Spoken Here

The Alfred A. Ring Distinguished Speaker Series brings prominent real estate professionals to campus to speak and interact with UF real estate students and faculty.

Chris Corr presents to students
Chris Corr

Chris Corr shared highlights of his more than 30 years in the real estate industry, including playing a leadership role in developing Disney’s Celebration, Florida and numerous other master planned communities. In 2013, Corr (BA ‘86) joined timber giant Rayonier, where he serves as senior vice president of real estate development and president of its real estate subsidiary Raydient.

In his Sept. 1 presentation, Corr spoke of lessons learned, such as the “magic” of collaboration, handling inevitable disputes between building professionals — “a cat (an architect) is different than a dog (an engineer)” — and the importance of understanding that “land use is political.” His final take away: Florida needs responsible community developers who think “holistically” about creating livable communities and protecting habitats in our fast-growing state. “There’s a way to do it responsibly and that’s what I care about. There’s an opportunity to do it together.”

Duane Stiller presents in a classroom
Duane Stiller

Duane Stiller, founder of Boca Raton-based Woolbright Development, provided a wide-ranging “real estate investment short course” on Sept. 22. Stiller traced his multifaceted career, including his 1985 founding of Woolbright and building it into a top Florida shopping center developer. He outlined his “buy, fix, sell” strategy of purchasing underperforming retail centers in major markets, renovating them and selling within a few years.

There are no shortcuts to success in the real estate business, which he referred to as the “law of the farm.” His formula: old-fashioned field work, cultivate industry contacts, leverage new technology and negotiate skillfully. Don’t limit yourself by a lack of funding; focus on coming up with good ideas, he advised. “It turns out people with good ideas will find the capital.” He even recommended books to read, including Machiavelli’s classic, “The Prince.” Given inevitable economic downturns and dynamic changes going on in the retail industry, “You’ll have to be a lifetime learner and be like Machiavelli and prepare for the next battle.”