros said, noting that Bucaro presented him with multiple options before Crown settled on financing with Wells Fargo. “They did bring other lenders to the table that could have performed and could have closed, but it wouldn’t have been the best deal for me, and they understood that,” he said, adding, “I really can’t say enough good things.”
“We’re in the business to help entrepreneurial people like Musa,” said Neil Freeman, Aries Capital’s Chairman and CEO. “When they’re successful, we’re successful.”