Case Studies

Peregrine Group LLC

Real estate development, management and advisory solutions with a geographical niche

Peregrine Group LLC is a real estate development, property management and third-party advisory firm delivering development solutions and industry expertise to clients across New England and around the world. Working primarily within the commercial and residential sectors, Peregrine oversees the construction and management of developments that are both cost-effective and attention-grabbing.

Peregrine handles every aspect of project management, from acquisition and site engineering to debt and equity financing, permitting and construction. The company works with a range of clients from a range of fields including health care, hospitality, retail, residential, corporate and institutional.

Founded in 2001 by Colin Kane and Jordan Stone, the development firm also operates Peregrine Property Management, a full-service management company for commercial and residential development, as well as the Peregrine Urban Initiative, providing expert real estate development services to projects in emerging and underdeveloped urban neighborhoods.

With offices in Rumford, Rhode Island, Newport, Rhode Island, and Boston, Massachusetts, Peregrine is particularly adept at completing projects throughout the Northeast. The company has also completed work as far as Mexico City, Hawaii and the Caribbean.

Taking flight

Kane and Stone started Peregrine in the heady pre-recession days when it seemed like anyone could make a quick buck in real estate development. “In our minds we were speculative developers who would make money instantaneously,” says Kane. “That’s just the way young people think, but it obviously didn’t work out that way.”

The partners kept overhead low as the company found its legs, working out of their basement for the first five years before investing in a growth plan that would expand the company to its current size. “We decided we were going to be a growth company and commit to investing in people, systems and office space and that’s what we did,” says Kane.

Peregrine quickly grew from a two-man operation, expanded into real estate advisory services and soon landed its breakthrough project in the hospitality industry: a five-star, $150 million oceanfront hotel.

Located in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, on the Block Island Sound, Ocean House is a painstakingly recreated homage to the 1868 grand Victorian mansion that previously stood on the site. “We replicated it to within a quarter of an inch because we had to get parking underneath, which was impossible in a historic renovation,” says Kane. The site’s proximity to the ocean also meant that the project needed its own standalone septic system, leading Peregrine to install the largest septic system in the state.

Opened in May 2011, Ocean House is one of the largest privately funded projects in Rhode Island and features 21 residences, a spa, restaurant and beach amenities. Peregrine, on behalf of Bluff Avenue LLC, oversaw the entire process, from preservation and material assessment, coordinating demolition and Brownfield remediation to site acquisition, design, management, permitting, construction and the grand opening itself. “That project the put us on the high end of the hospitality industry, but we’re also working on health care projects, including a $94-million veteran’s home for the state of Rhode Island,” says Kane.

Peregrine now has a team of 75 employees throughout its three divisions, giving the company a deep enough bench to meet any challenge. “We have very skilled people from those working on sophisticated financial transactions to folks that know how to build cancer treatment centers,” says Kane.

With a slate of international development work under its belt, including a resort development in the Bahamas and a series of restaurants for famed “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, Peregrine will travel the globe for the right project; though Kane acknowledges that the company’s real strength is managing projects in its own backyard. “We say our competency tends to be very strong market knowledge in a small space,” says Kane. “If we can drive to it, we will do it. Outside of that area we can get them built, but I can’t tell you what the market dynamics of multifamily housing are in that area.”

This issue arose on one of Peregrine’s earliest projects, a 400-unit off-campus student housing development near the University of Maine in Orono.

“We had the approvals right up until the last planning board meeting, but there were a couple of neighbors who didn’t want anything built and we lost,” says Kane. Peregrine contested the case all the way to the Maine Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in its favor. “That taught us to make sure we understand a place beforehand; it was a very expensive lesson,” he says.

Setting sail

From hotels and hospitals to residential apartments/condos and corporate headquarters, Peregrine does not limit itself to one type of project. “We do such a variety of projects here; I think that really appeals to our team,” says Kane.

Peregrine Group LLC

Such projects include the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, a three-masted, square-rigged vessel and the first tall ship to be built in the U.S. since 1909. Named after 19th-century naval hero and Rhode Island native Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the vessel is used as a floating classroom and was financed through a tax-exempt nonprofit and public subscription. Built for $3 million, the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is the largest privately-owned tall ship and largest civilian training vessel in the U.S.

In Mexico City, Peregrine completed a 10,000 square-foot restaurant for famous television chef Masaharu Morimoto. In the role of owner’s representative, Peregrine oversaw the restaurant’s design and construction while working alongside one of Mexico’s largest hotel ownership companies. Peregrine coordinated activities between senior management, public relations, culinary staff and construction crews to assure the restaurant opened on time and on budget.

The client so was pleased with the result that Peregrine has since overseen the construction of four additional Morimoto restaurants. “When we did Ocean House we got very good at high-end projects — and these restaurants are very high end,” Kane says.

One of Kane’s favorite projects over the last 15 years is the Rumford Center, the site of Peregrine’s own headquarters in Rumford, Rhode Island. The nine-building, 200,000-square-foot campus was a unique project for Peregrine, which acted as both project manager and principal owner. The $40 million renovation of the 19th-century mill buildings showcased Peregrine’s ability to manage projects involving adaptive reuse and Brownfield remediation as the developer transformed the blighted complex into a mixed-use campus featuring 113 residential apartments, 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 7,800 square feet of retail, including a bakery and coffee shop.

“That one is closest to my heart because it was truly just a decrepit building and now you go down there on a Friday afternoon and the whole neighborhood is there,” says Kane. “We didn’t change the neighborhood, but we made it much better — sort of a community center where before it was just an urban space.” In total Peregrine has done over 1 million square feet of adaptive reuse projects over its 15-year history.

Under the banner of Peregrine Urban initiative, the company is working on a mixed-use apartment complex in Roslindale, Massachusetts, a residential neighborhood just south of downtown Boston. Beverly Gallo, who ran an independent consulting firm in Boston focused on assisting private, not-for-profit and public sector clients in developing affordable housing and economic development projects, partnered with Peregrine in 2012 and is heading up the Roslindale project.

“We thought there was the opportunity to create workforce housing without relying on subsidies by looking in emerging communities and finding opportunities to develop with affordable housing but with completely private funds,” says Kane.

Expanding expertise

A lack of qualified workers and a faltering economy have been some of the biggest challenges for Peregrine over the years. While it was initially difficult to attract qualified employees to Peregrine’s Rumford headquarters, city-weary workers are increasingly flocking to the area. “We’re seeing highly qualified people who have decided they are tired of living in Boston or New York and dealing with traffic and the quality of life here is really quite nice,” says Kane.

When the recession led to an overall slowdown in new construction, Peregrine made a crucial pivot with the decision to expand into development advisory and property management with the launch of Peregrine Property Management and the Peregrine Urban Initiative. “Those continued to grow and that’s what really kept us alive: we didn’t lose any property, we paid down our debt and we went to work for a number of financial institutions to fix broken projects,” Kane says.

Moving forward, Kane is concerned over the effect that capital markets will have on the industry as a whole. “We’ve been able to plug in an interest rate and that never moved for a long time,” he says. “That’s likely to change dramatically over the next couple of years.”

Rampant cost escalation in the construction industry is another trend that Peregrine is tracking closely. “We’re seeing a double-digit annual increase on materials and labor, which traces back to centers of heat. There are tons of cranes in Boston, Washington and Austin, so not everyplace has a crane and that’s driving costs up. Labor is also tight because if you’re a good subcontractor in New England right now, you’re working in or near Boston,” says Kane.

At Peregrine, success is measured in brick and mortar results, not potential. “We want to see photographs of buildings on our walls, not renderings,” he says. “The truth is translating an idea or a cocktail conversation into a commissioned, financed, operating building is a very difficult thing to do.”

A young team of dedicated professionals gives Kane a sense of hope for the company’s future. “I love seeing a young team run a project, I might have no idea what they’re doing, but they’re running meetings and making good decisions. Watching a team grow in confidence and competence is a very cool thing,” says Kane.

When Kane isn’t busy running Peregrine’s Rumford office, he is down exploring the company’s newest acquisition — one of the largest marinas on the Newport, Rhode Island, waterfront. “We bought a marina, which means we had to buy a boat,” Kane jokes.

With a strong presence throughout New England and an emerging specialty in high-end hospitality projects like the Ocean House, Peregrine Group LLC will continue to deliver real estate development, property management and third-party advisory development solutions to commercial and residential clients from its headquarters in Rhode Island.

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Spring 2018



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