Black History Spotlight – Leon Walker
Meet Leon Walker
Over the past 20 years, Leon I. Walker, Esq., has spearheaded cutting-edge community development projects that have generated thousands of new jobs and brought grocery stores and health care services into the food and health care deserts on Chicago’s south side.
As the Managing Principal of DL3 Realty Advisors, LLC, Mr. Walker works closely with municipalities, anchor institutions, and Fortune 500 companies to execute projects that are sensitive to a neighborhood’s character while creating economic opportunities for local businesses and residents. Mr. Walker’s projects are more than just bricks and mortar; they are designed to provide a stimulus that ultimately lifts economic prospects and the quality-of-life in urban communities.
In the past five years, DL3’s projects have created over 3,000 jobs on Chicago’s south side, and the firm is actively pursuing projects that will create over 10,000 new jobs by the end of the decade. DL3’s nationally recognized “Venture Development™” model is leading a new wave of impact investing in Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Mr. Walker is an innovator who continues to be at the forefront of utilizing new financing tools and blended funding streams. During his career, Mr. Walker has structured more than $100 million in New Markets Tax Credits. He was also the first Chicago developer to use crowdfunding for new construction as part of the capital stack for the nationally recognized Englewood Square retail center.
Prior to taking on the leadership of DL3, Mr. Walker worked in corporate real estate services at Jones Lang LaSalle, and in real estate capital markets at Citicorp Securities. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Booth School of Business, and received his Bachelor Degree from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
Professional and Community Engagement
- Industry Awards: Chicago Association of Realtors Hall of Fame Inductee 2022, Greater Chicago Food Depository Game Changer Award 2021, Marshall Bennett Institute Changemaker Award 2020, LISC Chicago Neighborhood Development Award 2008, 2016 & 2019, Urban Land Institute Community Impact Vision Award 2018
- Board Member: University of Michigan Real Estate Fund, Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago Emerging Minority Developer Initiative, Corporate Coalition, Chicago Loop Alliance
- Member: Economic Club of Chicago, Realty Club of Chicago, Commercial Club of Chicago, Chicago Central Area Committee, National Opportunity Zone Coalition, NAIOP, ICSC Government Relations Committee, Civic Federation of Chicago, Urban Land Institute, Illinois Bar Association
- TEDx Talk: April 2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYIx_sbkfQo
- White Paper: Venture Development http://www.dl3realty.com/venturedevelopment
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