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How Was This Building Able To Generate $14M From 400 Crowdfunding Investors In 1 Night?

A rendering of J. Jeffers & Co.'s new office building in Downtown Milwaukee called The Huron

One development in Milwaukee just proved how powerful crowdfunding can be for commercial real estate — when the right project comes along.

This week, J. Jeffers & Co. posted a request for equity investment on the platform CrowdStreet for The Huron, an 11-story, new construction office building in Downtown Milwaukee's Third Ward. Investors poured in $10M over the course of J. Jeffers' 80-minute webinar breaking down the investment, and by the next morning had brought the total up to $14M; both are CrowdStreet records.

“Towards the end of the webinar on CrowdStreet, just as we were opening it up for questions, we glanced at the screen and realized we had already raised $10M,” Jeffers said. “It was incredible.”

Jeffers took down the listing not long after, having received a total of $16.7M in offers from over 400 investors, also CrowdStreet records. Jeffers wound up accepting $14M of investment, bringing the total equity investment in The Huron to $21M. Associated Bank provided a $39M construction loan to cover the rest of the $60M development.

The Huron broke ground on April 22 after pre-leasing 48% of its 163K SF to law firm Husch Blackwell. J. Jeffers is developing and will manage the building as principal owner, though it now has over 400 partners through CrowdStreet.

As a Class-A, new-construction office building in a downtown area with an anchor tenant in hand, The Huron is a blue-chip real estate investment. What would hold it back, Jeffers said, is its location in a secondary market and its size that doesn't reach the level required to gain the interest of institutional investors. But fundraising online renders issues like geography and building relationships irrelevant.

“Traditional real estate fundraising connections have typically been built from direct mail, and a lot of lunches, dinners, golf and presentations," Jeffers said. "What’s really amazing about this crowdfunding platform is it’s still fundamentally the same thing. It’s still connecting a sponsor with a pool of accredited investors, but in a much more efficient way.”