On Thursday, November 6, the Wisconsin Real Estate program awarded James Martell, founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Ridge Property Trust, with the E.J. Plesko Distinguished Speaker in Real Estate Development award. Martell has nearly 40 years of experience in the development, finance, construction, investment and management of commercial real estate. At the Distinguished Speaker Series event, he spoke on his involvement in founding Ridge Property Trust and its predecessor company, Ridge Realty Group, as well as navigating the joint venture with Transwestern Development Co. to form Ridge Development.
“It’s truly an honor to receive such a prestigious award,” said Martell. “As a student at the University of Wisconsin, it was important to me to learn as much as possible from professionals in the industry. Being able to come back and speak to current students, alumni and board members and share my knowledge and experience is an extraordinary and humbling experience.”
The award is part of the E.J. Plesko Distinguished Speaker Series, which features speakers who embody the “Wisconsin Tradition” in their spirit, imagination, entrepreneurial skills and enthusiasm for improving the quality of the built environment. The E.J. Plesko Distinguished Speaker Series was created to bring the considerable real-world development expertise of alumni and board members to all University of Wisconsin real estate students. It was funded seven years ago by a gift from the late E.J. Plesko, former Graaskamp board member, who was the founder and president of E.J. Plesko & Associates. Andrew Plesko now serves as president of E.J. Plesko & Associates.
“Jim Martell's lifelong devotion to the craft of real estate development made him an ideal recipient of the E.J. Plesko Award,” said Graaskamp Center Executive Director Michael Brennan, who is also the co-founder, chairman and managing principal of Brennan Investment Group. “Jim's body of work reveals the optimism and drive of the entrepreneur, as well as an awareness of our industry's responsibility to improve our communities.”
Martell graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.A. in Urban Land Economics, Finance and Investment Banking and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.