Befus to be NMHC’s New Legal Eagle

The National Multi Housing Council named Betsy Feigin Befus to the position of general counsel, heading up legal affairs and legal advocacy initiatives on behalf of the organization.

In this role, which is new for the organization, Befus will develop legal strategies to advance NMHC’s organizational goals across various functional areas of the Council, including the amicus brief program and related legal advocacy efforts.

In addition, she will lead key regulatory and legislative issues for NMHC and the joint legislative program with the National Apartment Association, including telecommunications, labor and employment issues. She will also head up NMHC’s diversity initiative.

Prior to joining NMHC in 2001, Befus served as attorney advisor with the U.S. Department of Labor, where she drafted appellate decisions involving workers' compensation matters issued by the department.

NREI talked to Befus about the most pressing legal and legislative issues facing the multifamily housing sector now and what the group plans to do about it. An edited version of that interview follows.

NREI: What legislative and regulatory issues are most pressing right now?

Betsy Feigin Befus: The rental apartment industry has significant legislative and regulatory challenges and opportunities, including housing finance and tax reform, and we are prepared to advocate the industry's interests before the administration and the new congress. Beyond those priorities, there are a number of important issues that are likely to be addressed.

Our industry is highly regulated by federal agencies which directly impact financing, developing, and operating apartment communities. We are urging agencies to justify regulatory proposals by showing intended benefits, realistically recognizing their costs, and basing them on scientific and economic facts.

NREI: What impact do you see from a second Obama term?

Betsy Feigin Befus: Not surprisingly, the past four years have brought a high level of regulatory activity in the area of labor and employment policy, and that trend is likely to continue during President Obama's second term. The National Labor Relations Board will probably continue to defend new rules that would ease union organizing campaigns and elections. Those rules have been on hold pending legal challenges against them and the Board may put out additional rules.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which recently revised its enforcement framework to define how employers may consider arrest and conviction records of job applicants and employees, plans to continue to focus on that issue. On the legislative front, unions and labor advocates will expect Congress to address their priorities, including the "Employee Free Choice Act," also known as the "card check" bill.

Although Democrats added to their majority in the Senate following the November election, it is highly unlikely that Congress would approve such controversial proposals, because Republicans still control the House and would not pass the legislation. We will continue to voice our opposition to regulatory and legislative initiatives that would disproportionally favor unions.

NREI: What about Congress?

Betsy Feigin Befus: Congress may address comprehensive immigration reform after avoiding a meaningful debate about it since 2007. Congressional inaction has resulted in a patchwork of compliance obligations created by federal administrative agencies and state and local governments across the country. Some local laws, if enforced, would even hold apartment firms responsible for verifying the immigration status of apartment residents. We support comprehensive federal reform.

NREI: What’s another issue that will have a particular issue on the multifamily housing sector?

Betsy Feigin Befus: Going forward, telecommunications policy will be an increasingly important area to the apartment industry. Rapid growth in the mobile technology market, and heightened demand from consumers and businesses for wireless connections, make clear the significance of this issue. Reliable, competitively-priced Internet, video, and telephone services in apartment units and throughout apartment communities can impact resident satisfaction and an apartment owner’s ability to attract and retain residents. Apartment owners also depend on the ability to interact with residents through mobile platforms and provide “smart” community amenities. The debate about available spectrum for wireless broadband will continue in 2013.

Forest City Ratner Cos. Names New CFO

Michael E. Lonsway joined Forest City Ratner Cos. as executive vice president and CFO.

Lonsway joined Forest City in 2004 and has served as senior vice president, capital markets with Forest City Enterprises Inc., Forest City Ratner’s parent company. In that role, Lonsway was responsible for investor, bondholder and rating agency relations, capital market transactions and financial planning and forecasting.

In his new post, Lonsway will be responsible for building and maintaining relationships with investors, stockholders and equity partners, as will direct Forest City Ratner’s financial planning, forecasting, reporting and accounting.

Lonsway’s immediate priority will be Forest City Ratner’s largest project—the Atlantic Yards $4.9 billion residential complex in Brooklyn. He will also assist in evaluating new growth opportunities.

Prior to joining Forest City, Lonsway’s career included serving as a divisional comptroller for the global sports management and marketing company, IMG Worldwide. Before that he was CFO for automotive supply distributor Wurth USA (a division of Germany’s Wurth Group). He began his career with international paint and coatings maker, The Sherwin-Williams Co., where he served as a field auditor and international accounting manager.

CBRE Hires Three Pros

CBRE Group Inc. appointed Alex Darragh to oversee its business global corporate services in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The company also welcomed Thomas (TK) Klein and Christopher Dunning to the firm’s debt and equity finance group as senior vice presidents in Oklahoma.

Darragh is currently leader for the company’s global corporate services business in the U.S. central division. He joined Trammell Crow Co. in 2001 as the alliance director for the American Express account and has held several senior positions. Prior to CBRE’s acquisition of TCC in 2006, he was TCC’s international division leader. Most recently he was executive managing director with management responsibility for CBRE’s global corporate services business in the Central U.S. and Canada, a portfolio that includes clients from a wide range of manufacturing, public sector, healthcare and service industries.

Steve Quick will succeed Darragh as the U.S. central division leader for global corporate services. Quick joined CBRE earlier this year after holding several senior leadership positions within the global workplace solutions division of Johnson Controls.

Klein and Dunning will be based in Oklahoma City and will provide real estate finance services across multifamily, office, retail and industrial properties in the Oklahoma market.

Klein has more than 23 years of experience in the financial services industry and comes to CBRE from Johnson Capital’s La Jolla, Calif. office, where he specialized in debt and equity placement across a range of property types in California, Colorado and Oklahoma.

Dunning was most recently with MidFirst Bank in Oklahoma City, where he focused on commercial real estate transactions. He has been actively involved in the commercial real estate financing market in Oklahoma City for the past 10 years.

RJ Kelly Co. Hires SVP

RJ Kelly Co. hired Richard Griffin to serve as a senior vice president focusing on real estate acquisitions and co-managing the company’s capital relationships.

Griffin will be responsible for sourcing, evaluating and negotiating new investment opportunities and for co-managing the company’s capital relationships. He joins RJK with more than 20 years of experience in real estate, having held positions at KS Partners LLC, Northeast Investment & Development, Berkeley Investments and AEW Capital Management.

Bozzuto Names SVP

Bozzuto Management Co. named Stephanie L. Williams senior vice president of planning and advisory services.

Williams and her team will provide advisory services as it relates to the marketing and management of multifamily properties under development and will coordinate due diligence efforts on new management opportunities in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.

She has assembled a team of analysts and project management professionals who advise clients on issues including unit mix and design, programming of amenity spaces, recommendations for apartment and common area finishes, building and site plan evaluations, market analysis, income and expense projections and marketing and operating strategies for the assets in planning.

Before joining Bozzuto Management, Williams served as a development manager for Bozzuto Development Co., where she was responsible for expanding market-rate and mixed-income development opportunities, with a principal focus on growing the company's affordable housing initiative. She joined The Bozzuto Group in 2004.

Three Join Cassidy Turley in LA

Cassidy Turley hired three real estate pros to the firm’s Los Angeles metro office.

Lee Black comes as executive managing director; Jared Smits joins as principal, vice president; and Yvonne Ayala joins as senior associate. All three come from NAI Capital.

Black brings more than 27 years of commercial real estate experience to Cassidy Turley, where he will work to grow its corporate services, tenant representation and project leasing platforms and capabilities. Black was executive vice president at NAI Capital and the firm’s top producer in 2011.

As a nine-year professional in commercial real estate, Smits most recently spent five years with NAI as a vice president specializing in landlord and tenant representation in the North Los Angeles submarket. Ayala previously served as marketing director for NAI Capital, overseeing marketing efforts for its 14 Southern California offices.

VP for Healthcare Real Estate Joins Raymond James | Morgan Keegan

Raymond James | Morgan Keegan hired Lorie Damon as vice president for the firm’s healthcare real estate practice in the firm’s St. Louis office.

Most recently, Damon spent ten years with BOMA International, where she led the organization’s education and research department, specializing in the healthcare real estate sector.

VP of Capital Markets Comes to Urban Partners, Harbor Urban

David Walker joined Urban Partners LLC and Harbor Urban LLC as vice president of capital markets.

Walker will be responsible for actively procuring debt and equity capital for both entities. He comes from the Royal Bank of Scotland’s L.A. offices where he was managing director and headed the bank’s western U.S. loan originations division. He has also been president of JRK Birchmont Advisors, a $203-million equity fund headquartered in Los Angeles with $1 billion in real estate assets, a managing director with Bear Stearns and a director for Nomura Capital Investment Co. Ltd.

Two Pros Join Hilco

Hilco Real Estate Auctions LLC appointed Tara C. Quinn, vice president of marketing and Jeff Azuse, vice president of operations.

Quinn will be responsible for developing and executing tailored marketing and communications strategies to enhance brand equity and support business growth. She comes to Hilco from DDB, a leading worldwide advertising agency where she participated on the creative teams and worked on many international name brand clients.

Azuse will be will be responsible for operations (project management) activities including, auction marketing, implementation and reporting as well as, Web site marketplace management, customer interaction, auction event management, and facilitation of transaction closings. Over his fifteen year career, he has sold more than $200 million in commercial and residential real estate including hotels, golf courses, development land, mineral rights, luxury homes, more than 300 condominiums and portfolios of warehouse properties.

Arbor Names Director in NYC

Arbor Commercial Mortgage LLC appointed Zachary Rechler as director in the company’s New York City office.

Rechler is responsible for originating loans under all of Arbor’s multifamily and commercial product lines, including Fannie Mae, FHA, bridge and mezzanine loans.

Before joining Arbor, Rechler served as vice president at NorthMarq Capital, where he was responsible for debt and equity placement for insurance companies and pension fund investors. He also provided oversight of a regional servicing portfolio, including the review and processing of regular servicing requests and annual lender collateral reviews.

Two Attorneys Join Nelson Mullins

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP hired two lawyers for the firm’s Atlanta office. Andy Litvak joins as a partner and Anne Marie Garavaglia joins as of counsel.

Litvak practices in the areas of commercial real estate, investment and finance, distressed property, workouts and restructuring. He represents developers, retailers, special loan servicers, private equity investment groups and investors in the acquisition, leasing, financing and development of commercial properties.

Garavaglia a former president and general counsel for CRE Cos. and a former vice president for JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A., Commercial Real Estate Finance and Capital Markets Group.

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