Forget the Cell Site Lease Buyout – Buy The Whole Property

In an interesting twist on a wireless site lease buyout, Global Signal (a unit of Crown Castle) has not only bought out an existing cell site lease in Fort Myers, Florida…it bought the entire underlying property and the existing commercial office building as well.

Crown Castle paid $1,000,000 for a property recently assessed to be worth about $620,000. The property was originally listed for $1,200,000.

Here’s what the seller’s listing agent, Kevin Fitzgerald of NAI Southwest Florida said about the deal, “I think [Crown Castle] liked the property location, and they have an interest in the cell tower in the back of it,” he says. “To the best of our knowledge they are going to try to lease [the building] out.”

Was Crown Castle crazy?

Yeah.  Crazy like a fox.

The site is located to serve the Midpoint Bridge  as well as Page Field, the local airport.  It is certainly in a great location for commuter and fixed high capacity/volume wireless traffic. There appear to be six levels of antennas on this legacy monopole, which is no doubt subject to the relaxed  Sec. 6409(a) collocation rules.

The current cell site income was reported as being about $5,500 per month.  Using the usual valuation benchmarks, this would have meant that a likely offer on just the lease and easement would be in the range of $792,000 to $990,000, with the higher number being more likely closer the a deal point.  The lease buyout value might even be higher if the underlying lease is within 10 years of its natural expiration.

When you look at the rent that Crown Castle was paying, nearly $5,500 per month (presumably tied to the collocations at the site, and also likely to be effectively increasing 2 to 5% per year), as well as the residual value Crown Castle can recognize by flipping the property minus the cell site ($620,000ish minus some value for the internal portion of the building that will continue to be used by one or more of the collocators) plus the short or long term tax loss from the purchase price, the deal seems to make a lot of sense from Crown Castle’s standpoint.  A lot of sense, actually.  It’s like Crown Castle got the property thrown in nearly for free on top of the wireless lease buyout.

Yes, a sweet deal for Crown Castle.

Likely not so sweet a deal for Peninsula Associates LLP, the seller, which probably also paid a 7% real estate sales commission to NAI while apparently leaving a whole boatload of money on the table on the way out the door.

Reported information regarding the sale (believed to be accurate but not guaranteed):

BUYER: Global Signal Acquisitions IV LLC, Canonsburg, Pa.

SELLER: Peninsula Associates LLP

PROPERTY: 1421 Colonial Blvd Fort Myers, FL 33907 (building constructed in 1965); Alternate address: 1421 Cr 884 W, Fort Myers, FL 33907

LISTED: August, 2012; Contract in October, 2012.

CURRENT SALES PRICE: $1 million (7855 square feet/$127 per square foot; Lot size: 0.83 acres; about 850 square feet inside building used by cell tower tenants.

PREVIOUS SALES RICE: $420,000, December 1988

ASSESSED MARKET VALUE (2011): $620,302  ($404,302 for building; 216,000 for land)


View Larger Map  (and zoom+ satellite view to see the entire tower)



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