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DETROIT-Labor-Management Fund Advisors has joined several state-specific Build Funds into its national fund called Build Fund of America to create a $200-million portfolio. The fund, which invests pension funds for building trades-related labor unions, invests in union-built real estate developments around the country.

On Tuesday, Build Funds managing director Scott Woosley, who works from a suburban Detroit office, talked with GlobeSt.com about the fund while traveling to Tampa, FL. There, the fund is a major partner in the Pinnacle Place development, a 380-unit, two-building 41-story waterfront condo project that carries a $183-million price tag. In nearby Palmetto, FL, Build is involved with the Riviera Dunes, $128-million luxury condominium development, which offers 186 units within three 15-story buildings.

The national fund now includes the combined assets of the Build Funds of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The original fund, Build of Michigan, was created about a half-dozen years ago, to provide a return on the pension fund for Michigan carpenters, plumbers and other union builders, but also to support union labor by financing projects that would be built using 100% union labor. Build, which stands for Building Union Investment and Local Development Funds, also directs its investments into the jurisdictional areas of its member unions. Several recent projects in the Grand Rapids area, for example, are aimed at helping to keep union members located there working.

The Build fund caught on in the Midwest, and the national fund was created two years ago. As the funds grew, Woosley says it became logical to combine them into one fund, to create more leverage and opportunities.

“Our investment focus is on providing a stable income stream with the potential for capital appreciation,” he says. Woosley says with more capital now behind the national fund, Build America will be targeting areas that are traditionally not union strongholds, trying to increase union construction market share in those communities.

“We have projects in the Southwest and Southeast that we are looking at right now,” he says. While the fund is growing in scope and geographic focus, Woosley says it isn’t forgetting its hometown roots. Among its current Michigan projects is the Kennedy Square office building now under construction in Detroit. The $51-million building will feature 250,000 sf of leasable office space when it is completed next year.

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