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PODCAST: Asland Capital CEO James Simmons On Building Complex, Diverse Capital Stacks

Asland Capital Partners CEO James Simmons, center, speaks at Bisnow's New York City State of the Market event Thursday, flanked by Slate Property Group's Martin Nussbaum and Ariel Property Advisors' Shimon Shkury.

Getting a development financed is one of the biggest challenges in real estate, and when it comes to affordable housing, it is basically impossible without some form of subsidy.

That is according to Asland Capital Partners CEO James Simmons, who said capital stacks are becoming more complex and companies are seeking funding in places they have never looked before.

Simmons, who formed New York-based Asland in 2019 and focuses on investment in multifamily, mixed-use and retail assets, speaks on this episode of Bisnow Reports from Bisnow’s New York State of the Market event last week. He discusses the importance of a mix of uses for developments, raising money from diverse sources and getting affordable housing built in this challenging economic environment. 

He also talks about working with Tishman Speyer to raise capital for the firm's billion-dollar project with Harvard University, which had a mandate that 5% of the equity had to come from diverse sources.

Simmons said he hasn't done another deal quite like that since it closed in 2021, but he has been active in trying to connect more people of color with commercial real estate investment opportunities that they have typically been excluded from. 

"Like most things in this world, it is based upon relationships, and there is a specific phrase of having individuals invest in one's transactions, which is called friends and family," he said. "If you are not a friend of someone who has a transaction or family of someone who has a transaction, you won't get invited to invest in that transaction. So what we were trying to do is broaden the aperture of who is included." 

Bisnow’s audio series, Bisnow Reports, examines every facet of the international commercial real estate industry — from the murky future of retail and office to real estate’s reckoning with diversity to the effects of climate change on the built world, and so much more. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Amazon Music, or click below to listen in your browser.