October 15, 2018
Neil Freeman, chairman and chief executive officer of Aries Capital, LLC, and Michael Shindler, president and chief executive officer of Four Corners Advisors, Inc., are pleased to announce that the two Chicago-based firms have formed a strategic alliance to provide an end-to-end hotel advisory, transaction and financing platform for hotel developers and investors across the United States, Caribbean and other international markets.
The allied firms will primarily focus on serving sophisticated commercial real estate developers and investors who want to add hotels to their development or asset portfolios, but who do not have a commensurate level of knowledge in hospitality. Through their combined expertise, Freeman and Shindler will provide executive-level consulting, along with interim and permanent debt placement, to effectively fill this knowledge gap for clients and provide value at every stage on the hotel development and transaction continuum.
Freeman and Shindler met 30 years ago on the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) soccer fields in Lincoln Park when their children were young, and both have forged successful careers on multiple sides of the transaction table. Freeman, a Stanford MBA, is an innovator in real estate and hotel finance. His firm, Aries Capital has a long history of being on the leading edge for new financing techniques such as Fannie Mae agency lending in the 1980’s, CMBS in the 1990’s, New Market Tax Credits in the 2000’s and now Opportunity Zones. Shindler, an attorney, is well-known for his innovative thinking. He has led complex hotel and mixed-use development projects internationally in senior management positions at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Hyatt Corporation, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Hard Rock Hotels & Resorts, and now as Four Corners Advisors, Inc.
“This strategic alliance affords us the opportunity to give our clients more,” said Shindler. “Now when clients ask about financing, instead of saying ‘that’s out of my scope,’ I can say, ‘I am in an alliance with someone I trust, someone who knows the business, the lending community and which potential financing sources to approach based on first-hand experience.’ For Neil’s clients, I in turn can provide earlier-in-the-development-process knowledge, experience and expertise to help those that might be floundering a bit on the necessary steps to get to fundraising.”
“Michael’s knowledge of how to put deals together, including combining the layout, brand, market dynamics and financial feasibility is second to none,” said Freeman. “He will help us enormously to understand whether a turnaround or development project will succeed and identify risk levels that we can report to our lending sources. It’s exciting to explore solutions to our clients’ problems with Michael, and in a calm, mature way.”
Freeman and Shindler believe they can add the most value for clients who are already well-versed in commercial real estate, albeit new to the hotel space, because those clients are better able to comprehend, assess and leverage advice.
“Success takes a team approach,” said Freeman. “We want to work with clients who listen to our analysis of the market and financing alternatives and help put the remaining pieces together. In return, clients know that we have their best interest at heart and we will be honest with them, whether the message is good or bad. As a boutique financial company, we can choose which clients fit with us and which ones don’t. We choose quality over growth.”
“I never expect anyone to do exactly what I tell them. The sophistication of my typical clientele gives me the ability to put forth what I know. The client digests and uses that information to advance the project,” added Shindler.
Four Corners Advisors has relocated to share Aries Capital’s River North offices and the firms are already collaborating on several deals. Outside of the strategic alliance, the companies will continue to operate their respective businesses.
“We’ve both been at this a long time; we know what we know and what we don’t know. We put our clients’ needs first and we’ll provide value for service and for fees paid. Plus, we like each other, and it’s nice to work with friends at this stage of our lives.” said Shindler.
About Aries Capital, LLC
Aries Capital is a boutique, full-service, commercial mortgage and real estate investment banking firm founded by Chairman and CEO, and life-long entrepreneur, Neil Freeman in 1991. Aries provides permanent and interim financing through direct correspondent relationships with Wall Street CMBS lenders, life companies, hedge funds, regional banks and other institutional investors. During his 40-year career, Freeman has arranged or directly-funded more than $6 billion for hotel, multifamily and commercial properties in the United States and Caribbean including The Roosevelt New Orleans (Waldorf Astoria), Hotel 21 C in Louisville, Kentucky and Anguilla’s Malliouhana Hotel (an Auberge Resort). Freeman and his entities have developed and hold equity interests in real estate worth over $250 million. Through its affiliates such as the Urban Development Fund (UDF), Aries Capital has also provided over $900 million in tax credit and mezzanine financing, which translates into over $1 billion in transaction financing. One of the most successful New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) Community Development Entities with the US Treasury, UDF focuses on the rehabilitation of hotels, mixed-use properties, retail developments, theaters and medical facilities in highly-distressed census tracts nationwide. Formerly a licensed CPA, Freeman has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Accounting from the University of Florida, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University. In addition to serving on the Board of the Bergstrom Center at the University of Florida, Freeman is an adjunct Real Estate professor at DePaul University in Chicago and a former board member for its real estate center. Freeman is a member of ULI, MBA, ICSC, SSA, the Lincoln Park Builders and serves on the board of REIA, the Chicago Real Estate Investment Association. Aries is based in Chicago with an office in Miami, Florida.
About Four Corners Advisors
Four Corners Advisors, Inc. is a hospitality transactions advisory and consulting firm founded by President and CEO Michael Shindler in 2007. The firm provides strategic organizational structuring and related services to non-traditional hotel owners, buyers and developers, lenders to hotels and brand operators in the United States and internationally. Shindler has over 40 years of experience in senior operating, management and development roles for the industry’s top international hotels and casinos including Hard Rock Hotels; Vail Resort’s luxury-lodging subsidiary RockResort International, LLC and Las Sands, Inc, the owner/operator of The Venetian in Las Vegas and many other luxury hotel and condominium developments on Macau’s “Cotai Strip”. Shindler also served as Senior Vice President Development for Global Hyatt Corporation, as well as General Counsel and Senior Vice President for the domestic group in Hyatt’s Development Corporation and a member of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation Managing Committee. In addition to his extensive hospitality experience, Shindler worked for Chicago-based real estate syndication firm Balcor Company, then owned by American Express Company, and was a partner in the Chicago law firm now known as Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. Shindler is an Adjunct Associate Professor of the Washington College of Law of American University in Washington, DC. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina where he has chaired the board for its International Advisory Board of Carolina Performing Arts. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Four Corners Advisors is based in Chicago with an office in Phoenix, Arizona.