Offering a client-centric experience has always guided everything we do at Opus, and that commitment to clients differentiates us within the commercial real estate industry. Our expert developers are passionate about helping clients achieve their visions with properties and buildings that support their goals financially, functionally and aesthetically. One of those expert developers is Stephanie Chitwood.
Stephanie is the director of real estate development for Opus Development Company, L.L.C., in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. She works primarily on industrial pursuits and has a strong background in multifamily, senior living and assisted living. In addition to finding sites for our clients and executing deals by working closely with land sellers, cities and municipalities, she coordinates design, construction, marketing and lease-up of speculative projects. Integral to her role is negotiation, which requires experience and relationship building. Stephanie is a master at both.
Joining Team Opus
Stephanie joined our team in 2016 and has 20 years of experience in commercial real estate. Prior to Opus, she worked at a boutique real estate investment firm in Indianapolis and focused almost exclusively on multifamily, senior living and assisted living pursuits. With a degree in real estate finance from Indiana University, she wore many hats over those 13 years, handling equity and debt placements, underwriting, asset management and development – preparing her for her role at Opus.
“That experience gave me the ability to look at deals from every perspective," said Chitwood. “So in addition to hunting and finding the right properties for clients, I structure deals by evaluating them from the investor side, the debt side and underwriting."
From Multifamily to Industrial
Having spent many years in multifamily, one of the reasons Stephanie pursued the position at Opus was to gain industrial commercial real estate experience and build that pipeline in the market.
“In addition to learning the industrial side of the business, I came to Opus because it was Opus," said Stephanie. “Opus is a very well-respected firm in the industry, with a strong leadership team. Many have tenures with the company of 15 – 20 plus years. That's almost unheard of in the real estate industry and says a lot about a firm."
When comparing multifamily to industrial, Stephanie says a key differentiation is speed to market. Most industrial clients are looking for a property yesterday, so time is of the essence and construction schedules are often less than 12 months.
“Industrial has been an exciting new challenge for me, and I equate it to a chess game," said Stephanie. “You need to know where your competition is moving two steps before they make the move. Multifamily has longer timelines, so it can be more methodical, although it is inherently more complex."
Real estate has always interested Stephanie, but the path to her current career was not a linear one. While in college getting her real estate finance degree, she worked for a residential RE/MAX broker and got her real estate license prior to graduating. She sold residential real estate for a short period of time before landing in a small multifamily real estate mortgage company, which laid the groundwork for the rest of her career.
“It's fascinating to me how commercial real estate can play a role in shaping cultures, history, cities and communities, like
75 Logistics Center in Middletown," she said.
Middletown is a community of 50,000 people about 32 miles north of Cincinnati, Ohio. With deep roots as a Midwestern steel town, industrial employment fell off in the 1980s and 1990s, leaving many residents without work. From an economic standpoint, the city of Middletown is working hard to turn the city around and bring jobs back to the area. In Middletown, we are developing, designing and constructing a speculative industrial warehouse that is estimated to bring 150 jobs to the city.
“Every piece of land and every building has a story," said Stephanie. “As developers, we help write those stories by delivering the right products, to the right clients, at the right time."
In addition to her role at Opus, Stephanie sits on the steering committee for Indiana Urban Land Institute's Women's Leadership Initiative, and participates as a “seasoned pro" in the organization's Mentorship Program. She's also a member of Indy CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) and participates in the UCREW program for students interested in careers in commercial real estate. On the philanthropic side, Stephanie sat on the board of Partnership for Affordable Housing in Indiana for six years, a nonprofit organization that provides programs and affordable housing for low and moderate income residents.
Pictured Above: The 75 Logistics Center project team and community members recently celebrated the groundbreaking of the 613,000-square-foot speculative industrial building. In the first photo, Stephanie is joined by Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan, Jr.; Todd Davis, project manager for Opus Design Build, L.L.C.; Middletown Vice Mayor Talbott Moon and Douglas Swain, vice president & general manager for Opus Development Company, L.L.C.