Name: Matt Lucas
Company: Sterling Bay
Position: Project Manager – Development Services
Age: 34
Education: University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management, MBA; Saint John’s University, BA
Years in Real Estate: 12


What led you to work in the Real Estate industry?
I have always loved big cities. When I was young I spent many years with Legos; designing buildings and creating cities. Also, I had a keen interest in 3-point perspective drawing and creating skylines. My curiosity for real estate development grew into the eventual realization it could be more than a vocation and evolved into a career I pursued. Ultimately, this love for big cities caused me to relocate to Chicago in 2013.

Describe your current responsibilities:
I am responsible for managing planning, design, entitlements and construction phases of ground-up Office, Multi-Family, Hotel, Mixed-Use and Industrial projects in Chicago. In this role I lead the development project team in the planning and execution of these projects.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
The first 7 years of my career were in Minneapolis where I worked directly for Gary Holmes, the Founder and CEO of CSM Corp. He taught me everything from underwriting a deal to laying out a hotel room to site selection for a specific end-use. Here in Chicago, Tony Pricco and Steve Poulos were instrumental in teaching me the private equity business. Today, I’m fortunate to be in my sixth year working with Ron Frain, who has taught me many things about the relationship business.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I am passionate about entrepreneurship. Given that, I plan to create value in urban areas through development and adaptive re-use. I would like to bring capital together and participate as an equity partner. This could take form via a fund, project joint venture, or principal position with people pursuing specific opportunities.

How long have you been involved with NAIOP and what do you view as the benefits of your NAIOP Developing Leader membership?
I have been involved in NAIOP for my entire career. I served on the Program and DL committees and co-founded the mentorship program in Minnesota. I have found that the benefits extend beyond my home city and for me, NAIOP has really become a national network. I have done projects in Florida, New Jersey, and California and during each project, the local NAIOP chapter represented some of the most respected owners, developers, capital providers and brokers to get to know in each market. Lastly, and most meaningful to me, my real estate career search in Chicago started at a NAIOP meeting in Rosemont in 2010, when Grady Hamilton graciously hosted me and introduced me to many people there including several current NAIOP board members.

What are the three most important qualities you think a real estate young professional should possess?
Curiosity, Tenacity, Resiliency

What is the best piece of professional advice you have been given?
Dig your well before you are thirsty – meaning you may not currently be in a season of need, but prepare for challenging times ahead by building your relationships and reputation.

Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider most significant in your career:
Negotiating a 720,000 SF, 15-year lease with Target Corporation.

What’s your favorite building in Chicago?
The John Hancock Center

Where is your favorite place in the City?
I really love 6-corners at the intersection of Damen, North Ave, and Milwaukee Ave where Wicker Park meets Bucktown. Its grittiness, busyness, and diversity creates a phenomenal combination of culture and real estate.