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No, we're not talking about the new divisions in the Big Ten (please). We mean Walton Street Capital's Neil Bluhm, who has directed the acquisition and development of $45B of real estate, and Pircher Nichols & Meeks' legal icon Leo Pircher, Neil's first real estate lawyer whose firm still serves as counsel for Walton Street today. Both were on a star-studded panel yesterday at Bisnow's Chicago Real Estate Summit.
Leo Pircher and Neil Bluhm
Here's Leo (in from LA) and Neil after the panel. Walton Street is known for owning and operating properties throughout the country—from offices in Silicon Valley to The Fairmont Hotel in Phoenix to a 3M SF Chicago-area industrial portfolio. Leo, of course, has been involved in major real estate transactions across the country, from Four Seasons in Chicago to Playa Vista (DreamWorks) in LA and has equally prestigious clients (think Morgan Stanley, JMB Realty Corp, ING). We'd also like to thank Pircher Nichols & Meeks for its sponsorship and for serving as co-architect of the event.
Gene Leone
Pircher Nichols & Meek's Gene Leone may have missed his calling as a talk show host. The general counsel for Walton Street (from '05 to '10 and noted Bisnow moderator) interviewed Neil with whom he has a history: Once upon a time when Gene's daughters were 3 and 6 years old, he took them over to Neil's place for a visit. Seeing Neil, their first question was: "Does that man work for Neil Bluhm?" (He was that humble.) Yesterday though, the talk was about Neil's most recent casino development: the just-opened Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. He says he worked for 10 years to pull together the land, permits, and financing. But he almost folded his hand trying to get the financing after the state took the casino away from Rosemont and reassigned it to Des Plaines in 2008. In the end, he's glad he stuck with it. We would be, too, if we hadn't lost $40 there on opening day.
Keefer Mini
James Solomon
Also yesterday, Avison Young managing director James Solomon had several useful statistics to report: investment volume in office is way up from last year (surprise surprise) with $3B invested in 46 properties in the Chicago area at a cap rate of 7%. Industrial sales reached $1.2B for 22M SF at an 8.3% cap rate, and retail sold $1.8B for 10.4M SF with an average cap rate of 7%. Real estate may lag as an economic indicator, but velocity is starting to pick up, James says. Avison Young was also a valued sponsor of our event.
Michael Semenzin, Marilyn Brooks, Mark Segal
Those were the legends, but here are some other the leaders who joined us. Room look a little empty? That's because MRSA partner Michael Semenzin, Standard Parking biz development VP Marilyn Brooks, and The Habitat Co president & CEO Mark Segal were among the first to arrive just after 7am. Michael is working on a new project at IIT installing new clean rooms and labs in one of the institute's science buildings. Marilyn says the new money melon for parking is municipalities; she's trying to land a few contracts with cities to operate parking garages and meters. She's also on the planning committee for the CREW national convention coming to Chicago in 2012.
Craig Post, Thomas Reckley, Rick Lynn
We drank a second cup with Sheldon Good Midwest managing director Craig Post, Northern Trust SVP Tom Reckley, and RML Capital principal Rick Lynn. Craig is auctioning a former Fogelson development at Eastgate Village in the South Loop with 26 condos and townhomes to individual buyers. In a separate auction, he's selling a mixed-use development site at 4500 W Touhy next month.
Carrie Bradley, Fred Panici, Janine O'Brien
Zeller Realty Group's Carrie Bradley and Janine O'Brien flank Panici Group's Fred Panici in the now crowded room. Carrie and Janine are excited about their company's new purchase of the Wrigley Building on Monday (along with Groupon founders, among others). Carrie will be overseeing some of the new renovations, including cleaning up the building's plaza and making improvements to the ground-floor retail.
Alan Schachtman and David Ariola
Fifield principal Alan Schachtman and CR|Daccord partner David Ariola haven't done any deals together this year, but they do meet on the Lakeshore Path two mornings a week for an invigorating bike ride. Who's faster? On the bike, Alan says it's definitely David. But both are racing to the finish line on transactions—Fifield is selling its Alta and Echelon buildings (bids due next week), and David is about to sign three tenant rep leases in the CBD and one in Rosemont.