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NEW YORK CITY-Carlton Strategic Ventures is rolling out its previously announced $300-million first mortgage joint venture with an institutional real estate investment firm. Known as CSV Mortgage Capital, it will provide up to 65% of currently underwritten first mortgage value to qualifying borrowers, says Carlton Group chairman and CEO Howard Michaels.

CSV Mortgage Capital will be targeting first mortgage loan transactions across the US, with a total transaction size of $20 million to $100 million. According to a release, the JV will aim at borrowers who have an opportunity to acquire their loans from the existing lenders at a discount; partially occupied buildings in “fundamentally strong and tight” markets; borrowers who need capital, either to refinance their existing loans or to make opportunistic acquisitions; or transitional properties which require tenant improvement or leasing dollars to lease a vacant space or re- tenanting to add value.

The principal transaction arm of Carlton, CSV launched the venture because “there is virtually no first mortgage capital available,” Dax Scharfstein, general counsel and managing director, tells GlobeSt.com. “So long as we find the right deals, we think the risk is nominal compared to the reward. We will be making 11% first mortgage loans to borrowers on cash-flowing properties and transitional properties that have a good story.”

The first mortgage JV will be targeting all asset types, with the exception of land. “Hotel properties and transitional properties–i.e. properties that need to be leased up–will probably be looked at a little more conservatively,” Scharfstein says. “But that will depend on the current underwriting, the market we are in, the quality of the sponsor and whether there is a value-add play to be made.”

Most of the loans will be floating rate with two-year terms and a one-year extension option. However, CSV Mortgage Capital will consider fixed rate loans with maturities no greater than five years. The JV is looking at targeted debt service coverage of 1.0x, with some interest reserve, and loan amounts up to $100 million.

As previously reported on GlobeSt.com, the new facility will complement CSV’s existing lineup of funds, which includes a $400-million JV with Prudential Insurance Co. for mezzanine lending on a principal basis and an opportunistic fund through which CSV has acquired $500 million in loans from Wachovia and Merrill Lynch, among other banks. “This new addition to the CSV family of funds is to provide first mortgage capital–which is where we think the greatest opportunities lie right now,” Michaels told GlobeSt.com in January.

Michaels, Scharfstein and partner Michael J. Campbell, along with a number of other senior investment bankers and analysts, will be the principal team originating, underwriting and executing CSV Mortgage Capital’s principal transaction business. Last year, the Carlton Group closed $4 billion in transactions, Michaels told GlobeSt.com in January. It favors structured deals that combine or syndicate capital sources.

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