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FORT WORTH-With Crescent firmly rooted in Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds, co-founder John Goff has stepped down as CEO of the merged operation in search of a new adventure. The next journey draws on his past, with investments coming in commercial- and residential mortgage-backed securities, stocks and bonds, private equity and real estate.

Goff maintained three primary businesses during his tenure at Crescent: Goff Capital Partners, Goff Capital and Goff Foundation–and all are playing a significant role in his future. “It will be a very measured approach to what I think are smart deals, both in real estate and out of real estate,” he tells GlobeSt.com.

Goff Capital Partners, formed in the mid-1990s, will be used “as a platform to grow,” Goff says. The operation has long had an office in Greenwich, CT, led by Goff’s partner Hugh Balloch, in addition to its space in Fort Worth. This year, Goff and Balloch added a Denver office and a trio of investment leaders with expertise in the RMBS arena: Conrad Suszynski, Rob MacKenzie and John Grant. In Fort Worth, Geoff Lea and Keith Ohnmeis have come on board. The team members have come from Street icons like Goldman Sachs and the former GMAC Commercial, now Capmark Financial Inc. Goff’s sister, Jill, is leading the family foundation.

Goff Capital Partners had been a long-time BBT investor in CMBS, but scaled back over time. Goff says the new plan is to step up its buying of bottom tranches. “Now that the market is in disarray, we think there is opportunity in that in CMBS and RMBS,” he says.

Goff Capital Partners also manages the G3 Fund, a CMBS-buying partnership that began with GMAC Commercial and transitioned to Capmark. Their G2 Fund, formed in 1999, has been closed out. In both cases, Goff says the funds placed $200 million to $400 million of equity.

In the real estate arena, Goff intends to tap his personal equity fund, Goff Capital, to close within 10 days on his first piece of real estate for his new agenda. He is paying $16.35 million for Bombay Co.’s 122,000-sf office building and parking garage at 550 Bailey Ave., buying the headquarters property from US Bankruptcy Court.

Goff says an extensive renovation is planned for the office building, which has 12 tenants in 27,000 sf. “There will be almost 100,000 sf available immediately,” he says, “and we’re already getting good interest in it.”

Goff says he opted to buy the building from his private fund because of the timing. “We were on a short timeframe. We figured we’d close on it and figure it out from there,” he says. A leasing team has not yet been picked.

Goff isn’t ruling out the possibility that the building and future real estate will be used to seed a fund. Likewise, he hasn’t ruled out fund drives for his CMBS and RMBS investment plans. In both cases, Goff, former vice chairman from Crescent’s public days, is focused on opportunistic moves. “We’ll look at anything and everything that we think is smart,” he explains.

Goff and his dedicated four-member team exited the New York City-based Morgan Stanley a few weeks ago, promising an interview when the time was right. He’s stayed silent–until now–to firm up final details and ready the stage for his next journey.

The Crescent management committee circulated an e-mail to announce the departures, stating “we know they will have great success and we wish them the best.” Morgan Stanley, which took the REIT private, could not be reached by press time for any additional comment.

“Morgan Stanley has done an excellent job of incorporating the team. There were some very capable people under me,” Goff says, adding the split definitely was amicable. “And, I suspect I’ll be doing more with Morgan Stanley or at least I hope to.”

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