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NEW YORK CITY-Cantor Fitzgerald LP has created Cantor Real Estate LLC and appointed Andrew Stark as executive managing director to lead Cantor’s entry into the real estate investment and development market. Under Stark’s direction, Cantor plans to create a real estate opportunity fund as an investment vehicle for Cantor partners and other investors that focuses primarily on opportunistic investments in various real estate sectors, including dislocated assets.

A Cantor source tells GlobeSt.com that the opportunity fund will be launched “very, very soon” and that “it’s going to be a pretty big deal for us.” Stark tells GlobeSt.com that Cantor’s attention is “keenly focused on development and redevelopment opportunities that have strong underlying fundamentals, but are caught-up in the credit crunch and inertia in the capital markets.”

He continues that “many lenders and owners need to address their development loans/assets and their own liquidity needs. Our expertise as hands-on developers provides us the ability to work with these groups as well as provide fresh capital at the appropriately adjusted asset valuation.”

Stark tells GlobeSt.com that most private equity and opportunity funds are “savvy investors and are very adept at analyzing real estate assets, we add to that a long-term development track-record that yields a value-add return rather than a mere market play return.” He adds that there are dozens of asset investors who can buy a real estate asset or debt position, but notes that there are “far, far fewer who can bring the capital to the table and execute a value-added development plan.”

Howard Lutnick, chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, says that “we view the current real estate environment as providing significant opportunities to take advantage of value-add investments and developments.” He explains that Stark’s background in “evaluating, acquiring and developing real estate assets represent a strategic advantage for Cantor in the acquisition of land and development projects. With the breadth of his talent and experience, we’re confident that Cantor Real Estate is well positioned to bring a fresh perspective to adding value in today’s real estate market by selectively acting upon advantageously situated properties.”

Stark, who has known Lutnick and members of the Cantor Fitzgerald team for a number of years, says that he is “excited about joining the firm and leading the development of Cantor’s real estate group. Ours is an action-oriented and proactive approach.”

Stark has an extensive background in real estate investing, development, and operations. Prior to joining Cantor, he was president of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of WCI Communities Inc. where he acquired almost 5,000 residential units, having secured financing of more than $1 billion from domestic and international institutions, and was a driving force in the company’s nine-fold growth of annual revenues to over $250 million. He began his career as a real estate attorney at Lord Day & Lord, Barrett Smith. After practicing law, Stark joined Halpern Real Estate Development, where he provided financial and legal counsel on a range of commercial and residential projects, including a merger with the real estate investment trust, Reckson Associates. At Reckson, Stark launched an opportunity fund that made acquisitions in the student housing, office suite and other niche real estate sectors.

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