Peregrine Financial Group Inc.’s $20 million corporate headquarters and its 22-acre Cedar Falls, Iowa, site can be put up for sale, a federal judge said.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer in Chicago today granted, with no one opposed, a court-appointed receiver’s request to retain Woodland Hills, California-based GA Keen Realty Advisors LLC to help market the building.
“The receiver believes the sale of the property may prove difficult,” Randall Lending, an attorney for receiver Michael Eidelman, said in a Feb. 20 court filing seeking permission to start that process. Lending cited the building’s size, its location and what he called its “unique nature.”
Peregrine Financial collapsed last year after the commodities firm’s founder, Russell Wasendorf Sr., revealed in the course of a failed suicide attempt that he’d been stealing from the business and its clients.
Accused of taking more than $200 million, he pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to 50 years in prison last month.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission sued Wasendorf and the firm in Chicago one day after the July suicide attempt and hours before the firm filed for bankruptcy.
Eidelman was then appointed by Pallmeyer to liquidate Wasendorf’s assets, which included a Chicago lake shore condominium that sold for $1 million in December, an Italian restaurant, a publishing company and a part of a construction business, for the repayment of creditors.
In 2008, Wasendorf Construction LLC built the two-story headquarters for the commodities firm. Peregrine’s now former office has an all-glass exterior, 48,250 square feet of space, floor coverings of natural stone, carpet, cork and bamboo, geothermal heating and cooling and holds a gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, in recognition of its leadership in energy and environmental design.
It’s also encumbered by a $6.3 million mortgage held by U.S. Bank NA, according to the receiver’s filing. The bank has the right to utilize that credit should it decide to bid on the property, according to the Feb. 20 court filing.
“I felt the employees would be proud of it,” Wasendorf, the firm’s founder and chief executive officer, said on the video celebrating the opening of the office in 2009.
While a sale price for the property hasn’t been established, the receiver proposed that GA Keen oversee an auction on or by May 31 and a court-approved closing by June 14.
“Due to the unique nature of the Property, the status of the Cedar Falls/Waterloo real estate market and the likely list of buyers for a building of this size and quality, sale of the property will likely require significant marketing efforts to obtain a successful bidder to purchase the property,” Lending said.
The case is U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Peregrine Financial Group, 12-cv-5383, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).