Faris Lee Investments Taps Developer, Long-Time Client Gene Ventura to Head Chicago Office Expansion

IRVINE, Calif., February 13, 2017 — Faris Lee Investments has announced the addition of Gene Ventura as senior managing director. Ventura, an office and retail developer and long-time Faris Lee client, brings three decades of commercial real estate expertise to his new role. His extensive experience includes the development, leasing and disposition of four Chicago area office complexes and seven Wisconsin retail centers.  As senior managing director, Ventura will lead client development, increase transaction volume, and anchor Faris Lee’s new Chicago office.
Ventura joins Faris Lee Investments from Kirkwood Partners, Ltd., a commercial development, management and leasing company he founded in 1997 and continues to operate. Between 2000 and 2008, Kirkwood built 100,000 square feet of retail space on speculation in the Kenosha, WI area. Each asset achieved 95%-100% occupancy prior to being sold through Faris Lee’s Jeff Conover. Concurrent with founding Kirkwood, Ventura was Vice President at Chicago-based Development Resources, Inc. (DRI), where he worked with partners such as Oaktree Capital Management and Walton Street Capital to build or redevelop 1.5 million square feet of office space in Chicago and Skokie, IL. Two of those projects in Chicago’s West Loop, Union Tower (1998) and Congress Center (2000), received significant national attention for being high-risk, speculative development; they opened at 95% and 85% leased, respectively. Ventura started his career with Goldie B. Wolfe & Co. as Vice President in the office brokerage division. There, he represented over three million square feet of corporate office transactions for clients such as Oracle, Lehman Brothers, Xerox and Tenneco.
“Gene has been a valued Faris Lee client for more than a decade and we are honored to have him join us. He brings unmatched perspective on retail development and the highest level of transactional expertise to the Faris Lee team, with whom there is an existing foundation of trust and respect. We have long differentiated the Faris Lee brand through its creative and collaborative approach to investment real estate. Gene will be an influential part of further expanding on our brand and unique culture in the Chicago and greater Midwestern markets,” said Rick Chichester, president, Faris Lee Investments.
“I have a long standing and unequivocally positive relationship with Faris Lee on the client side. After the sale of my first retail project with Jeff Conover in 2007, I was so impressed with the firm’s professionalism, unique team approach and in-depth analysis, I didn’t consider another firm for my other retail assets. After selling my retail portfolio I found that I truly miss the energy of the transactional side of the business, and I look forward to bringing my experience and relationships to the team, particularly in the expansion to the Chicago market,” said Ventura.
Hailed as “trailblazing,” Ventura’s developments received extensive national recognition from the press, government agencies and professional associations. In 1999, NAIOP awarded his Union Tower project the Chicago NAIOP downtown office development of the year, and his first retail development in Kenosha received a Congressional Recognition Certificate from U.S. Representative Paul Ryan.
Ventura holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Faris Lee’s Chicago office is located at 200 West Madison Ave., Suite 2100. Ventura can be reached by email at gventura@farislee.com or by phone at (858) 353-7618.
About Faris Lee Investments: Faris Lee Investments is a leading retail advisory and investment sales firm. The company’s high-level retail investment advisors and sophisticated financing experts develop forward-thinking strategies for all retail acquisitions and dispositions and guide clients through complex transactions. Cumulatively, Faris Lee’s leadership has been involved in more than $20 billion of transactions. Faris Lee’s senior advisors are skilled in disposition and acquisition strategies, asset positioning and valuation, marketing, debt and equity structuring, strategic workout and REO solutions and execution. For more information, visit www.farislee.com.

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