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Bernstein Cos. Teams Up With OPZ Capital To Launch Opportunity Zone Fund

OPZ Capital founder Craig Bernstein at Bisnow's 2018 D.C. Opportunity Zones event

D.C.-based developer The Bernstein Cos. is jumping into the opportunity zones space.

The company announced Tuesday it partnered with OPZ Capital to form OPZ Bernstein, a private equity fund focused exclusively on investing in projects through the federal government's new opportunity zone program

OPZ Capital was founded last year by Craig Bernstein, who spent the previous 11 years as chief investment officer of White Star Investments and has no relation to the Bernstein Cos. founders. He founded OPZ to manage investments from high net worth individuals and place them in opportunity zones to achieve the tax benefits the program offers.

As he spoke with investors, he decided the best way to move forward with a fund would be by partnering with a real estate developer. Bernstein Cos. made an ideal partner, he said, because the company has completed over $1.5B of New Market Tax Credit deals, which are similar to the types of projects they would be pursuing in opportunity zones. 

"I needed to scale the business, and I thought it was critical to team up with a best-in-class operating partner," Bernstein said. "These guys are the real deal."

Bernstein Cos.' Marc Duber, Adam Bernstein and Joe Galli

Bernstein Cos. has worked on over 40 projects across the region, its largest ongoing development being the $600M Downtown Bethesda headquarters for Marriott International and an adjacent hotel.

"[OPZ Capital] is the perfect addition to The Bernstein Companies platform," Bernstein President Adam Bernstein said in a release. "Craig has already gained significant traction in the Opportunity Zone space and has done an excellent job establishing OPZ Capital as a premier provider of Opportunity Zone investment solutions to high net worth individuals, RIA's and family offices." 

The fund initially set a target of $500M, but Craig Bernstein said he would not be surprised if it surpasses that, given the level of interest. He said the fund has already closed on one deal in the Midwest and has three more it is working on across the country. He said he gets pitched at least five new deals a day, ranging from $2M to $350M projects. 

"The phones have been blowing up," Craig Bernstein said. "No question it's the hottest thing right now."