Michael Messner (CE 1976) serves as partner with the hedge fund Seminole Capital, managing more than $1 billion in assets. He recently spoke with Jeffry Scott for the AJC to discuss Red Fields to Green Fields, a project funded by Messner and his wife to reclaim commercial property overbuilt and worth less than its loans. Red Fields to Green Fields has been receiving a lot of attention based on Messner's financial expertise and ties to the city of Atlanta.
Red Fields to Green Fields is a public/private effort to acquire financially distressed properties (real estate "in the red") and convert these properties into public parks and adjacent land "banked" for future sustainable development. The public-private partnerships would buy distressed properties and remove buildings, using loans from the Land Bank Fund. A portion of the land would be turned into a park, and the remaining land would be redeveloped at a later date to retire the loan.
According to Messner, more than one-third of commercial real estate loans are projected to be underwater by the end of 2010, and a total of $770 billion in commercial loans are expected to go into a negative equity position from now through 2014. Red Fields to Green Fields would benefit the economy by removing bad loans from banks’ books, avoiding bank failures. It would also create jobs in park design, construction and maintenance, and increase the values of businesses and residences near the finished parks. Messner states "Each phase would create jobs and support property values."
In addition, the project would also benefit the community in multiple ways. It would replace concrete and glass with trees, green space, and cleaner air; remove abandoned buildings that attract crime and vagrancy; create space for recreation, play, and exercise to combat obesity and poor health; and offer adults a place to gather and connect with neighbors.
To read Messner's interview with the AJC, visit: http://www.ajc.com/business/ny-hedge-fund-partner-618681.html.
For additional information about Red Fields to Green Fields,