Also, social networking used as tool to help spur real estate partnershipsAfter a two-year hiatus from the commercial mortgage-backed securities market, Bridger Commercial Funding headquartered in Mill Valley has gotten back in.

“Recent activity in the CMBS market is signaling that the credit logjam plaguing commercial real estate lending for the past two years is starting to break,” said Peter Grabell, executive vice president of Bridger.

The company works with 2,200 banks throughout the country. Loans made under Bridger’s new program will be underwritten to eligibility standards for securitization under the Federal Reserve’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF.

It is open to applications for new loans from $2 million to $20 million.

“There are two Wall Street investment banks that are quoting loans in the $20 million and up range,” Mr. Grabell said. “What we are doing complements what those firms are doing.”

Mark Carrington, investment and leasing specialist with Orion Partners, a commercial real estate services company, said Bridger moving into the CMBS market is a very interesting move.

“They must be seeing something happening that the market doesn’t see yet,” he said. “All we have seen in the last year or so are mortgage lenders getting out of the market.”

Although the Bridger program is designed to allow investors purchasing new AAA-rated CMBS to access TALF financing, the program will offer commercial real estate borrowers the flexibility to access a range of alternative financing structures.

To date, individual borrowers have been locked out of TALF-supported financings because of the pooling requirement for newly originated loans. The new Bridger program addresses this obstacle by assembling a diversified portfolio of loans from many different borrowers that will be eligible for non-recourse securitization funding offered under TALF.

“This is really the first liquidity that has come back into the market for commercial borrowers. If it is something for multifamily, we have not had reliable financing. ... They are starting to get options back again,” said Mr. Grabell.

“I think that right now, treading cautiously is what is going on,” he continued. “People are looking for straightforward transactions. You are not going to see lenders taking on a lot of credit risk.”


The signing of a Community Benefits Agreement between the developer of Sonoma Mountain Village and the Accountable Development Coalition has spurred heated discussions in the development community as to what the long-term repercussions will be.

In October a document was signed regarding labor, affordable housing and environmental aspects of Sonoma Mountain Village, the mixed-use project on the 200-acre former Agilent Technologies site.

Both people for and against these agreements have called this a “template” for future development.

Groups against CBAs are afraid all developers will have to make these agreements with interest groups, further clogging the process of getting a development approved.

Groups in favor feel that it will hold developers accountable to the community.

Kirstie Moore, development manager of Codding Enterprises, the developer on Sonoma Mountain Village said, “I don’t think it is really appropriate to think of this as a blueprint that everyone should follow,” she said.

“I think other developers could look at what we are doing out here and take parts of that and bring it to their projects.”

She said there is no one-size-fits-all way of looking at development.

Rick Deringer, developer of West End Village and DeTurk Winery Village in the West End district of Santa Rosa, thinks that CBAs violate the California Environmental Quality Act because they slow the development progress and have the potential to stop development.

“I was told [by the Accountable Development Coalition] that the CBA would only be used for large projects that receive governmental funding but would not be used for small and medium-sized projects,” Mr. Deringer said.

He said, however, that the Accountable Development Coalition has not formally made a commitment to those criteria, which was a concern to him.

Michael Allen, a labor attorney, Santa Rosa planning commissioner and the chair of the coalition, said he hopes the Sonoma Mountain Village CBA does become a template for developers.

“We believe over time there will be a series of ’smart-growth’ developments along the entire rail line, and we want Sonoma Mountain Village to be a model,” he said.

The one other project currently in talks with the ADC is the mixed-use Railroad Square project that will be next to the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit station.

Part of the agreement signed for the buy option of the land by the developer of the project, John Stewart, was to enter into a CBA with the ADC.

Mr. Deringer said, “I agree that they want to get their teeth into these large transit projects, but once their appetite is full of these the concern I have is will they next turn to the downtown small and medium-sized projects that do not seek governmental funding. If so, the downtown we envision will never happen.”


A new LinkedIn group, Real Estate Joint Venture Matching Group, has popped up online to help facilitate joint ventures to spur activity in the real estate market.

“The capital market is in a unique position,” said Jeff Lerman, founder of the group and partner with Lerman Law Partners.

“I started this group to provide a free forum for owners and buyers. In a joint venture, one partner brings in money, the other the property, and terms are agreed upon that both parties are comfortable with.”

The ultimate goal of this group, said Mr. Lerman, is to have an in-person event scheduled for education about how to establish a joint venture and to host deal-making sessions.

He wants to make it to 1,000 members before scheduling such an event. Mr. Lerman created the group on Dec. 4, and as of press time there were already 219 members

“The quality of the group will be driven by the number of members. The more members, the more deals," he said.

“I think this will be a great way for people to find deals off market."


WellcomeMat.com is a community of real estate professionals, brokerages and filmmakers focused on using full-motion video to better market themselves and properties.

It has more than 12,000 real estate professionals managing their video content on the site and more than 3,000 video production companies fulfilling projects through the platform.

On WellcomeMat, members can upload new and existing video content; fulfill projects with filmmaker and videographers; apply unmatched, branded video experiences to Web sites and blogs; and distribute and embed videos to sites like YouTube, Multiple Listing Service, Craigslist, Twitter, Facebook and StreetEasy.

The company also recently launched an iPhone app. For more information, visit www.wellcomemat.com.


Submit items for this column to Jenna V. Loceff at jlocecff@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4259 or fax 707-521-5292.