Come to SBT’s 5th Annual Commercial Real Estate & Development Conference

The fifth annual Small Business Times Commercial Real Estate & Development Conference will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee.

The theme for this year’s conference will be "Back to the City." The breakfast event will explore the demographic factors that are driving more people to move back to urban settings and will examine the best practices of successful downtowns.

The annual conference is presented by SBT in conjunction with the Robert B. Bell Real Estate Program of Marquette University and the Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin (CARW).

This year’s panel of expert speakers will provide insight about the rebirth of urban commercial real estate markets from a variety of perspectives. The panelists will include:

Afshin Ghazi, founder and president of The Ghazi Company, a Charlotte, N.C.-based commercial real estate development company that plans to build a $120 million mixed-use development with 200 condos, a 175-room boutique hotel and 100,000 square feet of entertainment, restaurant and retail space in downtown Milwaukee.

Tony Smith, practice leader at S. B. Friedman & Company, a specialized real estate and development advisory firm based in Chicago. Earlier this year, Smith and the Friedman team completed a strategic analysis of downtown projects for the Milwaukee Department of City Development.

Brian Vandewalle, founder and president of Vandewalle & Associates, a Madison consulting company that has opened an office in Milwaukee. Vandewalle created various economic development and downtown revitalization and master plans for several Wisconsin communities and has been hired by the City of Milwaukee as a consultant to create its City Strategic Economic Development Plan.

The conference will be emceed by Professor Mark Eppli, Ph.D., chair of the Robert B. Bell Real Estate Program at Marquette. Opening remarks will be provided by Richard "Rocky" Marcoux, commissioner of the Milwaukee Department of City Development, and Andrew Jensen, the chairman of the board for CARW and principal for The Boerke Company.

The annual conference is intended to provide insight for people and companies with interests in the commercial real estate industry. More than 400 people, including Realtors, developers, brokers, architects, contractors, subcontractors, environmental experts, engineers, financial experts, municipal planners, attorneys and others, attended last year’s conference.

The conference also will include the presentation of the Robert B. Bell Best Public Partner Award to a local government official who has been an advocate for commercial real estate development.

To view an online registration form for the SBT Commercial Real Estate & Development Conference, visit

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