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Joel Carlins

Magellan Development Runs a Tight Ship: Presenting the 2015 E.J. Plesko Award Winner, Joel M. Carlins

by Jocelyn Friedman Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hands down, the best part of the Real Estate program here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the strong connections between our program and top-tier practicing Real Estate professionals.  As a student in the Graaskamp Center I have gotten the opportunity to meet and speak with an incredible array of prosperous Real Estate professionals—alums and otherwise--affiliated with the program.  The individuals who come to talk to us have had incredible success in their fields and are always so excited to share stories to inspire us up and coming real estate tycoons. 

Case in point, last week Real Estate Club had the incredible opportunity to meet with Joel M. Carlins, the founder of Magellan Development and the premier residential hi-rise builder in Chicago.  Joel Carlins was in Madison to receive the E.J. Plesko Award, an annual award presented by the Graaskamp Center to an exceptional developer as part of the E.J. Plesko Distinguished Speaker Series in Real Estate Development.  Carlins is responsible for the construction of over 7,000 residential rental apartments and condominiums across the U.S., and has generated over $3 billion in value since founding the company in 1996. 

Magellan DevelopmentAqua Apartments at Lakeshore East, a 2011 Magellan Development, has mainly focused its efforts in Chicago, and the company is known as the reigning expert in hi-rise residential tower development in the city.  Most notably Magellan is responsible for conceiving and constructing the master-planned Lakeshore East Neighborhood in downtown Chicago’s Near East Side, the largest parcel of downtown land under development in any major U.S. city.  Building 10 luxury towers in the 28-acre neighborhood was just one component of Magellan’s envelope-pushing plan for the site of a former tax-shelter golf course.  As a major component of the project the company developed a 6-acre central park and dedicated it to the city of Chicago, which helped to establish a strong relationship with the city and was instrumental in creating a unified neighborhood with attractive local amenities. 

Hearing Carlins speak about his work on Lakeshore East was fascinating because we got to see how the vision behind a development is turned into reality.  His advice for the would-be developer?  Have a vision, build strong relationships based on honesty, and be extremely aware of what you do not know.  Carlins made the point that the most successful developers are the ones who start with a fleshed-out vision and who are able to convince other valuable professionals to sign on to that vision.  By being humble and recognizing that he did not know everything Carlins (who began his career practicing law,) was able to draw on the skillsets and expertise of a wide variety of individuals and create a team that was more than the sum of its parts.  It was really a treat to hear the perspective of a truly successful leader who has been able to accomplish exactly what they set out to do. 

The Graaskamp Center is proud to present the E.J. Plesko award to Mr. Carlins and bring another exceptional real estate developer to speak on campus. As a student it is incredible opportunity to hear from high-profile professionals and get access to their stories and advice.  What better way to learn than to learn from the best?

2015 EJ Plesko Award