The Originator is a recently formed fund lead by experienced real estate investors and developers with backgrounds from pedigreed firms such as Fortress Investment Group, Rabina Properties, BlueMountain Capital, and other leading financial institutions. Ascend differentiates itself by providing real estate investors junior capital (mezzanine loans and preferred equity) to fund transitional and value-add business plans. Ascend utilizes its investment committee’s background in real estate investing as well as real estate development to ensure the business plan can be completed if the borrower is unable. Additionally, Ascend focuses on six major metropolitan markets: New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, and Washington DC. Ascend's senior management team has on average 30 years of real estate investment, development, and capital markets experience across all major real estate product types. The Originator is primarily funded by a high net worth individual’s family office.
Ascend sources potential transactions through its proprietary networks developed over years of investing in, developing, and managing real estate assets. Deal sourcing channels include capital market relationships, real estate developers, real estate brokers, investors, intermediaries and other individuals with whom Ascend has worked with over decades.
Ascend’s underwriting process consists of four stages. The first stage consists of the initial screening memorandum highlighting the transaction, the deal structure, the expected returns, and the risks associated with the deal. The next step is a site visit and meeting the with potential borrower, who discusses the business plan and vision for the property. The third step includes final due diligence and underwriting, which culminates in a thorough investment memorandum. The final state is the presentation of the deal and a vote by the investment committee.
Ascend’s investment committee consists of five members and is lead by the two Co-Chief Investment Officers. The role of the investment committee is to assure that prudent underwriting and due diligence are performed and that underlying assets are effectively managed. In order for any investment to fund, both Co-Chief Investment Officers and one of the three additional investment committee members must vote yes. The investment committee is also responsible for developing a macroeconomic overview and market assumptions, providing direction for the investment team, reviewing potential investments and properties managed by the portfolio. On a weekly basis, the investment committee and the full investment team meet to discuss any updates in macroeconomic conditions, results for specific investments, changes in any other risk factors and to review the status of all potential pipeline opportunities.
Mr. Tufariello is the Chairman and Co-Chief Investment Officer of Ascend and also currently serves as the Managing Partner of The Versant Group. Mr. Tufariello previously served as Co-Chief Investment Officer of Commercial Real Estate Funds at Fortress Investment Group LLC. Prior to joining Fortress in 2008, Mr. Tufariello spent 21 years with Morgan Stanley where he was most recently the Global Head of the Securitized Products Group.
Prior to being named Global Head of the Securitized Products Group in 2004, Mr. Tufariello headed the Securitized Products Group in North America from 2001 to 2004. Prior to 2001, Mr. Tufariello co-headed the Real Estate Debt Capital Markets Group and was the sole head of ABS, CMBS and non-agency mortgage trading. Mr. Tufariello holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from Villanova University.
Mr. McDonnell is the Co-Chief Investment Officer of Ascend and also currently serves as a Managing Director and Principal of Rabina Properties. Previously, Mr. McDonnell served as Portfolio Manager primarily responsible for real and hard asset strategies at BlueMountain Capital Management. Prior to joining BlueMountain in 2013, Mr. McDonnell was a Director at Meadow Partners where he was responsible for the acquisition and asset management of real estate debt and equity investments within the United States as well as the firm’s evaluation of and investment in various private market special situations.
Mr. McDonnell began his career at Deutsche Bank where he most recently worked in the Credit Solutions Group and was responsible for the origination, trading and risk management of a broad range of illiquid credit investments including commercial real estate mezzanine loans, non-performing loans, CDO’s, asset-based loans, ABS, esoteric financings and structured corporate loans. Mr. McDonnell received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
Mr. Rabina is an Investment Committee Member of Ascend and also currently serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rabina Properties. During his nearly 45-year career, Mr. Rabina has earned a reputation for value investing acumen and vigilance with respect to signs of real estate overvaluation.
Under his leadership, Rabina Properties has acquired and / or developed more than 25M sqft of commercial, office, industrial and residential real estate, predominantly by buying underperforming assets that were problematic, misunderstood or difficult to finance and repositioning these assets for highest and best use through aggressive, hands-on asset management techniques. Rabina Properties geographic reach extends beyond the Northeast and includes holdings in 20 States and 6 countries. Mr. Rabina also serves as a member of the commercial real estate mortgage investment committee at M&T Bank and has evaluated billions of dollars of loans in that capacity. Mr. Rabina received a B.A. from NYU and a Masters in International Affairs with a concentration in Business from Columbia University.