Martin was formerly president of
Orange County-based Martin Real
Estate Group.

NEWPORT BEACH, CA-In an effort to create a niche in an economy where distressed properties abound, Sabal Financial Group LP, a diversified financial-services firm here, has launched a commercial real estate lending program that focuses on providing bridge loans for value-add real estate opportunities. The program will initially provide bridge loans across all income-producing property types across the West Coast and, eventually, nationwide.

The company has promoted James M. Martin to direct the new program. Martin, a 25-year veteran of commercial real estate finance, investment and asset management, was formerly president of Martin Real Estate Group, a full-service Orange County-based CRE brokerage company. He also held senior management positions with the Picerne Group and ORIX USA.

“Our real estate expertise enables us to take on complicated projects in an industry where speed and service are critical,” Martin said in the statement. “Our advanced technology infrastructure creates economies of scale that allow us to perform quickly and with certainty of execution.”

In its new venture, will focus on projects where a clear value-add opportunity exists, whether through leasing, renovations, repositioning or improved management operations, and loans will start at $5 million. As a non-regulated lender with a proprietary capital base, the company is able provide non-recourse loans and to move quickly with a high level of flexibility for projects with special considerations.

Pat Jackson, CEO of Sabal, said in a prepared statement that the firm has assembled an experienced team that knows how to evaluate opportunities in real estate. “We don’t lend solely on income in place; rather, we focus on the viability of the business plan, the experience of the real estate operator and the end result.”

As previously reported, in August Sabal acquired a CMBS loan portfolio of non-performing securitizations from CW Capital. The portfolio’s securitizations involved commercial real estate assets located across the country, and the acquisition helped bring Sabal’s loans under management from $2 billion to nearly $4 billion in the previous year. At the time, Sabal had declined to reveal to the purchase price for this acquisition.