Leader of Forest Park Forever receives Woman of Influence honors
The St. Louis chapter of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) honored members at its 13th Annual Networking Awards held on March 8 at The Saint Louis Woman’s Club. In addition to members, CREW-St. Louis presented its third annual Woman of Influence Award. The award recognizes a female leader who has impacted the commercial real estate industry through her leadership, accomplishments and service to the St. Louis region.
Cindy Preszler, broadcast and web meteorologist, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies.
The awards revolve around CREW-St. Louis’ mission to advance, educate and support women to influence the commercial real estate industry. Those honored in 2018 were:
Woman of Influence: Lesley Hoffarth, President and Executive Director, Forest Park Forever
Hoffarth was recruited by the board to lead Forest Park Forever while still overseeing the $535 million I-64 project. A 20-year veteran of the Missouri Department of Transportation, Hoffarth joined Forest Park Forever after she completed the massive transportation project one month ahead of schedule and $11 million under budget.
In January 2010, she assumed the helm of Forest Park Forever, the private nonprofit conservancy charged with restoring, maintaining and sustaining one of America’s greatest urban public parks.
Hoffarth is leading the organization through a transition of its mission. Initially focused on rebuilding the 1,300-acre park, the organization has expanded its mission to partner with the City to restore, sustain and maintain it forever. To do so, Hoffarth and her team successfully negotiated a first-in-the-nation innovative agreement with the City that forms a partnership, secures funding for ongoing maintenance and builds the next phase of capital projects. This public-private partnership is considered a leading national model, with requests from around the country for advice on what it takes to make it work.
As part of this mission, she launched Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park’s Future. The $130 million campaign was designed to raise $30 million dollars to complete urgent capital projects and $100 million to expand the endowment for long-term park maintenance.
The most ambitious fundraising initiative in Forest Park’s history, the Forever campaign exceeded its goal.
Those gifts already have been made an impact in improving the park:
- Rebuilding the roads around the Zoo and Art Museum, adding safe crossings, LED lighting and more than two miles of new sidewalks;
- Rebuilding the bridge between the Boathouse and the Muny and adding safe sidewalks and a connection to the path system;
- Installing a comprehensive new way-finding system for drivers, cyclists and walkers;
- And overhauling the Festival & Parking Plaza above the Muny.
New Member of the Year: Lauren Berry, Gershman Commercial Real Estate
Berry jumped right in after joining CREW-St. Louis in late 2016. She serves as a key member of the communications committee. As a major contributor to its social media outreach, she recently agreed to chair the social media subcommittee.
She started an informal networking event for younger members and also serves as co-chair of the organization’s ambassador committee.
CREW Impact Award: Stacey Hudson, CORE Facility Services
Hudson was honored for advancing the chapter’s success. In particular, she has devoted numerous hours to capturing the spirit of CREW-St. Louis in her photographs. Additionally, she compiled a history of the chapter’s past presidents. She currently serves on the executive board as secretary.
Her impact on CREW-St. Louis started almost the day she joined in 1991. She became a board member filling the slot of someone moving away. Since then, she has co-chaired the programs committee and continues as a member on this important committee. She also has shared the opportunities available in commercial real estate with female high school and college students.
Economic Impact: Sarah Davis and Brittany Burke, CRG; Julie Panagos, Koman Group; Farris Hughes, Fifth Third Bank; Jenny Marler, Dentons US LLP; Eryn Bassett, Environmental Operations Inc. (Everly on the Loop)
The award honors a development project that impacts a community and the CREW-St. Louis members who played a pivotal role in the completion of Everly on the Loop
It took vision to convert what had been a vacant lot into a 14-story, 209-unit residential complex. The site formerly housed the Yellow Cab Company but the building was demolished in 2006.
Working with the community, area business leaders and political entities, formal approval to rezone the property took place in February 2016. Construction began soon after in May 2016. It was completed in record time, opening its doors in August 2017.
The student housing high-rise development anchors the East Loop in St. Louis City. Its impact extended development beyond Skinker Boulevard and connects to the nearby MetroLink station. And it will encourage future development.
The $66 million development greatly added to the region’s economy, supplying nearly 1,000 jobs as it rose from the ground. Equally impressive, 29 minority and women-owned firms were awarded contracts, expanding their capability to tackle larger projects in the future. Apprentices received experience, including several from the Construction Career Development Initiative.
Developed by CRG and the Koman Group, Everly on the Loop features one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that appeal to students at nearby universities such as Washington University, as well as to young professionals who cherish urban living. Leases have been signed for more than 80 percent of the residential units.
The vision to move this forward required the skills of several CREW-St. Louis members.
Sarah Davis with CRG provided legal counsel before, during and after construction, and Brittany Burke handled public relations and marketing support.
Other members include those in the Koman Group, which became a partner in the project. Julie Paganos oversaw finish selections for the common areas and residential units, as well as details for the amenities and security.
Farris Hughes represented Fifth Third Bank, the project’s key lender, and she enlisted Denton’s Jenny Marler to oversee the legal work and due diligence to complete the $52 million syndicated construction loan. Eryn Bassett with Environmental Operations performed the environmental due diligence.
Career Advancement for Women: Erin Torney, Colliers St. Louis
CREW-St. Louis members recognized Torney for her constant efforts to support and advance the careers of women in commercial real estate. In fact, one nominee credits her for helping when she contemplated a transition to a new company.
Part and parcel, she has served in key positions as a member of the golf and ambassador’s committees. She then became co-chair of the ambassador’s committee, which welcomes new members and provides networking opportunities to all members. She is ideally suited for her latest role as co-chair of the membership committee.
Torney holds leadership positions with other organizations outside of CREW-St. Louis, focusing her efforts on education and advocacy to help others advance their careers.
CREW-St. Louis is one of the largest of CREW Network’s global chapters. Its more than 200 members come from all disciplines in commercial real estate. For more information, visit www.crewstl.org. Follow CREW-St. Louis on Twitter @CREWSTL.