Focus, Banking & Finance, and Real Estate

Cohen Financial secures more commercial financing

Life insurers becoming a good source for smaller loan amounts.

September 6, 2013
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At the end of last year, Cathy Bronkema said lenders had a growing appetite to fund more commercial real estate projects in the region.

Bronkema, who heads the local office of Cohen Financial, made that comment after she revealed in December that her firm had secured $15 million in loans for two Grand Rapids developments.

She was instrumental then in securing $5 million worth of financing for the owner of the Ramada Plaza Hotel on 28thStreet SE in Kentwood and a $10 million acquisition loan for Franklin Partners to assist with its purchase of 99 Monroe, a 13-story downtown office building.

At the same time, Bronkema also closed a $6.5 million refinancing deal with a life insurance company for a Home Depot in Midland.

“The commercial real estate market in Michigan continues to trend upwards, and lenders have a growing appetite to finance more properties in the region,” said Bronkema after announcing those loans just before Christmas.

It appears she was right.

Now, roughly six months later, Bronkema and Cohen Financial have secured more than $10 million in financing for four projects, two of which are in West Michigan.

One deal involved Bronkema arranging a $3.12 million acquisition loan from a local lender so a local investor could purchase the Highbrook Townhomes, a 62-unit residential complex in Hudsonville that is nearly fully leased. Neither the lender nor the investor was identified. She is also pursuing a loan from HUD for the complex.

A second deal had Bronkema obtaining a $1.95 million financing loan from StanCorp Mortgage Investors LLC for the owner of Centre Square, a neighborhood retail center in Portage.

Bronkema also closed another refinancing transaction for the National Notary Association, which borrowed $2.7 million from Protective Life Insurance Co. The association owns a 55,000-square-foot office and industrial building in Chatsworth, Calif.

The fourth deal involved Bronkema securing a $2.3 million loan for The Intech Group so the firm could refinance its 57,530-square-foot industrial building in Palatine, Ill. The lender was the Kansas City Life Insurance Co.

“Three of the four transactions were financed by life insurance companies,” said Bronkema. “Many life insurance companies are actively providing capital and are interested in underwriting single-tenant and owner-occupied properties, as was the case with two of these deals,” she added.

“Additionally, life insurance lenders continue to be competitive and provide attractive loan pricing and structure on smaller loans below $5 million.”

Bronkema is a native of Grand Rapids and a partner in Cohen Financial. She opened the firm’s local office at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW in 2011 after spending nine years working at Cohen’s headquarters in Chicago. The company has offices in 10 markets.

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