Avison Young expands Chicago downtown office leasing team with hiring of Ward and Hemberger

Office leasing veteran Matt Ward has joined Avison Young as principal. Ward is joined by Melissa Hemberger as a vice president. Both professionals join the firm’s growing team in Chicago, focused on downtown agency leasing.

“Matt and Melissa bring a well-regarded track record of client service and industry expertise that will help build our downtown agency leasing platform,” said Danny Nikitas, Avison Young principal and managing director of the firm’s Chicago office. “I have known Matt for many years as a consummate professional, entrepreneurial thinker and collaborative teammate. Melissa’s attention to detail and market know-how are a great complement to Matt’s big picture focus.”

Ward and Hemberger were most recently with Newmark Knight Frank (formerly Newmark Grubb Knight Frank), where they focused on agency leasing, property marketing and advisory work for a large book of clients. They bring with them a leasing portfolio of approximately 320,000 square feet, including 20 West Kinzie, 936 Fulton Market, 167 Sangamon Street and 82 Orland Park Place.

Beginning his corporate real estate career in 1989, Ward has worked for brokerages, developers and owners, formulating a strong ownership mentality under the direction of industry pioneers Bill Alter and William Brown. Drawing on his multifaceted experience, Ward specializes in large, complex assignments and transactions. He has negotiated phased leases with puts and options, vertical subdivisions of office properties, lease-to-own strategies, joint venture agreements and ground-up development anchor-tenant leases.

“Avison Young’s entrepreneurial platform provides us with big market, multinational reach, with the ability to pivot quickly and develop creative solutions tailored to our clients’ needs,” said Ward. “We’re excited to work with the teams in such a collaborative and nimble environment.”

Hemberger specializes in multi-tenant office buildings, assisting owners in maximizing their real estate value. Comfortable with complex transactions and assignments, she has leased some of the city’s most recognizable new-economy buildings, including 20 West Kinzie. Additionally, Hemberger is LEED GA certified and has significant experience in energy consulting and sales for all asset classes and tenants from class A office buildings to large-scale manufacturing.

Both Ward and Hemberger are active community members. Ward is a mentor to inner-city youth through the One Million Degrees’ program and he coaches youth sports and serves his local parish. Hemberger volunteers at Make-A-Wish Illinois and PAWS Chicago.

Ward holds an MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.S. in finance from Illinois State University where he graduated cum laude. Hemberger earned her B.S. in economics with a minor in public relations from Eastern Illinois University.