Aug 05, 2014

Although expanded, homegrown equity firm still looking for deals in Jacksonville

Co-founders Christopher Lazzara and Marc Fraga launched their private equity firm MountainStar Capital in 2013 in Ponte Vedra.

Now — although it has expanded out West — MountainStar remains committed to mining for potential revenue-producing deals in its own backyard.

Earlier this year, the outfit expanded their operations to Vail, Colorado, especially in the high-end luxury condo market, while also expanding the range of investment opportunities they were looking at.

“We love investing in our own city,” said Lazzara, who maintains residences in Ponte Vedra and Vail. “We are especially optimistic in Jacksonville’s real-estate market and the growing number of startups in the community.”

Currently, MountainStar is considering a number of “income-producing” properties in the Jacksonville Beach area.

“We’ve identified a lot of opportunities we like and we’re seeing a lot of deal flow in Jacksonville,” Lazzara added.

MountainStar recently secured $22 million in lines of credit through a number of financial partners to take advantage of the “historically low-interest rates,” according to Lazzara.

The firm can access those lines of credit at its own discretion.

“In my experience, it’s always better to get funding when you don’t need it, because banks can increase their rates when they know you do [need it],” Lazzara said.

In addition to residential and commercial real estate deals, MountainStar is looking to tap into the venture capital funds its set aside for investment in the innovation market.

“There’s a lot more entrepreneurs out there trying to get businesses going and we’re spending a lot more time vetting startups,” said Lazzara. “And that kind of economic development is good for Jacksonville, as well as the country as a whole.”

MountainStar said events like Jacksonville’s innovation festival One Spark are one good way to identify venture funding potential.

MountainStar offers short and long-term debt financing and equity investments up to $5 million, with a capacity for larger investments.

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