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Jan 11 2016


On November 6, 2015 Curt Bailey joined the Kellogg Real Estate Club for lunch and discussed his career in real estate, focusing on his experience with Related Midwest. Mr. Bailey shared the background and rationale behind a number of projects and investments he has spearheaded at Related.

Since 2008, Mr. Bailey has been the President of Related Midwest. He oversees new and existing development opportunities throughout the Midwest with a focus on Chicago. Related Midwest employs a team of 60, whose functions include architecture, planning and design, development, construction, and professional services. He explained that Related does everything in-house and because of that likes to hire young talent and retain them. This way, employees can get comfortable with understanding every role at the company, in contrast to experienced hires who may only be comfortable with the specific roles with which they have prior expertise.

Mr. Bailey shared his experience of joining Related just as the real estate bubble burst, with Lehman filing for bankruptcy six months after he started working at Related. However, Mr. Bailey and the Related team were able to develop a number of successful properties through the downturn. Among these projects were 500 Lake Shore Drive, OneEleven, and South Loop Luxury. Mr. Bailey explained the rationale, business plan, and execution of each development. Several common themes in Related’s strategy were identifiable in each project: 1) Looking for difficult or distressed situations to enter projects at a discount; 2) Maintaining a contrarian but logical mindset; and 3) Leveraging and maintaining very good relationships. Through this mindset and a great deal of hard work, Mr. Bailey and his team have been able to create some of the most iconic and successful buildings in Chicago’s skyline.

Today, Mr. Bailey continues to evolve Related’s strategy. He has led a shift into developing and owning more income-producing properties and providing management services to create a stable source of income for the company over the long-term. This should support the business when development opportunities are scarce.

Mr. Bailey closed by answering questions from students and sharing his thoughts on the market. While Mr. Bailey acknowledged the fears that the real estate market has peaked and the potential threat of rising interest rates, he still foresees further growth opportunities in the United States. He believes that for long-term holders of high quality properties, bumps in the market can be weathered. He is confident that Related can continue to find and create outsized value as it has during this current cycle.

About the Author

This article was written by Edward Yu '17.