Howard Blair, the self described “construction guy in a suit,” and renowned Chicago commercial real estate executive/developer, has joined Sterling Bay as a director of construction. He leaves Development Resources Inc. (DRI) after a much lauded 32-year career in which he helped bring to life the projects and vision of some of the city’s most recognizable corporate names.
“Howard is a legend in the business,” said Sterling Bay managing principal Andy Gloor. “His business savvy and knowledge of the sometimes complicated construction business here in Chicago is a welcome addition to our team. We are thrilled he has joined our company.”
Blair will oversee development and re-development projects in Sterling Bay’s growing real estate portfolio, coordinating all aspects of the construction process while working closely with general contractors, architects, engineers and government officials to deliver projects on time and on budget.
While at DRI, a company he joined in 1985 to establish the firm’s development services and project management business (for large corporate users), Blair personally oversaw the development of hundreds of properties across all asset types while also delivering an innumerable number of new headquarters. Sidley Austin, Sara Lee and Jenner & Block are among the many notable companies—and anchor tenants—that retained Blair to manage their headquarters relocations. In 2016 alone, he delivered projects in excess of 750,000 square feet for DLA Piper, McDermott Will & Emery, Mead Johnson and Mayer Brown.
During his time at DRI, Blair was involved with many of the largest and most significant rehab projects in recent history including 224 South Michigan Avenue, the Wieboldt’s building, Robert Morris College, 120 S. LaSalle Street and 110 N. Wacker Drive. Most recently, as the project manager for CNA, he oversaw the completion of the insurance company’s headquarters build out and subsequent move-in at 151 N. Franklin. It was delivered one month ago. In all, Blair has completed 400+ projects in his career, leaving a profound mark—albeit quietly—on the city’s commercial real estate portfolio.
“Howard is the guy everyone wants on their team for marquee assignments,” Gloor said. “With him on board, clients know the job will be done right.”
Gloor and Blair have known each other for years but they developed a mutual respect when Hillshire Brands moved its global headquarters to Sterling Bay’s 400 South Jefferson in 2014. Blair was Hillshire Brands’ project manager.
“I like the way Sterling Bay conducts its business. They are straightforward and creative,” said Blair. “I have always admired their ability to adapt and conquer what’s in front of them—and to see the upside when no one else can.”
And for Blair, the passion to build Chicago’s most exciting projects will continue at Sterling Bay. “I love to go in and get things done. I’m looking forward to the next wave of big moves,” he said.