ULI New York Blog

Recap: YLG Secrets of Success w/ John McNellis


Real Estate Veteran John McNellis Delivers Humorous and Convincing Development Advice to ULI NY’s Young Leaders

By Jonathan Pappas

At a recent ULI New York Young Leaders Group event, attended by over 50 of the real estate industry’s best and brightest future talent, real estate veteran and ULI Governor John McNellis, author of Making It in Real Estate: Starting Out as a Developer, led a highly interactive, informative and entertaining discussion on how to become a successful real estate developer. 

Sharing some of his practical advice and wisdom gained from his 30-year career in commercial development, he talked about all the highs and the lows of working in the industry and how this experience culminated in his acclaimed new book.

Bringing the real estate process to life through humorous and convincing anecdotes and insights, John educated the fascinated crowd about his journey from being a lifeguard at UC Berkeley to graduating from the Hastings College of The Law and finally co-founding McNellis Partners in 1982, a commercial development firm in northern California where he is currently a principal.  

His passion and primary focus has been renovating and redeveloping shopping centers, retail, mixed-use, and office projects in an area that ranges from Santa Cruz to San Francisco and east to Sacramento.

He gave his audience a stylish primer on real estate development with excellent guidance to anyone interested in a career in real estate – buying and selling property, brokering deals, working with architects, brokers and bankers, as well as negotiating with local governments and citizens to move a project forward – there wasn’t one ULI member who wasn’t engaged and who didn’t look to get their personal copy of his book autographed at the end of the session. 

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