Feature StoryYour Haas Network
Ted Lee, MBA 66
Chairman, Urban Land Company
San Francisco and Las Vegas
Early in his life, real estate developer Ted Lee, MBA 66, saw first-hand the possibilities of investing in real estate from his father's experience. "He was a butcher with no formal education, but he bought three modest pieces of real estate and was able to retire at an early age," says Lee. "I thought: With my education, I should do at least as well as my father, which would be all right."
After he graduated with his MBA from Haas in 1966, Lee took on the role of real estate advisor for various minority communities in California and worked on urban redevelopment projects on their behalf. He has had a hand in creating such projects as San Francisco's Japantown and Jones Memorial Homes, Sacramento's Chinatown, and the Filipino Center in his own hometown of Stockton.
In 1972, he decided to make the leap from working with real-estate developers to becoming a developer himself. "It's an area where you can start at the bottom and become a successful competitor," he says. He created the Urban Land Company, which he now manages with his wife, Doris, and two sons. The firm, based in San Francisco and Las Vegas, has 50-plus properties, including casinos, hotels, restaurants, auto dealers, apartments, offices, and warehouses. While Lee's portfolio seems to have just about one of everything, this variety of properties is due to his determination to develop each parcel of land to its highest and best use. Always in search of the next challenging or interesting investment, he now averages two new projects a year.
At the Haas School, the Lees have endowed the Joe Shoong Chair which is part of a program to encourage interdisciplinary teaching with the Law School and the School of Environmental Design.