CRE Summit to explore new partnerships and pandemic-related shifts in Nebraska real estate industry

By: - August 24, 2022 11:57 am

Recognized as a “development of the year” by CRE Summit: The Farnam Hotel in downtown Omaha. (Courtesy of The Farnam)

OMAHA — Omaha is preparing to step up its role as a real estate development center by launching a local chapter of the Urban Land Institute.

As an official link in that international network, local members would be able to tap into more consulting and training resources and form stronger regional and national partnerships, said Jason Fisher, chief executive of Cushman & Wakefield/The Lund Co. 

“It’s ridiculous we don’t have a local chapter,” Fisher said.

This Friday, during the annual Commercial Real Estate Summit at the CHI Health Center, Fisher and and a panel of area real estate leaders will be discussing a movement to gain enough traction for a local chapter of ULI, which has about 60 U.S. chapters and more globally.

Blackstone Plaza renovated
The Blackstone Plaza project lease is recognized as a “deal of the year” by the 2022 CRE Summit. (Cindy Gonzalez/Nebraska Examiner)

The discussion is just one segment of the daylong CRE Summit, which is expected to draw more than 800 people from the business and real estate industries. The conference, started 33 years ago by attorney Jerry Slusky, will focus on new challenges and opportunities in commercial real estate, particularly as conditions have shifted with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among guest speakers and presenters are leaders of area real estate firms and Veta Jeffery, new president of the Greater Omaha Chamber.

Joe Perry, chair of the ULI of Kansas City, is on the summit panel discussing the value of having a local chapter.

Among benefits, said Perry, is the ability to draw national expert panels from the membership to offer low-cost consultation and technical advice on topics affecting a community.

Omaha leaders have tapped ULI for advice in the past. In 2014, for instance, the Omaha Chamber raised funds to pay for a ULI study group that led to suggestions on how to bring more people more regularly to the Omaha-Council Bluffs riverfront. The neighbor cities since then have made strides.

Brenda Dooley
Brenda Dooley, 2022 CRE Summit Hall of Fame

Perry said he looks forward to stronger regional programs and projects if Omaha were to join forces with area chapters in places like Des Moines, Kansas City, Wichita and Oklahoma City.

Curt Hofer, 2022 CRE Summit Hall of Fame

Fisher expects more exposure for Omaha real estate projects and companies, also.

Up to now, he said, many Omahans have been engaged in ULI through national training and conferences.

“You’re learning from the best of the best,” he said.

Also during Friday’s event, four people who have influenced the regional real estate landscape will be inducted into the CRE Summit Hall of Fame.

Kevin Rhodes, 2022 CRE Summit Hall of Fame

The 2022 honorees: Brenda Dooley, senior vice president at First National Buildings; Curt Hofer, co-founder of Jasper Stone Partners; Kevin Rhodes, former principal at Greenleaf Commercial Real Estate; and Mark Westergard, civil engineering and project manager at E&A Consulting Group.

Mark Westergard
Mark Westergard, 2022 CRE Summit Hall of Fame

Other highlights include a pair of “deal of the year” awards to be presented to an Omaha team that worked on the Blackstone Plaza project and to a Lincoln team for the Bryan Health for Cancer Center Partners lease.

“Development of the year” awards will recognize: the Farnam Hotel project in downtown Omaha, which was led by Jason Fisher of Cushman & Wakefield/The Lund Co.; and the Lied Place development in Lincoln, which was led by Tam Allan.


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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics. She has won awards from organizations including Great Plains Journalism, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) and the Associated Press. Cindy has been recognized by various nonprofits for community contributions and diversity efforts. She chairs the board that oversees the local university’s student newspaper.