SAN DIEGO— GlobeSt.com has learned exclusively that Faris Lee Investments has hired long-time client Gene Ventura as senior managing director to lead client development, increase transaction volume and anchor the firm’s new Chicago office at 200 W. Madison Ave., Suite 2100. Ventura, who will remain based in San Diego, is an office and retail developer who brings three decades of commercial real estate expertise to his new role and is well known in the Chicago market. Ventura’s experience includes the development, leasing and disposition of four Chicago-area office complexes and seven Wisconsin retail centers.
Ventura joins Faris Lee 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% to 100% occupancy prior to being sold through Faris Lee’s Jeff Conover.
Concurrent with founding Kirkwood, Ventura was VP at Chicago-based Development Resources Inc., 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 VP in the office brokerage division. There, he represented more than 3 million square feet of corporate office transactions for clients such as Oracle, Lehman Brothers, Xerox and Tenneco.
According to Rick Chichester, president of Faris Lee, “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.”
Ventura comments, “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.”
Ventura’s developments have 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 US Representative Paul Ryan.