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Cain sees room to grow lending platform as development cycle booms

The firm entered the Chicago market this year, originating a $117m loan for LendLease and Super Aware.

Cain International is gearing up to expand its US development lending platform ahead of an expected increase in borrowers looking at opportunities to break ground in its target markets.

Cain has originated more than $1 billion of loans in the US since launching its platform last year, focusing on large, complex transactions that require a lender to be an active partner, Matthew Rosenfeld, head of US debt at Cain, told Real Estate Capital USA. The firm does not view its loans as passive investments.

“What we focus on and what we think we’re quite good at is large, complex and flexible financings. We’re not a commodity lender,” Rosenfeld said. “We look for situations and instances that require some real thought and hard work. And there has been plenty of those over the last few months.”

Cain has been an active originator in major metros like New York, Miami and Los Angeles and this month closed its first loan in Chicago, where it funded a $117 million multifamily development financing on behalf of LendLease and Super Aware.

The loan will be used to construct The Reed at Southbank in downtown Chicago, a 440-unit rental and condo property at 234 West Polk Street. As a lender, Cain liked the project because of its amenities and location in a core, urban market. A strong historical relationship with Lendlease sealed the deal, Rosenfeld said.

“Lendlease is as good as anyone at taking on complex multi-mixed-use projects,” Rosenfeld said. “This project really is an urban regeneration project at its core, and they have as good a track record at doing that as anyone.”

There is abundant liquidity in the private markets that will be launching projects and seeking an active lender like Cain. “There’s many hundreds of billions of dry powder on the sideline in the private markets looking to be put to work,” Rosenfeld said.

But while opportunities should be plentiful, Rosenfeld said Cain is not interested in the run-of-the-mill.

“We try to really focus on what we can offer outside of the prevailing market conditions,” he said “There’s always going to be a requirement for someone to find a lender who’s going to be able to take in their view on a business plan or on a structure that is not down the fairway [and is] going to require some hard work.”