About First Development Corporation
First Development Corporation (“FDC”) has been in business since 1978 and has been primarily a developer of specialty and convenience shopping centers in the Chicagoland area. FDC developed properties primarily for the personal portfolio of its principal and is compensated on a fee basis. FDC has developed a number of new strip shopping centers formerly anchored by White Hen Pantry, a former Chicago area convenience grocery store that was one of the largest convenience store chains in Chicagoland and bought by 7-Eleven.
FDC has also re-developed in-city street-front specialty retail strips in Chicago’s upscale Lake View neighborhood. We have also acted as a land assembler and re-developer. By example, we purchased key parcels, then assembled adjacent properties to create larger development opportunities, and assisted with whatever municipal approvals and/or re-zoning was required for the parcels. Recent efforts resulted in development of new freestanding Target and Walgreens stores in the Chicago suburbs of Villa Park and Hillside. Our company also assembled a commercial parcel of 4.545 acres fronting on a new exit ramp for the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) in the Chicago suburb of Alsip, Illinois. This property is under contract with a major oil company for a new gas facility and C-store. FDC also embarked upon its first residential lot development and sold 11 fully improved single family home sites. FDC has also purchased and successfully cleaned-up several former gas station sites, which have been developed into convenience retail centers.
James V. Persino is President of FDC and an Illinois licensed real estate broker who owns and is President of Jasper Realty Corporation. Since 1971, he has been actively involved in property management, lease negotiations, brokerage and development. He has completed millions of dollars in transactions with such clients as Payless ShoeSource, Radio Shack Corporation, Bedding Experts, New York Life Insurance Company, Moore Business Forms, General American Life Insurance Company, White Hen Pantry, Baskin-Robbins, Caribou Coffee, FlatTop Grill, Ultimate Exposure, H&R Block, Great Clips and Einstein’s Noah Bagels. He is also past president and founding member of the Chicagoland Association of Shopping Center Owners (CASCO), which represents many Chicago area strip shopping center owners. He is twice past president of the Building Owners and Manager’s Association (BOMA) of Suburban Chicago. Mr. Persino is also a member of (ICSC) which now stands for Innovating Commerce Serving Communities (formally International Council of Shopping Centers). He’s a former member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Northern Illinois Commercial Association of Realtors (NICAR) and was, for 23 years, chairman of the Economic Development Commission of the Village of Lincolnwood, a suburb north of Chicago.
Angela Ortega has been with the company since 1986 and is our property manager and administrative assistant. She handles all accounts payable/receivable, monthly and annual property reports, tenant and lender relations, available properties information including maintaining multiple listing updates, in addition to clerical duties. Her duties also include occasional property showings to prospective tenants on behalf of the owner, and periodic property inspections. Angela oversees our custodians’ duties to be sure all maintenance work is performed to our high standards and that of our fine tenants. Ms. Ortega is our liaison with our property maintenance contractors such as snow plowers, roofers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC companies and suppliers. She also interacts with our insurance agent, attorneys, accountants, environmental consultants, architects, engineers and other professionals.
Walter Daniels was a founding member of First Development Corporation (FDC). Walter was and always will be an inspiration and an essential element to our success. Walter and Jim were 50/50 owners of FDC and all the properties they developed through their almost 40 year partnership and friendship. In 1968 Walter founded and owned Walter Daniels Construction Co., Inc., (WDCCI) a commercial general contractor, which is still in operation. WDCCI built and/or remodeled all the commercial properties developed by FDC. Walter’s input on construction and design details for each project was indispensable. His mentorship in the construction arena was crucial to the success of FDC. Sadly, Walter passed on May 9, 2015 at the age of 86. Walter was a true renaissance man with many interests who appreciated quality, loyalty, honesty and integrity in both his personal and business lives. He was an avid golfer and snow skier for many years and our corporate annual meetings were often held on the slopes in Colorado. However, what is most missed is Walter’s presence in our lives – our daily chats, end of day visits in each others’ offices, our frequent lunches and our occasional cigars and Scotch at the end of the day. His kind heart and genuine demeanor along with his sharp business sense will forever be engrained in our daily lives. Walter is sorely missed, but his legacy remains.