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Benson Capital Partners launches new $50M real estate fund | Business News

Benson Capital Partners, the investment firm launched by Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson in 2019, has raised $50 million from local investors for a new real estate investment fund focused on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Benson Capital Real Estate I, LP, as the fund is called, officially closed earlier this month, with investments of $10 million from Gayle Benson personally and $40 million from 10 other investors.

It’s the second fund for Benson Capital. In 2020, the firm created the Benson Capital Fund I and a $56.5 million venture capital firm, which it has since invested in 12 regional startup companies with a heavy tech focus.

All of those companies are located in the Gulf South, an area Benson feels has been overlooked by venture capital and private equity funds. She decided to concentrate BCP’s new real estate fund in the same geographic area for the same reason.

“The Gulf South, the Deep South, from east Texas to the Florida Panhandle, has historically been underinvested in,” said Greg Bensel, Benson Capital Partner’s senior vice president for communications. “Mrs. Benson started the first fund because she wanted to invest in the region and now she wants to do the same thing for real estate.”

The fund will take on investments worth roughly $10 million to $30 million, and is focused on “value-add real estate opportunities,” meaning it will acquire mostly older shopping centers, office complexes and apartment buildings and try to breathe new life into them.

Already, the fund has closed on its first deal—the Riverside Park office complex on Riverside Drive in Metairie near Power Boulevard and Interstate 10. The fund acquired the complex, which includes two, three-story buildings built in 1980, for less than $10 million late last year.

“The buildings have historically been under-occupied so we have a plan to spruce up the building and the area and increase the occupancy so it will become more valuable to us,” Bensel said.

It’s also currently exploring other opportunities in Birmingham, the Baton Rouge region and Shreveport.

Ochsner involved

Though $50 million is a relatively small amount in the broader real estate investment world, funds often raise additional capital in subsequent investment rounds.

Of the 10 local investors, only one — Ochsner — has been publicly identified. In a prepared statement, the health system’s CEO Pete November said investing in the fund as a limited partner makes sense because, “We’ve seen how much our communities benefit when we invest in them and focus on the future.”

Other local investors include high net worth individuals and foundations, Bensel said.

The new fund will be modeled after Benson Capital Fund I. The 12 companies it is invested in focus on robotics, consumer apps, biotech and industrial tech. Bensel declined to provide recent returns on the fund.

Among the publicly announced startups in its portfolio are Hampr, a Lafayette-based laundry service app; AxoSim, a New Orleans biotech firm that has developed platforms to help predict neurological drug trial; and, Inclusively, a workforce inclusion platform that helps match job seekers with employment opportunities.

Read More: Benson Capital Partners launches new $50M real estate fund | Business News

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