Local lender Renovo plans to scale up, with help from Sterling Bay, CA Ventures and Sean Conlon

Conlon also will help the Chicago-based firm chart an expansion strategy

Jun.June 27, 2019 01:00 PM
The Renovo office and CEO Kevin Werner

The Renovo office and CEO Kevin Werner

A local small-scale real estate lender has received a cash infusion from some big names in Chicago’s real estate industry.

Sterling Bay’s Andy Gloor

Sterling Bay’s Andy Gloor

Chicago-based Renovo Financial on Wednesday announced new investments in the company from Sean Conlon, Sterling Bay’s Andy Gloor, CA Ventures’ Tom Scott and five others.

Kevin Werner, Renovo’s co-founder and CEO, would not disclose the total amount raised but said it bought the investors a 7 percent stake in his company.

Renovo finances small-scale residential development, mostly in the Chicago market, providing capital for projects including rehabs, new three-flats and luxury single-family homes.
The new funding will allow Renovo to go after some bigger fish, as well as expand to new markets, including New York and Boston, Werner said.

“It’s fabulous validation, that what we do is worthy of an investment from these executives,” Werner said. “These people are really great role models for emerging entrepreneurs.”

The firm has deployed $1 billion in capital for 2,100 real estate projects since its founding in 2011, with help from financing partners PNC Bank and JPMorgan Chase. In 2015, the firm received a $50 million investment from Chicago-based Victory Park Capital.

Sean Conlon

Sean Conlon

The new influx of cash will be used to increase staffing and invest in technology that will provide better project-managing tools to small-scale developers, Werner said. The cash also could help with an acquisition of a similar firm on the East Coast, which will help the firm to expand, he said.

Conlon, the locally based real estate entrepreneur, also signed on as a growth advisor for Renovo, and will help chart its expansion to other markets, Werner said.

Conlon has founded real estate financing firms, including launching Conlon & Co. in 2000 and in 2016 founding Conlon Capital, which finances commercial development. Conlon sold his brokerage to Compass early last year.

Renovo was the financier behind some of the rehab projects featured on Conlon’s reality TV show “The Deed.” Werner said he and Conlon developed a good working relationship through that experience, which ultimately led Conlon to sign on as an investor and recruit others to invest as well.

In a statement, Conlon lauded Renovo for “deploying smart and savvy capital.”

CA Ventures’ Tom Scott

CA Ventures’ Tom Scott

Renovo’s success has been in servicing a portion of the market that is often overlooked by banks and institutional investors, Werner said.

The firm provides financing for projects under $5 million, though much of its lending comes in at under $1 million. Renovo supplied a $4.8 million construction loan for Compass broker and developer John Federici’s Lakeview condo building.

The majority of the projects Renovo finances are urban infill developments in Chicago neighborhoods. But the company hopes to be financing similar projects in major cities throughout the United State soon.

“We think our work is just getting started,” Werner said.

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