Almanac backs new Mack RE unit

The New York-based private equity real estate firm will be a seed investor in the new mortgage REIT.

Almanac Realty Investors invested $262 million in a new mortgage real estate investment trust, Claros Mortgage Trust (CMT). The commitment was made through the Almanac Realty Securities 7 fund, a $1.4 billion fund that closed in June.

CMT is the first mortgage and senior lending unit of Mack Real Estate Credit Strategies, the credit business of Mack Real Estate Group. The new REIT is expected to deploy $1.1 billion of senior loans by the end of the year. Media reports suggest Mack plans to write $4 billion to $6 billion of mortgages in 2016.

“Given the current pace of loan origination activity we’ve seen so far, we believe we were correct in predicting a high level of demand for senior mortgage loans on transitional properties,” said Peter Sotoloff, the chief investment officer of the business, in a statement. Sotoloff joined Mack a year ago from Blackstone, where he was a founding member of the Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies Advisor and head of originations for the unit.

“There is significant opportunity in the bridge loan market and MRECS is well positioned to execute the strategy with a best-in-class management team,” said Almanac partner Andrew Silberstein in a statement.

CMT will lend to all types of commercial properties, including land, with three to five-year, floating-rate mortgages. Last month, the REIT originated a $71 million loan last month on a 116-room hotel in Manhattan. The borrower, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based Hersha Hospitality, turned the property into a luxury hotel and changed its brand. Hersha received a three-year floating-rate mortgage with a loan-to-value ratio of 54 percent.

New York-based advisory firm Hentschel & Company arranged the commitment.