Peckar & Abramson PC is expanding its public-private partnerships practice with the addition of senior partner and practice leader Frank M. Rapoport.

Rapoport will lead the group from the firm’s New York and Washington, D.C. offices, as well as its newly established location in the Philadelphia area.

Rapoport concentrates his practice on construction, government contracts, infrastructure development and public-private partnerships. He represents project sponsors, equity investors, lenders and contractors in connection with transportation, social infrastructure, energy, water and parking projects in the United States.

He serves as the outside counsel and government affairs coordinator for the Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure, the public-private partnership industry’s newly established advocacy nonprofit. He has also been collaborating with the National Governors Association’s Best Practice Center on the establishment of a national public-private partnership best practices center.

NREI talked to Rapoport about why P3 is so hot right now and why it’s a good investment. An edited version of that interview follows.

NREI: You’ve mentioned that more clients are getting interested in P3 projects—why is that?

Frank Rapoport: Other times there was public money available, such as municipal bond financing and other methods to support developers who were trying to build out a new project. That’s not the case now.

I’ll give you an example of a real project out to bid now. LaGuardia Airport looks like something from a Third World country and the Port Authority of New York put out an RFP and wants a real estate developer to bring its own money and redo the entire terminal and then operate it for 35 years. The way you get money back is by charging rent to all the fancy shops. What this means is that the real estate developer of the future who wants a big project has to find partners that are either private equity funds or union pension funds—or even life insurance companies are in it, where they take the place of what government used to do in paying developers to construct new infrastructure.

The other way to look at this is that real estate has always been seen as an asset class to invest in. Well, infrastructure is the newest asset class because it’s a hedge against inflation. In Washington, D.C. there is this new lane on the Beltway paid for with private money and if you want to get around the traffic, you pay based on a transponder in your car. The investors who were behind that then get paid some percentage of the tolls for the next 50 years—that keeps pace with inflation.

NREI: Why is this the right time for public-private partnerships?

Frank Rapoport: It’s a good time because there is this need to rebuild, [which existed] even before Hurricane Sandy. There is this sentiment that government can’t solve all our problems. Democrats and Republicans both feel we’re not going to raise the gas tax on fuel, so what’s the option? There is more than $300 billion in capital throughout union pension funds and corporate private equity that wants to invest in these P3 deals, so it’s only a question of leadership. We have a few states that are rocking with deals because the governors of those states have stepped out and invited these companies to come down and build roads and bridges.

States like Ohio, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Virginia, Florida and Texas—they are the leaders in P3 transactions. In our area the Port Authority of New York is emerging as a key player. The states we think are going to rock this year are Pennsylvania, because it has new enabling legislation, and Maryland, because it’s very jealous of what they are doing in Virginia.

NREI: From an investor's standpoint, why are P3 projects a good deal?

Frank Rapoport: What you are finding is that every day there is an unbelievable amount of new funding that is investing in infrastructure and the newest entrants are not just private equity. You’ve got State Farm and Mass Mutual and John Hancock and all those companies are sold on P3. The guys with the money are saying, “Look at this opportunity. We don’t have to go to South America and Brazil to invest in infrastructure.” We’re the new Third World infrastructure right here.

The Canadian pension funds have earned between 12 and 21 percent on their schools, hospitals and toll roads. In this country that rate of return would be problematic. Our pension funds are happy with 6 percent or 7 percent. Plus, it’s inflation proof. You have an asset that underlies your investment, so you have something to go up against if, God forbid, the deal falls through. It’s a good investment because your investment is in a hard asset. The lesson was that real estate was good—this is better.

NorthStar REIT Names CEO

Daniel R. Gilbert, president and CIO for NorthStar Real Estate Income Trust Inc., was named the REIT’s CEO.

Gilbert was also appointed CEO of NorthStar Realty Asset Management LLC, a newly formed subsidiary of the company’s sponsor, NorthStar Realty Finance Corp. Gilbert has served as NorthStar Income's CIO since inception and its president since March 2011.

Gilbert has most recently been appointed to the role of CIO and COO of NorthStar and CEO of NorthStar Realty Asset Management LLC. Gilbert has also served as co-president of NorthStar since April 2011, CIO of NorthStar since January 2009 and as an executive vice president of NorthStar since its initial public offering in October 2004.

Prior to joining NorthStar, Gilbert spent 10 years in a number of positions with Merrill Lynch & Co., in its global principal investments and commercial real estate department.

Rohm to Lead Launch of SH Group’s Hotel Brand

Starwood Capital Group hired C. Scott Rohm as president of SH Group, Starwood Capital’s hotel brand management company. The firm oversees the development and launch of the group’s two new luxury and lifestyle hotel and residence brands, Baccarat Hotels and 1 Hotels & Resorts.

Rohm will oversee the operations of the SH Group managed hotels, including development, operations, sales, finance & accounting and human resources. The initial five hotel openings are scheduled over the next two years, including Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York, N.Y.; Baccarat Hotel Rabat, Morocco; 1 Hotel & Residences South Beach, Fla.; 1 Hotel Central Park, N.Y. and 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge Park, N.Y.

Most recently, Rohm was president of Turnberry Hotel Group. He has also held senior positions with West Paces Hotel Group (currently Capella Hotel Group), The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.

Bixby Promotes O’Hea to EVP

Bixby Land Co. promoted Martin T. O’Hea to executive vice president and CFO.

O’Hea, who joined Bixby as CFO in 2010, oversees the firm’s strategic planning and forecasting, capital markets activities, joint venture relationships, investor relations and financial reporting. Most recently, he secured $100 million in bridge loans for properties in Bixby’s portfolio. In 2011 refinanced $150 million of Bixby’s long term debt to capitalize on historically low interest rates.

Greenscape Picks Bonney for Board

Greenscape Capital Group Inc. named Patrick Bonney to its board of directors.

Bonney has worked with investment banking institutions for 20 years in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. At Deutsche Bank in Tokyo and in London he originated and executed a multibillion-dollar spinout and merger. He subsequently co-founded three institutional private equity/real estate funds in Tokyo with combined equity capital of $500 million.

Bryan Slusarchuk is stepping down from the board of directors and will remain available to the company as an advisor.

Colliers Hires New Calif. Team, Welcomes Gov. Pro

Colliers International welcomed a team of new real estate pros, including Kyle Matthews, who will serve as senior vice president.

Matthews brings with him a team of three others—Aron Cline, Chad Kurz and Jordan Uttal—who will serve as senior associates. The group will work from the firm’s Torrance, Calif. office and will specialize in investment sales of retail properties across the U.S., with an emphasis on the West Coast.

Matthews comes to Colliers from Marcus & Millichap’s national retail group, where he was a director. There, his team completed more than 120 deals with a combined value of more than $350 million in revenue with both institutional and private investors.

Colliers also added Ed Beasley to the firm’s government solutions team as vice president.

Beasley will be based in Phoenix and will advise state, county and municipal government, as well as other entities on issues relating to economic development, asset management and public-private opportunities.

He brings nearly 30 years of public sector experience in economic development and administration, most recently as the former city manager of Glendale, Ariz. During his 10 years there, Beasley negotiated economic development projects, including the University of Phoenix Stadium and the Jobing.com Arena. He also helped bring the 2008 Super Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl to Glendale.

SVP Joins Capital One Southcoast

Capital One Southcoast hired Christopher Lucas as senior vice president and lead equity research analyst covering the publicly traded real estate sector, including REITs.

Lucas, a 25-year real estate and finance industry veteran, will oversee the launch and build-out of all aspects of Capital One Southcoast’s real estate platform, including sales, research, trading and staff recruitment. He comes to Capital One Southcoast from Robert W. Baird & Co., where he worked for eight years as managing director establishing and building out the firm’s real estate research platform.

Sperry Van Ness Promotes Pro to Organizational Development VP

Bo Barron was named vice president for organizational development at Sperry Van Ness International Corp.

Most recently, Barron was a Sperry Van Ness franchisee, serving as managing director of the former Sperry Van Ness/The Barron Group in Owensboro, Ky. In his new role, he will focus on franchisee productivity and training new and current advisors on the company’s systems.

Seven Pros Join HFF in Denver

A seven-person capital markets team led by Mary Sullivan and John Jugl joined the firm’s Denver office.

The team, which comes from Jones Lang LaSalle, will focus on capital markets transactions in the office, industrial and retail sectors.

Sullivan joins HFF as a senior managing director with more than 30 years of industry experience. She has been involved in the sale of nearly 40 million sq. ft. valued at more than $7.5 billion throughout the United States and has held positions at CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield and Trammell Crow Co.

Jugl also joins HFF as a senior managing director and has held positions at Liberty-Greenfield, LLLP and George K. Baum & Co. The rest of the team consists of two real estate analysts, a junior producer, a graphics specialist and an administrative assistant.

Transwestern in NYC Welcomes Two Managing Directors

Transwestern's New York office hired two managing directors for the Northeast region in the firm’s capital markets group: Gary Sopko and Matthew Schnurr.

Sopko comes to Transwestern from the capital group of Newark Knight Grubb Frank, where he was managing director focusing on capital markets transactions in the Tri-state area. Sopko has sourced, underwritten and negotiated more than $6 billion work of transactions in his three decades as a commercial real estate professional.

Schnurr previously worked at Grubb & Ellis Co., in the institutional services group. In nearly 30 years in the commercial real estate industry, Schnurr has completed more than $4 billion of equity, debt and structure transactions.

JLL Hires One Pro, Promotes Another

Jones Lang LaSalle appointed Managing Director Peter Shannon to leadership of the firm’s strategic consulting practices and business.

Shannon has been with JLL for eight years. Previously, he was a consultant with Ernst & Young, where he led its central region real estate advisory services practice.

Bernice Boucher was also named managing director of the firm’s Americas workplace strategy practice. Boucher brings more than 18 years of experience in workplace strategy and change management to her role with JLL. Prior to JLL, she served as director of the New York office of DEGW and as the global practice leader for the financial services sector.

L3 Corp Launches New Venture

L3 Corp. formed L3 Investment Properties specializing in triple net investments, shopping center sales and investment property acquisitions.

The team will be led by Gary Rosenbaum, Joe McClary and Tony Mesnier.

Rosenbaum is a principal in L3 Investment Properties and co-founder of MMG Realty. In his 25-year career he has acquired more than 50 shopping centers and 25 freestanding properties, covering 1.7 million sq. ft. McClary joins L3 from MMG Realty and Marcus & Millichap’s national retail group. Mesnier also comes to L3 Investment Properties from MMG Realty, specializing in acquisitions and dispositions of investment real estate as well as third-party investment brokerage.

Weinschenck to Head Retail at WRIT

Washington Real Estate Investment Trust appointed Paul S. Weinschenk as managing director and vice president, head of retail division.

He will oversee the growth and operations of the company’s 16-center, 2.4-million-sq.-ft. retail portfolio, all of which is located in the Washington, D.C. area. He spent the past 16 years at The Peterson Cos., where he was vice president, retail for the developer and owner of class-A retail properties.

Bradford Allen Realty Services Welcomes New Chicago Director

Bradford Allen Realty Services hired Allison Reynolds as a director in their Oakbrook, Ill. office.

Reynolds comes from CBRE Group Inc., where she most recently was a client service specialist responsible for overseeing 7.9 million sq. ft. of office space. At Bradford Allen, she will focus on agency representation in the suburban Chicago market.

C&W Hires Retail Services Director, Opens PA Office, Welcomes Back Research Pro

Cushman & Wakefield brought on Greg Tannor as director, retail services and will be based in the firm’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan.

Tannor joins Cushman & Wakefield from CBRE Group Inc. He had joined CBRE’s retail services group in 2006 and completed more than 400,000 sq. ft. of retail leasing.

C&W also opened a new office in Harrisburg, Pa.

The office will be run by the team that currently represents more than 15 million sq. ft. of property for sale and/or lease throughout Eastern Pennsylvania. Additionally, Elaine Mottilla, who recently joined C&W as a senior portfolio manager, will manage a 675,000-sq.-ft. office portfolio in the Harrisburg area while continuing to focus on the firm’s corporate occupier and investor services group.

Additionally, C&W named Jason S. Price as Tri-state suburban director of the firm’s U.S. research services group.

The appointment marks a return to the firm for Price, who began his career at Cushman & Wakefield’s Manhattan office. Most recently, Price was working for Jones Lang LaSalle, developing research platforms in New Jersey and Long Island.

In his new role with C&W, he will handle the research platform in New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester/Stamford, delivering market research and analytics to clients of the firm’s Tri-state suburban brokerage, corporate occupier and investor services, capital markets and valuation and advisory teams.

Lee Adds Senior Associate

Lee & Associates of Michigan added Renée L. de Spelder to the office division as a senior associate, specializing in tenant representation and agency leasing throughout the metropolitan Detroit area, as well as global markets.

Beginning her career in 1992 in Cushman & Wakefield’s commercial office division, de Spelder achieved the position of associate director in 2000. Upon the closing of Cushman & Wakefield’s local office in 2005, she joined Trammell Crow Co., which was acquired by CBRE Inc. in 2006.

Over the past several years, she has been responsible for the sale or lease of more than 8.6 million sq. ft. of space.

Sales Associate Joins Weichert Commercial

Peter Naumann joined Weichert Commercial Brokerage as a sales associate.

Naumann has almost 30 years of experience in the corporate sector focusing on sales and recruiting. He will focus on the retail market. Prior to Weichert Commercial, Naumann was vice president at Teleran Technologies LP, specializing in technology recruiting.

Provenance Hotels Restructures Portland Team

Provenance Hotels hired Dani Boss as Portland, Ore. area director of sales to lead a newly centralized six-person sales team to handle three properties—the Governor Hotel, Hotel Lucia and Hotel deLuxe.

Boss, who most recently served as director of marketing at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Portland, has 20 years in hotel sales and sales team management.

The Provenance Hotels Portland-area sales team includes managers Kara Swadley, Todd Widme, Audra Stephens and Gena Berry and coordinators Claire Fong and Caitlin Cooley, who are based at the Governor Hotel. Also on the team is Claudia Smith, who is based at Hotel deLuxe, where she is catering sales manager.

Provenance Hotels also promoted Chris Bebo to regional general manager overseeing Hotel Lucia and the Governor Hotel in downtown Portland.

K&L Attorney Returns from DC

The Pittsburgh office of K&L Gates LLP welcomed David H. Ehrenwerth as a partner in its real estate investment development and finance practice.

Ehrenwerth returns to K&L Gates following a two-and-a-half-year appointment by President Obama as regional administrator of General Services Administration and, most recently, associate commissioner of the United States Public Buildings Service.

At the U.S. Public Buildings Service, Ehrenwerth helped manage the government’s national real estate portfolio of nearly 400 million sq. ft. across 10,000 properties. Ehrenwerth advises real estate developers, closely-held entities, investment groups and lenders, as well as major hospitals, foundations and economic development organizations. He focuses on real estate development, finance, corporate transactions and complex domestic and international joint ventures.

CoreNet NYC Names Officers, Board and Advisors

CoreNet Global’s New York City chapter elected its officers, board of directors and advisors for 2013.

The officers are Lou Nowikas of Hearst Corp., chairman; Pay Wu of Deloitte Services L.P., president; Lou D’Avanzo of Cushman & Wakefield, vice president; Lauren Nanna of VVA LLC, secretary; and Saeid Garebaglow of Morgan Stanley, treasurer.

Other members of CoreNet Global NYC’s Board of Directors for 2013 include: Communities: Barry Alton, Jeffries & Co. Inc. Membership: Lee Kosmac, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Programs: Daniel Fishbein, CIT Special Events: Mindy Williams-McElearny, WorkSpaces LLC Special Interest Groups: Michael Davidson, JP Morgan Sponsorship: Ted Moudis, Ted Moudis Associates Workshops: Cindy Quan, Goldman Sachs The Board of Advisors for 2013 consists of Marcus Rayner, Cresa; Kathy Winkler, Prudential Financial; Dale Schlather, Cushman & Wakefield; Gina Rizzo, Herman Miller Inc.; Paul Darrah, Bridgewater Associates Inc. ; and Gregg Weisser, The Moinian Group.

Miami Realtors Group Names President

The Realtors Commercial Alliance of Miami has elected Michael Silver its 2013 president.

During the past 32 years, Silver has represented landlords, tenants, landowners, developers and buyer/sellers, in addition to local and national real estate investors. He has successfully negotiated more than 2,000 transactions from original project conception to ultimate transaction completion.