Each year, Midwest Real Estate News elects a new class to its Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame. This year, we are also running profiles of these inductees on our site. Here is a look at one of our new Hall of Fame members, Wonwoo lee, chief real estate officer with Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Oxford Companies.
During a career that hasn’t yet reached 10 years, Oxford Companies’ Wonwoo Lee has already generated some impressive numbers.
Such as? He has already completed more than $500 million in real estate transactions in both commercial leasing and investment sales.
With that type of production, it’s not surprising that Lee won a 2020 CoStar Power Broker award as a top office leasing broker in the Detroit region.
It’s not surprising, either, that Lee’s commercial real estate expertise is in demand. He routinely serves as a guest lecturer for the University of Michigan’s Real Estate Fundamentals Course.
“Wonwoo oversees the asset management of the largest commercial real estate portfolio in Ann Arbor, and Oxford wouldn’t be what it is without his hard work and dedication to integrity and excellence,” said Jeff Hauptman, chief executive officer of Oxford Companies. “Wonwoo positively contributes to the CRE industry’s reputation because of his collaborative, friendly spirit and his genuine desire to make our community a better place for all of us.”
That community spirit is clear in the work Lee does for the City of Ann Arbor. He serves as a City Planning Commissioner for the city, currently serving his second term. In this role, he reviews and applies Ann Arbor’s Unified Development Code for proposed developments in the city.
Lee also serves as Transportation Commissioner for the City of Ann Arbor, focusing on economic development, strengthening non-motorized transit and promoting accessibility as a metric in public policy.
Finally, Lee serves on a subcommittee tasked with refining Ann Arbor’s comprehensive plan, which will consolidate the city’s current master-planning documents.
“I most enjoy building meaningful relationships with the community and improving our built environment,” Lee said. “Solving complex real estate issues with diverse stakeholders is challenging but always rewarding. I enjoy making deals happen and putting space to productive use with the creation of jobs, placemaking and effective adaptive re-use.”
When asked about his success, Lee is quick to share the credit.
“Nothing can be done without a strong team,” he said. “My success is due to my mentors and community and surrounding myself with the best crew members. I like to focus on service above all else, with genuine curiosity and empathy about others, and delivering excellence and grace in everything that we do.”
Lee has also achieved success by conquering his biggest challenges. That includes time management, something that is essential considering that Lee’s team works with more than 400 commercial office, retail and industrial tenants.
Another challenge? The COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, Lee and his team had to restructure contracts to ensure that they were able to stabilize their local restaurants, yoga studios, gyms and other businesses during the shutdowns. The team pivoted its portfolio to drive value and minimize risk.
“From the public service side, one of my greatest challenges is helping to write effective zoning ordinance that balances environmental sustainability, social justice and economic feasibility,” Lee said. “It’s important to assess policy trade-offs and listen to all stakeholders and public commenters knowing that we won’t be able to make everyone happy, but that we still have to write the most effective, equitable, just, accessible and resilient zoning ordinance language.”
When not at work, Lee enjoys playing the piano and hitting the golf course. You might also find him outside taking his dog Louie on a walk or run.