Matt Dittman has accumulated a wealth of experience given his relatively short time in commercial real estate development. Senior Director of Capital Markets for CRG, Matt plays a pivotal role in guiding the capital raising and portfolio management for the firm’s multi-billion-dollar development pipeline as he conducts the underwriting, capital raising, disposition, and market research activities for projects across the Southeast, Pacific Northwest and California regions.
Leveraging his expertise, the team closed several successful investment funds, including USLF I and II, which collectively raised over $600 million to invest in developing and acquiring logistics assets with an expected value of nearly $2 billion. Additionally, he has managed the disposition of $770 million in assets, acquired construction financing totaling roughly $880 million and managed the acquisition of over 1,750 acres for industrial development.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?
I was born in New Jersey and grew up on Long Island. My family then moved to Columbus, Ohio, and we eventually settled in the northern suburbs of Chicago before my sophomore year of high school. I’ve remained in Chicago ever since and consider myself from Illinois at this point.
I earned my Bachelor of Science in finance and marketing from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where I also played on the varsity baseball team, including the team that won the 2011 Big Ten Championship. I later earned my MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where I expanded upon my finance and real estate knowledge and grew my professional network.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I started my career with Wintrust Financial as a commercial credit analyst, rotating between different teams in commercial and industrial middle-market lending and commercial real estate lending. I realized quickly that I enjoyed the tangible nature of commercial real estate. I then went on to work in structured real estate finance and real estate investment banking at William Blair and Waterway Capital, where I primarily worked with developers similar to CRG. I supported each organization’s efforts to capitalize various projects, and I knew that I eventually wanted to work exclusively on the developer/sponsor side. My goal was to eventually be in the driver seat, making the critical decisions that brought projects from vision to reality.
Did you have a mentor who helped you get on your feet, or is there someone you turn to now for support?
I would be hard pressed to name a single mentor. I am very fortunate to have worked with some really smart people who possess a high degree of integrity and ambition. I have tried to apply what I’ve learned from them in everything I do at CRG. I also have an excellent core group of friends from grad school—both in and outside of commercial real estate—who I will regularly contact to use as a sounding board.
What does an average day at work look like?
Commercial real estate development requires you to wear multiple hats during any given day. To date at CRG, I’ve worked on over 35 projects in 10 different markets, so every day offers a unique set of tasks and challenges. It helps to have an incredible team here who is always willing to step up to the plate to support whatever is needed to progress a deal forward. Generally speaking, as a senior director of capital markets, I focus on overseeing our modeling and underwriting for new industrial and commercial projects nationally; debriefing equity partners or lenders on current project status; supporting project update calls with regional development teams; working with lenders to provide them with information that’s needed for loan closings; reviewing loan or joint venture documents with our legal team before a loan or JV closing; overseeing internal investment committee memos and external marketing packages for prospective capital partners; and, when time permits, continuing to stay abreast of current market trends by remaining in contact with brokers and reading various publications.
What do you like most about your job?
I am fortunate to work in a group that receives a great deal of exposure to almost every phase of a project. Every day is dynamic, and I work with a team who has a similar set of values and career goals and we rely on one another to propel each other forward. Our team is heavily involved at the front end of a project life cycle—from market analysis and site evaluation, to capital partner and lender selection. We also maintain a hands-on approach throughout the construction and development process; we manage capital calls and construction draws as they are sent to our capital partners and lenders, and support leasing negotiations with our market officers and local brokers. Finally, we internally manage the disposition process for our completed projects.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to work on/achieve that you haven’t already?
It’s been a goal of mine to become more involved in professional and philanthropic organizations. Aside from commercial real estate, I have a passion for mentoring, so that is where I plan to focus my volunteer efforts.
How do you spend your time away from the office?
I will always have a passion for baseball. I try to relive my glory days by playing on a slow-pitch softball team. My secondary sport is golf and I like to get out and play as much as possible in the spring and summer. To avoid Chicago’s infamous winter weather, I travel more between February and April. I am also an avid reader of non-fiction and a big fan of Michael Lewis.