Chicago real estate investor Sean Conlon works with homebuyers from Roscoe Village to the South Side in CNBC’s “The Deed: Chicago.” The show debuts at 9 p.m. March 29.
“There’s a lot of real estate porn out there, but this is real,” Conlon told me the other day after filming. “I have new respect for the people who do this. It’s exhausting. It takes a lot of work.”
Conlon follows another Chicago executive in bringing real-life business experiences to TV audiences. Marcus Lemonis, the chairman and CEO of Camping World Holdings, stars in “The Profit” on CNBC.
About six years ago, filmmaker friend Bob Teitel of “Barbershop” fame asked Conlon for some advice on pitching a real estate-related TV show. Conlon joined him in a meeting with CNBC brass. They didn’t bite on that idea, but they liked Conlon’s style, he says.
Anyone who’s worked with him in Chicago knows Conlon for his quick wit, easy smile and an Irish accent that makes you want to listen.
Conlon has just wrapped four episodes. One episode reveals investors who bought the wrong home in Calumet Heights. Conlon helps them deal with the fallout. In another episode, he says he helps a Roscoe Village homebuyer on a $1.7 million deal in which the contractor made off with her money.
“It’s really diverse,” he says of the neighborhoods and price points of the properties. “It’s relatable, educational and aspirational. I’ve made some of these mistakes myself over the years.”
Conlon immigrated to the United States from Ireland as a young adult and started working at a residential brokerage in Chicago before saving enough to start his own firm in 2000, building it to a billion-dollar brokerage before he sold it. Conlon went on to invest in commercial and residential properties. He now heads CONLON/Christie’s International Real Estate, Conlon & Co., and CONLON Commercial and Conlon Capital.
He also has an interest in the Talbot Hotel and Rainforest Cafe in Chicago and properties in California, North Carolina and Palm Beach, Florida.
“I’ve been doing this 25 years. I’m always teaching people,” he says, listing names of top brokers in Chicago who he’s trained along the way. “Now, I’m just doing it for a wider audience with lots still to learn.”
No shortage of bagpipes
The Asian American Coalition of Chicago’s annual gala is designed to showcase how cultural differences can bring the community together.
So how interesting that Gov. Bruce Rauner and state Comptroller Susana Mendoza would both attend. Their differences over the state’s budget gap have turned heads in recent weeks.
Did they set aside their difference to come together at the event?
Nope. Rauner appeared early and left before Mendoza arrived a little later.
The gala was held the same day as Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and featured bagpipers from the Midwest Ismaili Pipe Band. No kilts for this Pakistani version of piping, though the musicians did wear green.
Big gala, gifts for RIC
Speaking of galas, the March 10 fundraiser for the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago raised a whopping $8 million for the hospital’s capital campaign.
The RIC also announced a major gift from Lester and Renee Crown and their family will go toward the Center for Spinal Cord Innovation. RIC wouldn’t divulge the gift amount, which Crain’s put it at $20 million.
The Crown donation follows a major one last year from Shirley Ryan and her husband, insurance mogul Pat Ryan. The couple have a son who was born with cerebral palsy so the RIC has long been close to their heart.
The party drew 750 guests who dined across six of the hospital’s floors in the middle of three ability labs where clinicians, scientists and technology folks will work together. The $550 million hospital opens March 25.
The $8 million raised at the gala makes it one of the largest charitable fundraisers in Chicago in the past decade. In October, $10 million was raised for children’s charities by the Invest for Kids nonprofit.
DeVos’ Chicago connection
Turns out Betsy DeVos, the head of the U.S. Department of Education, has some Chicago connections.
Her brother-in-law and his wife have a home here and are serving on the host committee for the Joffrey Ballet spring fundraiser April 21.
DeVos also has a strong Cubs connection.
Her family has a stake in the team, having invested a few years ago. DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of multi-level marketing company Amway. His father is Richard DeVos, the billionaire co-founder of the company.
Betsy DeVos’ brother-in-law is Dan DeVos. His wife is fashion designer Pamella Roland, who serves on Joffrey Ballet’s board of directors.
No word on whether Betsy will be attending the gala or a game.
Read more Taking Names at shiakapos.com.