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Companies & People: New entrant into HRE space has a distinct niche

CA Ventures, which started out in student housing, is looking to add-value to HRE

By John B. Mugford

CA Ventures is best known for projects like the 120-unit UnCommon apartment development in Eugene, Ore., on the edge of the University of Oregon campus. But now it hopes to leverage its student housing contacts, as well as senior living and multifamily relationships, to source MOB and life sciences investment opportunities eventually totaling $500 million annually. (Photo courtesy of CA Ventures)

Investing in medical office buildings (MOBs) has become a heavily trafficked and crowded landscape, with buyers of various types and sizes, including large institutions, continually scouring the market for the product type.

Despite the strong demand for MOBs, especially high-quality assets with stabilized tenancies, a new entrant into the space believes its strong history and reputation in other areas of commercial real estate (CRE) development and investing, as well as its unique approach and niche in the healthcare arena, will allow the firm to succeed.

The company is Chicago-based CA Ventures, a company founded in 2004 by Thomas “Tom” Scott as a developer, owner and, eventually, a buyer of student housing apartments generally located near what the firm calls “large, top-tier” universities. After Mr. Scott started with one project near the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the firm is now a global, vertically integrated real estate investment management company with more than $13 billion of assets in North America, South America and Europe.

In recent weeks, CA Ventures, which over the years has also established itself in the senior living, multifamily residential, office and industrial sectors, announced that it has officially launched a new MOB and life sciences division.

In order to help start and lead the effort, CA Ventures brought on Russell Brenner as president of its Medical Office and Life Sciences Division. With more 24 years of CRE investment, finance and operational experience, Mr. Brenner was, for nearly eight years, a partner with Chicago-based Stage Equity Partners, which focused on investing in healthcare real estate (HRE) facilities, as well as the founder and principal of Center Capital LLC, a privately held CRE investment company.

CA Ventures has big aspirations for its MOB and life sciences division, as it plans, once the vertical is well-established, to invest about $500 million annually. It will find opportunities, the company notes, through its many clients and relationships involved in the student housing space, where it will team with university-based academic health systems, as well as the senior living sector. Its senior housing investment, operations and development division is called Anthology Senior Living.

“We’ve been evaluating an entry into the medical office and life sciences space for some time, not only because of strong market demand for healthcare real estate, but also because we’re uniquely positioned to leverage synergies with our existing senior housing and student housing verticals, the latter of which has investments near leading academic and research institutions across the country,” said Tom Scott, CEO of CA Ventures, in a news release, adding that Mr. Brenner has a “firm grasp of how changing demographics and emerging technologies are informing real estate decisions, and how CA’s global platform and longstanding relationships can be used to gain market share and achieve attractive, risked-adjusted returns.”

Shortly after the announcement, Healthcare Real Estate Insights reached out to Mr. Brenner to ask him a few questions about his new role and CA Ventures’ foray into medical office and life science.

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