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(Read more on the debt and equity markets and the multifamily market .)

IRVINE, CA-CIT Commercial Real Estate, a unit of New York City-based CIT Group Inc., has been turning deals in Southern California for a while now. Its bullish attitude toward the market inclined the firm to make a West Coast expansion, which industry veteran Mary Ann Jones will spearhead.

Jones comes aboard as a senior director of CIT Commercial Real Estate. She will report to Tim Zietara, managing director, structured finance, with CIT Commercial Real Estate. The New York City-based Zietara tells GlobeSt.com the company plans to add another three to four professionals in the Los Angeles and Orange County offices where CIT Group already has operations in place for its non-real estate related side of business.

“This move is part of our expansion platform,” Zietara says. “Having Mary Ann join us is all about speed and execution. We believe if we’re involved in high-octane deals, then we need 100% confidence in the market” and need top professionals in place who know that market.

In her new role, Jones is overseeing expansion of a group that will focus on real estate debt and equity opportunities in the Western US as well as Mexico. Deals will generally fall between $25 million to $75 million. According to company officials, Jones’ duties focus on the company’s structured finance platform, including bridge and mezzanine loans, B-notes and equity in commercial real estate transactions.

Most recently, Jones served as senior vice president, originations with Centerline Capital Group. Prior to that, she held positions at Southern Pacific Bank, Sanwa Bank California, California Federal Bank and Union Bank of California. With more than 25 years of finance and real estate experience in Southern California, she tells GlobeSt.com she sees interesting trends emerging.

“I see bridge opportunities in the area,” Jones says. Although the market lacks large chunks of available space for development, the dynamics here reveal “a lot of older product that needs repositioning, where we see a lot of our business.”

Already the firm is closing on large deals, including a complex hotel repositioning in Laguna Beach and a 400-unit apartment portfolio in Los Angeles. Jones and Zietara could not reveal too many details about the deals at this time, but say the $48-million hotel project was highly structured with bridge financing. “It had some buckets of capital for ground leases and some buckets of capital for repositioning,” Zietara says.

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