Great Lakes Capital Invests in Community's Future

Look around the many new developments across St. Joseph County, and it’s a good bet that Great Lakes Capital (GLC) is somehow involved in the projects. Ignition Park Catalyst I & II, including the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Lab, GrandView Flats and Townhomes, South Bend Distribution Center I, and the Residences at Toscana Park are examples of commercial and residential projects adding to the quality of place in the county.Look around the many new developments across St. Joseph County, and it’s a good bet that Great Lakes Capital (GLC) is somehow involved in the projects. Ignition Park Catalyst I & II, including the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Lab, GrandView Flats and Townhomes, South Bend Distribution Center I, and the Residences at Toscana Park are examples of commercial and residential projects adding to the quality of place in the county.Look around the many new developments across St. Joseph County, and it’s a good bet that Great Lakes Capital (GLC) is somehow involved in the projects. Ignition Park Catalyst I & II, including the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Lab, GrandView Flats and Townhomes, South Bend Distribution Center I, and the Residences at Toscana Park are examples of commercial and residential projects adding to the quality of place in the county.

The company is a real estate private equity firm uniquely positioned to add value to real estate investments through development, redevelopment, urban renewal and opportunistically investing across the real estate spectrum and throughout the capital structure.

“We’re unique in that we possess an entire collection of capabilities, including our connection with Bradley Company, serving commercial real estate needs. The two businesses are super collaborative and complementary,” said Brad Toothaker, a partner at Great Lakes Capital and president and CEO of Bradley Company.

Toothaker, along with partner Ryan Rans started Great Lakes Capital in 2005 tapping into their individual strengths—Toothaker in the real estate service segment and Rans in the building segment of the real estate industry. Together, they have built Great Lakes Capital to include more than $300 million in investments over the past 10 years.

What determines which projects GLC will invest in? “We like opportunistic, value-add projects where we can utilize the fundamentals we know we are good at,” said Toothaker. The company concentrates on middle markets and several core asset classes including office, industrial, retail, medical office, multifamily and other similar product types as well as mixed-use projects. Since 2005, their experience, long-term perspective and discipline have allowed them to grow to an asset footprint covering the expanded Midwest.

“We think we are good at investing in the right way and not superficially. We are long-term—not flippers. We will go where the opportunity presents itself. The more you dig for opportunities, the more that come your way. We are not market-rate buyers. If a property is on the market, it’s really not for us. We have the creativity to do something different with off-market properties,” said Toothaker.

Their success relies on being active across a broad spectrum of asset classes, capitalizing on opportunities throughout markets and economic cycles. GLC’s focus on value-added, recapitalization, restructure, new development, portfolio transactions and complex distressed situations allows them to be advantaged by inefficiencies in the market. The company benefits from their long-term, but always opportunistic, timeline and patience of capital.

Toothaker has seen a shift over the past decade where quality of place is driving more development. Urban redevelopment and renewal are particular passions for Toothaker. “I love it. I’d look at buildings 20 years ago and be frustrated that someone wasn’t doing anything with them,” he said. “So, we took on one project at a time.”

The American Trust Place building, current home of the Chamber, in downtown South Bend was a gutsy project and one of the first substantial urban renewal projects the company embarked on. “The ultimate goal of that project and others like it which involve public/private partnerships—utilizing tax credits and other redevelopment tools—is to develop a better product with healthier market rents that drive gap funding down. My goal would be that the city does not have to be involved with any sort of investment at all. But we are not at that place yet,” he explained.

GLC accesses three different buckets for its equity needs: 1. Internal generation of equity; 2. Strategic investors in a one-off opportunity, and 3. Private equity.

While they have already grown into the expanded Midwest, GLC’s focus remains with middle markets. They are poised to move on to new markets, pioneering development and redevelopment that improves quality of place.

GLC has 11 employees supported by just over 250 Bradley Company employees. The Bradley Company manages over 10 million commercial square feet, nearly 2,500 multi-housing units and lists over 1,000 commercial properties for sale or lease at any time.

GLC has developed $50 million of projects in St. Joseph County over the last two years with an additional $35 million committed in 2016 for improvements in the county alone.

Top