Cohen & Steers Launches New Private Investment Platform

The global investment manager is expanding into the private arena after decades of focus on listed real estate.
Joseph Harvey, President & Acting CEO, Cohen & Steers Inc
Joseph Harvey, President & Acting CEO, Cohen & Steers Inc. Image courtesy of Cohen & Steers Inc.

Cohen & Steers Inc. has formed a new group, Cohen & Steers Private Real Estate Group, to offer its clients an entrée into the world of private real estate investment. The purpose-built team expands the firm’s reach into a part of the U.S. commercial real estate market that is valued at more than $15 trillion.

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Cohen & Steers sees the creation of the group as a natural offshoot of the expertise it has cultivated in listed real estate over its 35-year history, and that the new platform will present investors with the freedom to capitalize on complementary options at varying stages of a cycle.

“We have thought about developing a private capability over the past few years. We have this belief that if you have an organization that is really great at listed and private real estate, that it would give investors the opportunity to simply go where the best opportunities are—that would be a differentiated approach,” Joseph Harvey, president & acting CEO, told Commercial Property Executive. “Now is a particularly attractive period for private real estate investors as the market rebounds from a cyclical bottom and there is higher potential to identify mispriced assets.”

The Private Real Estate Group will make direct investments in properties, with an eye on the reversal in key real estate trends, including the move in focus from high-density urban apartment communities to medium density communities and the shift from office gateway cities to office areas in the Sun Belt region. The newly formed group will also direct resources to fund managers, as well as pre-IPO securities and private investments in public equity, or PIPEs.

Right people, right time

Cohen & Steers has tapped James Corl, most recently head of Real Estate at Siguler Guff & Co. LP, to return to the fold and serve and lead the Private Real Estate Group as executive vice president. Corl had been with Cohen & Steers for 11 years, including four years as CIO of listed real estate, before his 11-year tenure at Siguler Guff, where he invested $3 billion of capital.

“An important trend we have seen is that real estate investors have become much more comfortable with listed real estate—they are more agile in going back and forth between the markets and allocating to best opportunity. That gives us confidence that the market is ready for this type of capability,” Harvey noted. “Additionally, Jim Corl is a strategic and talented investor who has excelled at both the listed and private real estate markets, which gave us confidence we could build a great team.”

Along with Corl, the Private Real Estate Group included Hamid Tabib, also previously of Siguler Guff, who serves as head of Real Estate Acquisitions, North America. Josh Silverman joins as principal, Acquisitions, from Northwood Investors, and Jon Rhoden, formerly of Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Real Estate group, is aboard as senior associate. The new platform has been well received so far. “This is the type of capability that clients have been asking us for, and so reception has been positive,” Harvey said.