Each year, Midwest Real Estate News inducts the most successful commercial real estate pros in its Midwest Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame. This year, we are running those profiles online, too, so that you can learn what it takes to be a top CRE pro. Today, we are showcasing the career of Forrest Bailey, president and chief executive officer of Draper & Kramer in Chicago.
Historic leader: Forrest D. Bailey has been in the commercial real estate business for 40 years, but still gets a kick out of solving the puzzles that make deals happen.
“When all the pieces come together, there’s a real sense of achievement when it’s done,” he said.
He’s the fourth-generation head of Chicago’s Draper and Kramer, and he’s working on solving the company’s latest puzzle: the second rethinking of the big Lake Meadows community in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.
Planned by Bailey’s grandfather Ferd Kramer 70 years ago as the first federally mandated urban renewal project in the country, Lake Meadows pioneered both mixed-use development and mixed-race residential life on Chicago’s South Side. The updated Lake Meadows will include more than 7,800 residences and 800,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.
Always looking forward: Under Bailey, Draper & Kramer has become a leader in value-add acquisitions and management. In San Antonio, Draper and Kramer completed two value-add multifamily acquisitions in the past two years, with renovations underway. In the St. Louis area, the firm is currently developing EVO, a new multi-phase apartment community in suburban Richmond Heights, Missouri, with a second site underway in the historic “Hill” neighborhood.
Bio: Bailey is the great-grandson of Adolph Kramer, who co-founded Draper & Kramer in 1893, with Arthur W. Draper. Bailey went to work in the family business in 1978 as a construction loan administrator. In 1982, he started working as a residential property manager. From 1983 through 1989, he served as a mortgage banker specializing in the financing of major Midwest office, residential, retail and industrial developments.
From 1989 to 1995, Bailey was responsible for overseeing the asset management function of Draper and Kramer’s portfolio, which at the time included 7,500 residential units and more than 2 million square feet of office, retail and industrial developments. He became a CPA and picked up a University of Chicago MBA along the way, setting him up to be the backbone of the company’s substantial asset management program. He was named to the Draper and Kramer board of directors in 1989, to the office of CFO in 1995 and CEO in 1998.
The power of the right team: “Success comes from building a good team,” Bailey said. “Having people in place I know I can trust to handle what needs to be done allows me to see around the corner and act ahead of what is coming.”
Two members of the team are his kids, Madeleine and Nick, the fifth generation.