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The "if you build it, they will come” mentality is long gone, according to Stockbridge Capital Group managing director Andrea Pauls Backman, who's speaking at tomorrow's Bisnow Chicago Retail Real Estate Summit (sign up now). Retail operators and developers (the few that are out there) are responding to shoppers' needs and wants rather than the other way around.
Mick Siegel and Andrea Pauls Backman in 2011
Andrea (with her husband, Mick Siegel, at their daughter’s wedding last year) started in the business in middle school (she was calculating cap rates before she knew fractions) and after 30 years, retail feels "smarter and more efficient." Tenant footprints are shrinking and productivity PSF rising. Her firm manages $4.7B worth of assets nationwide—the Chicago portion is 3.5M SF of industrial and a portfolio of grocery-anchored neighborhood centers—and its clients are looking for both core and value-add deals. If it's in the right submarket with a solid tenant lineup, she says, Stockbridge doesn't shy away from some vacancy risk or needed renovations.
Mid-America Mini
Jason Friedman, Rob Rowe, and David Pezza, February 2011
Pircher Nichols & Meeks partner David Pezza (right, with Friedman Properties' Jason Friedman and Sierra's Rob Rowe at last year'ssummit) is reprising his role as moderator at tomorrow's event; he tells us it was difficult to come up with questions last year without sounding pessimistic. But now "the markets feel better" with stronger transactions. He expected more foreclosures and buying at the bottom, but the bottom doesn't seem to be as low as everyone expected, he says, and he's eager to see whether the other panelists are experiencing the same optimism.
Ed Woodbury
Another of tomorrow's panelists, McCaffery Interests prez Ed Woodbury, tells us his firm invests in underutilized properties (like Chicago Lakeside, a 500-acre redevelopment of the US Steel Southworks mill), underperforming ones (like Roosevelt Collection, a redevelopment of 260k SF of retail, along with the potential development of 1,200 apartment units), and high-performing properties (as in the redevelopment of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park). The common denominator is urban. McCaffery is bullish on Chicago, which is "rich and diverse," and Ed says those that are well positioned will see rewards from well-managed risks. As for his out-of-the-office exploits, he says he still stinks at golf, a boon to his partners because he donates to their golfing causes instead.
Damon Dance and Rob Bond February 2012
Bond Cos' prez Rob Bond (right, with colleague Damon Dance) tells us significant retail pre-leasing for his firm's Maxwell mixed-use project in the South Loop will be announced surprisingly sooner rather than later. He adds that an LOI is out for a big-box retailer that'll be new to the city. Demolition for Maxwell, named after the century-old and still-going Maxwell Street open-air market nearby, will start in late spring. The 200k SF of retail will deliver in fall 2013 and the 460 apartments in time for 2014's spring leasing season.
In December, Rob tells us, he spent a week in South Africa. Despite the hurdles of getting the Maxwell project going, he says, the wildebeests one encounters in the real estate business don't compare to the real McCoy, not to mention the rhino and elephant that charged him. Lucky for us, he made it back to the States in one piece so he can speak tomorrow at The Metropolitan Club. Take a walk on the wild side and join us—register here! (Disclaimer: the above is a dramatic re-creation of events. Do not attempt at home.)
Heitman's Jennifer Boss and JLL's Mark Hunter round out our panelists, and Inland Real Estate Group's Joe Cosenza will keynote. Click on the image above for one last chance to register. See you there!