Orange County Business Journal

Real Estate Boutique: Shift From Workouts to Buyouts

Bridgeport Sees Financing Back, Clients Out Buying Mark Mueller Sunday, May 29, 2011

Principals with Tustin-based Bridgeport Investments are expecting a busy rest of the year in commercial real estate deals.

“I think we’re going to see that the number of transactions is going to be noticeably greater” than what’s been seen in the past year or so, said Randy Bramel, founder of Bridgeport, a boutique real estate investment banking and advisory company that started in 1990. “I’m optimistic.”

The company’s helped finance real estate deals worth about $1.5 billion since 2003. It has spent a good part of the past few years helping its clients rework loans made prior to the recession.

Since last summer, the company’s clients have turned to buying, according to Bramel.

That’s due to an improving economy, as well as better financing for real estate investors, he said.

“Equity capital is fully back, and a lot more debt is available now than it was eight or nine months ago,” said Bramel, who is one of three Bridgeport principals.

The others are Chris Bramel, his son, and Paul Conzelman.

The company counts a core of about 20 or so clients, a combination of commercial, residential and land developers and investors, according to Bramel.

They’re “all entrepreneurial” and are raising money while looking for deals to take on, he said.

Companies Bridgeport works with include Irvine’s Steadfast Cos., a real estate investor that last year started a nontraded real estate investment trust.

Bridgeport recently helped arrange $10.5 million in debt for Steadfast to buy a discounted loan tied to a 85,000-square-foot office project in Simi Valley.

It also works with Irvine’s CapRock Partners LLC, an industrial investor that makes deals of $3 million to $15 million.

Bridgeport recently arranged a $12.5 million investment that helped CapRock buy a portfolio of distressed local industrial buildings in Southern California.

It’s also in the process of putting together its first construction loan since 2008, to help a developer finance a self-storage project, according to Bramel.

“We’re definitely in an upward trend,” in terms of deals, Bramel said.

Rodeo Restaurant

Bull riding is coming to Costa Mesa’s Triangle Square mall.

The shopping center recently signed Saddle Ranch Chop House as its latest restaurant.

In addition to steaks, Saddle Ranch bills itself as providing a “high energy, rock-western experience,” including a mechanical bull.

Saddle Ranch has two other locations in California. Its flagship restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles serves as the basis of a reality TV show on VH1.

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