LOS ANGELES-Nobody's calling it a rip-roaring comeback, butthose in the mortgage banking business are saying that signs ofthawing continue, as illustrated by new loans of $56 millionoriginated by locally based George Smith Partners and Venture WestFunding, plus a new mortgage venture by PCCP. George SmithPartners, for example, arranged a $32 million apartmentconstruction loan, while Venture West has arranged $23.7 million inrefinancing of two conduit loans for two grocery anchored retailcenters. PCCP, in a venture with the Ohio Public EmployeesRetirement System, will originate first mortgages to "takeadvantage of the lack of liquidity in the floating-rate commercialmortgage debt space," El Segundo-based PCCP says.

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GSP did not name the borrower, but it said the $32 millionconstruction loan "on behalf of an institutional client" willcomplete a 180-unit project on La Brea Avenue and HollywoodBoulevard in Hollywood. That project was called the Madrone when itwas under construction by John Laing homes before Laing wentbankrupt, according to previous reports on GlobeSt.com. Theproperty is now owned by Resmark Equity Partners of Los Angeles,which has changed the name of the complex to the Avenue.

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Steve Bram, principal and managing director of George SmithPartners, points out that the $32 million construction loan "is thefirst large construction loan we have completed since the financialturmoil began.” Bram, who was assisted on the financing by GeorgeSmith VP Jonathan Lee, adds, "It was challenging to find a lenderto do a large construction loan, particularly given the new supplyof multifamily product that has recently come on line.”

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The 180-unit Hollywood construction project is built over athree level, 465-car subterranean parking garage, with 14,000square feet of ground-floor retail space. The project was 70%complete when it was purchased, requiring a new loan to completethe construction and cover the lease-up period. The 36-month loanbears a Libor-based rate of interest.

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The Hollywood financing follows another recentfinancing of $40 million

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