Former Dodgers owner expands investment platform beyond real estate

Frank McCourt and a rendering of 360 Tenth Avenue (Credit: SHoP Architects)
Frank McCourt and a rendering of 360 Tenth Avenue (Credit: SHoP Architects)

From the New York website: Frank McCourt, the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is looking beyond real estate for returns on the money he got from selling the franchise.

McCourt and business partner Mark Walter, who formed McCourt Partners in 2007 to invest largely in U.S. real estate, said in a statement that they’re expanding their investment platform to include sectors such as private equity and finance. Their new investment platform has over $1 billion in permanent capital, they said.

Drew McCourt, president of McCourt Global, McCourt’s family office, will lead the expanded partnership until a CEO has been named.

Their decision to branch out comes as the group’s biggest project in New York, a planned $3 billion, 730,000-square-foot retail and residential tower at 360 Tenth Avenue on Manhattan’s Far West Side, remains in limbo.

McCourt Partners purchased the 10th Avenue site for $167 million, including development rights, in 2014, more than triple the price paid for the site in 2011 by the previous owners, a partnership between Sherwood Equities [TRDataCustom] and Long Wharf Real Estate Partners, though that deal did not include the rights. The deal was McCourt’s first major commercial transaction since the Dodgers sale — and his first-ever in New York.

But the project is yet to get off the ground. In September 2014, Hines came on as an equity and development partner on the project, but sources familiar with the firm said the project in no longer on Hines’ list of active projects. A spokesperson for Hines was not immediately available for comment. It wasn’t clear if McCourt is in the market for a new equity partner. A spokesperson for McCourt said it’s “100 percent committed to building the project,” though he could not immediately provide an update on Hines’ involvement.

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“They have very exceptionally patient capital,” he said of McCourt and Walter. “Their time frame is like 99 years.”

Walter is the founder and CEO of Guggenheim Partners and led the team which purchased the Dodgers for $2.2 billion in 2012.

In Miami, McCourt appears to be moving ahead with plans for a supertall project at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive.

Florida East Coast Realty, Corigin Real Estate Group and McCourt Global Properties released new plans for the project, known as The Towers by Foster + Partners, in November. The 1,049-foot tall two-building development would be the tallest along the Eastern Seaboard south of New York City and would hold 660 residential units.

McCourt Partners has already made investments in New York City, London, Miami and Austin totaling more than 5.5 million square feet, according to a statement from the firm.

Peter Wilhelm, former Dodgers CFO and a senior managing director at McCourt Partners, told The Real Deal in 2014 that McCourt was eying “sexy” deals.

“We were trying to figure out, do we want to become more of a development company or more of a buy-and-hold real estate company?” he explained. “Frank kept coming back to sexy development deals and the idea of building important buildings. There were some trophy assets that we were looking to do on a buy-and-hold basis in big cities, which also piqued his fancy, but these mixed-use developments, which had residential up top and office and retail at the bottom became a recurring theme.”