Chicago Power Women: 5 Questions With Farpoint Development's Regina Stilp
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This limited series profiles Power Women who have helped shape cities, neighborhoods, businesses and lifestyles in the cities where they work. These women will be honored at Bisnow's Chicago Power Women event Dec. 4.
Regina Stilp is one of the top officials of Farpoint Development, one of Chicago's more innovative real estate developers. The company, along with its partner Draper and Kramer, is set to redevelop the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville into a mixed-use community. It will also soon start work on the $75M renovation of the Uptown Theatre, an architectural landmark left abandoned for decades.
Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
Stilp: I am a real estate developer traditionally focused on adaptive reuse, identifying value where others see obstacles. What’s great about my job is I get to work through the entire life cycle of a project from acquisition, reposition, renovation and ultimately disposition. It’s looking at an old warehouse or theater and thinking about the history and value that building has and how to value that history, but also how it can be celebrated by future generations. It’s layers and layers of different stories and different neighborhoods. I like to think “What is Chicago” and how can I best draw it out — this city really has a fantastic inventory of old buildings and great stories.
Bisnow: What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it?
Stilp: One of the biggest business problems in development is “selling the dream” when projects aren’t available for traditional tours because they aren’t built yet or are sometimes too dangerous to enter. We are tasked with “celebrating the dream” through marketing and reputation. The challenge is to sell a tenant on your vision and be passionate about it. At this stage your reputation is everything; you must be able to instill confidence in the broker/tenant/partners that you will deliver what you promise.
Bisnow: What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality?
Stilp: The first thing a company can do is truly advance equal opportunity hiring, placing women in the pipeline, making sure they get their résumé into the pile and receive interviews. Sometimes that means seeking out women that are second-guessing the opportunity or being available to have a coffee or conversation with women in the field. To retain women once they are hired, honoring time for family and being flexible is really key. Both men and women at our office feel comfortable going home to pick up a sick child, going to a school play or taking leave if needed. You never get those years back.
Bisnow: What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry?
Stilp: To be honest, it really is about self-confidence as a woman entering the industry. I think women sometimes doubt that they are 100% qualified and do not advocate for a position or raise, but men are more likely to ask for the same opportunities even if they are not fully qualified. It’s important to step up and advocate for yourself, but as someone who is experienced in the field, I also recognize the need to advocate for others. Acknowledge your worth. Overall, the most valuable trait you can bring to the table is to bring solutions. A lot of people can identify problems, but you will be invaluable if you offer solutions.
Bisnow: What do you do to unwind when you’re not working?
Stilp: I love to spend time with friends and family — there’s nothing better than taking my family on long, adventurous trips and getting those quality moments together. I like to stay active as well — I live near the lake and love to train for long races alongside it. In the realm of staying active, yoga and strength training are also an important part of my week. Finally, I volunteer politically as well and stay engaged in current events, which lately has taken years off my life.