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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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Real Estate & Development Conference will be "Developers Fantasy Camp"

Imagine you have been appointed king of Milwaukee for a day. You hold all the chips, you press all the buttons and you pull all the levers. And you are a commercial real estate developer.

What is the one dream project you would do?

BizTimes is asking that question to three of southeastern Wisconsin's most prolific, accomplished and visionary commercial real estate developers. They will present their dream projects at the 10th annual BizTimes Commercial Real Estate & Development Conference.

The theme of this year's conference is "Developers Fantasy Camp." The panelists who will present their dream projects at the conference will be:

Gary Grunau, president of Grucon Group in Milwaukee. Grunau has more than 40 years of construction and development experience. Grunau's Downtown Milwaukee development projects include the former Grand Avenue Middle School (now Milwaukee Academy of Chinese Language), the Milwaukee Education Center (now part of Golda Meir School), the Hyatt Regency, Schlitz Park, the Wisconsin Center, Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Riverwalk System, the Time Warner Building and the Boston Store Revitalization, as well as ManpowerGroup's world headquarters.

Bob Monnat, partner and chief operating officer of Mandel Group Inc. in Milwaukee. Monnat joined Mandel Group in 1999 after previous experience with the company's predecessor, Trammel Crow Residential. He also served as vice president of Wispark Corp. Monnat oversees Mandel Group's three primary disciplines: development, construction and property management. Monnat specializes in multi-family and mixed use development, including urban revitalization, in-fill development, brownfield redevelopment and traditional neighborhood development. As chief operating officer of Milwaukee-based Mandel Group, Monnat has been involved in the development of several major building projects, including University Club Tower, the North End and the East Pointe Commons projects in downtown Milwaukee, Gaslight Lofts in the Historic Third Ward and the LightHorse 4041 project now under construction in Shorewood.

Blair Williams, founder of Winder Real Estate Development Inc. (WiRED). Williams is a native Milwaukeean and is passionate about the city. Williams previously worked at Mandel Group. WiRED is a boutique real estate development, consulting and construction firm passionate about the development and redevelopment of communities. The company believes in the value of connectedness – the social connections between people and their physical links to the community. Williams is the owner of WiRED Properties, a Milwaukee-based boutique real estate development, construction and consulting firm. WiRED's developments include The Cornerstone, a mixed-use project on Oakland Avenue in Shorewood, and Ravenna, another mixed-use project now under construction in Shorewood. The firm has also done consulting work for Pabst Farms, Steiner + Associates and HSI Properties.

This could be you. BizTimes is inviting other members of the real estate development industry or other visionaries in the community to present their ideal dream projects for the region. If any of them pass muster, BizTimes will add one more panelist to the program. Send your dream project idea to Andrew.Weiland@biztimes.com.

The panelists of developers will make the case for community support for each of their dream projects to judges at the conference. The judges will include Mark Eppli, interim James H. Keyes Dean of Business Administration and Robert B. Bell Sr. Chair in Real Estate at Marquette University, and Andrew Weiland, managing editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.

This year's BizTimes Commercial Real Estate Conference will be interactive in real time. Members of the audience will have the opportunity to comment on Twitter about each of the projects with their smartphones and iPads during the conference. Members of the audience also will vote on which project would provide the best value to the community.

The BizTimes Commercial Real Estate Conference is presented annually in partnership with the Robert B. Bell Sr. Chair in Real Estate at Marquette University and the Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin (CARW). Opening remarks will be provided by Jim Villa, president of CARW.

The conference will take place on Thursday, Nov. 1, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at Potawatomi Bingo Casino. To register to attend the conference, visit biztimes.com/creconference.

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