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CHICAGO-When it comes to development here, discussions often end up at city hall. In charge of keeping a finger on the pulse of development, from the Central Business District to the neighborhoods, is department of planning and development commissioner Alicia Berg.

One of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s top lieutenants, she will be the keynote speaker Thursday morning to kick off RealShare Chicago at the Hyatt Regency. The event, produced by Real Estate Media, Inc., is expected to draw more than 400 commercial real estate practitioners to a daylong program.

Berg’s keynote address precedes a town hall meeting of six high level real estate executives who will debate whether there are better times ahead for the Chicago area market. On the dais will be First Industrial Realty Trust CEO Michael Brennan, Fifield Cos. president and CEO Steven Fifield, Marcus & Millichap president and CEO Harvey Green, LaSalle Bank EVP Breck Hanson, The Enterprise Cos. principal Ron Shipka and Jones Lang LaSalle managing director Stephen Smith.

Concurrent sessions will focus on the office and industrial sectors, sublease negotiations, as well as whether irrational exuberance has hit the office investment market. Equity Office Properties Trust boss Samuel Zell may touch on some of those topics during a 40-minute sit-down with Real Estate Media editor-in-chief Michael Desiato.

Before lunch, additional concurrent sessions will see corporate real estate executives hold court and a discussion of the capital markets.

While the pipeline of development proposals has shrunk in recent months, Berg’s 220-member staff remains busy with such major projects as the first rewrite of the city’s zoning ordinance in 46 years. Before replacing Grubb & Ellis SVP Christopher Hill in January 2001, Berg was deputy commissioner in charge of the Downtown area. She has since played a key role in talks involving Block 37, a long-vacant parcel at 108 N. State St. the city hopes will become a mixed-use development.

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