EagleBank’s Ryan Riel, Tony Marquez Discuss Bank’s Role in DC Region

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EagleBank, based in Bethesda, Md., is growing quickly as a cornerstone lender for the Washington, D.C., business community.

It prides itself on being a community bank and serving not only its clients, but the larger community as well, and playing a role in the transformation of the D.C. area, said EagleBank Chief Real Estate Lending Officer Ryan Riel.  

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EagleBank is currently involved in a number of CRE deals throughout the D.C. region, including developments at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda; a 340-unit multifamily project with NRP Group in Greenbelt, Md.; and the Liz, a mixed-use development located in D.C.’s historic 14th Street corridor.

Commercial Observer spoke with Riel and Tony Marquez, president of commercial lending at EagleBank, about how they view the bank’s role in the region’s CRE lending industry.

Commercial Observer: What is your lending philosophy?

Tony Marquez: From the start, EagleBank set out to be a community builder with a deep commitment to the communities we serve. As a community bank, we build relationships internally and externally based on mutual respect and our ability to get it done. This is seen most clearly on our CRE lending team, and increasingly with our commercial lending teams, where our deep expertise of the DMV area, combined with our client-first mentality, allows us to serve as a debt capital provider who makes local credit decisions and can offer flexible financing solutions for our customers. 

Ryan Riel: Our main goal is to make safe and sound loans that benefit not only our customers, but the community as a whole. Rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach, we create flexible lending solutions tailor-made for each customer’s unique needs. At the end of the day, EagleBank strives to be a community builder in every sense of the word — and we have been a big player in the transformation of the D.C. area over the last 20 years.

What makes a savvy opportunity in your opinion?

Riel: With any opportunity, we like to partner with determined people who are willing to adjust and be flexible as challenges present themselves. A project needs to cater to the needs of a community, while also proving its profitability to be truly “savvy.” As a banker, we need to have a very high certainty that the project will be successful, and our loan dollars repaid. As a steward of our stakeholders, that certainty of repayment is a non-negotiable factor. 

What are some of your most recent notable deals in the region?

Marquez: EagleBank recently announced that it provided $26 million in acquisition financing to support the revitalization of Mazza Gallerie, a landmark retail space in the thriving Friendship Heights neighborhood. This transaction highlights EagleBank’s clear commitment to invest in our community, leveraging our CRE lending team’s deep expertise and unique understanding of the area to contribute to the redevelopment and revitalization of this landmark property.

In June, EagleBank also announced financing for Felice Development Group’s acquisition of land in the Capitol Riverfront area, where they are planning to develop a large-scale, mixed-use project with 900 multifamily units, 45,000 square feet of retail, and green space. EagleBank is proud to play a role in the continued development of the Capitol Riverfront area, and we are happy to facilitate the evolution of this neighborhood and the community as a whole. 

EagleBank also provided financing to support Perseus TDC’s newest project in northwest D.C. — a unique project in the heart of one of D.C.’s most sought-after neighborhoods.

Riel: Over the last few months, EagleBank has financed a handful of key affordable housing projects in the D.C./Bethesda area, including an apartment acquisition in partnership with the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, and a construction loan for the development of the first phase of apartments at Skyland Town Center (a culmination of 30 years of work for the developer). As a community partner, affordable housing is very important to us and will always be a critical part of our financing future.

How has the pandemic impacted the lending environment?

Marquez: Here I would cite the herculean effort that the bank made [with] the PPP loans we were able to make to our clients, which helped them to buy some time to allow their varied businesses to rebound as vaccines have been rolled out and a higher level of economic activity returned.  

Riel: Any time there is an overwhelming event with such a massive impact, there are certain paradigm shifts that occur. The pandemic has created immense uncertainty around several sectors in the CRE space, with the most impacted sectors having been hospitality, office and retail. Our office portfolio has certainly been impacted by the pandemic and it will, in turn, impact how we evaluate opportunities moving forward.  

What sort of deals are getting done as we head to September?

Riel: Reverse migration, due to the pandemic, from core urban areas appears to have backtracked to some extent, but not back to its prior “normal.” Within this trend, a brighter light has been shined on affordable housing, and we’ve seen an uptick in suburban multifamily and workforce housing. 

Are there CRE segments that you are more bullish on for the upcoming year?

Marquez: We’re seeing a great deal of variation amid the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic. Some property types are accelerating while others are not. As mentioned in our most recent earnings call, the residential market in D.C. is quite attractive to lenders and we’re seeing an increase in prospects for multifamily projects this year.

At EagleBank we like to say that we are asset-type agnostic and really want to seek out the loan deal that makes sense for our client and our lending approach. 

Riel: As a relationship lender, we don’t have the luxury of always choosing which asset types we want to lend against. That being said, I’m personally more bullish on affordable housing, for-sale residential and suburban product. We need to pay a lot more attention to affordable housing and are always looking for ways to get EagleBank more involved within this segment.

What can you project about lending over the next year in our region?

Marquez: We are bullish on the region and our ability to continue to seek out loan opportunities that make sense. However, make no mistake about it, this is a very competitive market and EagleBank, and each of our competitors, has to work hard to retain its clients and win new loan mandates.

Riel: The current ultra-competitive lending environment will be present for the next year. There is so much money on the sidelines looking to be deployed, from regulated and non-regulated lenders and everything in between.

What trends are you following that can impact what we see in 2022 and beyond?

Marquez: Capital markets are global, and D.C. is an important location where both equity and debt are eager to be deployed, and there will be no real change in that position in the years to come. The demographics in our region on almost every important metric are off the charts, compared to other parts of the country and the world; that is precisely what makes this a destination for young professionals, families and capital.

Will there be challenges in transportation, regional cooperation and appropriately calibrating our public policy to the demands of a changing world? For sure. But let’s face it, the region is in a very good position to prosper, and as we do so, we want to continue growing and adding to the viability of our community.

Ryan: Overall, we’re keeping an eye on population movement and growth in different jurisdictions. D.C. is still growing, but to a lesser extent than previous years as we’ve seen more relocation to suburbs. In terms of job growth, D.C. is a strong region and is arguably the best job market in the country. The life sciences sector in the D.C. metro area will see continued growth due to the pandemic. Additionally, we are keeping an eye on the remote work component, which could remain in our lives for many years to come.

Can you discuss the bank’s role in the D.C. community?

Marquez: EagleBank is based in one of the world’s most powerful regions, and we strive to support and give back to this community. Through our lending, investing and service activities, we help finance development and revitalization efforts in our own backyard. We aim to continually work on projects that benefit all stakeholders. We believe that diversity of talent equals diversity of thought. We invest in partnerships that help us find that talent and better serve our diverse community, and our diversity, equity and inclusion council was created to drive these efforts.

Riel: The bank has played a major role in the transformation of the D.C. metropolitan area over the last several years. We’ve spearheaded several development projects across the DMV, including many projects along the historic 14th Street corridor. We continually explore real estate partnerships in low-income housing markets and contribute to our community through lending, investing and service activities. We also pride ourselves in having an employee base that reflects the diversity of the D.C. community.

Keith Loria can be reached at kloria@commercialobserver.com.