The three campuses of the UI sprawl across more than 2,400 acres. In addition, the university owns another 10,500 acres, which include Willard Airport, timber reserves and natural areas. Daniel Crawmer is one of two associate directors in the Office of Real Estate Planning and Services responsible for the purchasing, selling, appraising and leasing of properties for the Urbana campus and the university. Crawmer, who describes himself facetiously as a “real-estate geek,” is one of 6,000 people in the United States who have met the qualifications required to become a member of the Appraisal Institute. His interest in the real-estate industry was kindled at an early age when he began helping his father, Bill Crawmer, a real-estate developer in Peoria, by mowing lots and placing signs. Crawmer, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts from Beloit College and a master of business administration degree from Arizona State University, joined the university’s staff in 2001. He also earned a certified property manager designation from the Institute of Real Estate Management.
Tell me about your department.
The department is made up of three people: Dennis McConaha, our secretary Cheryl Coad, and me. Dennis and I are both associate directors with more than 30 years of experience as real-estate brokers.
REPS provides real-estate support to the campus and the university. We facilitate the leasing of office space in Champaign-Urbana for different departments. We help negotiate the lease terms, write the leases and manage the renewal process. We also help negotiate and write utility licenses and easements. Our department is also on the front line of property and land acquisitions, helping negotiate purchase prices, and when needed, helping to manage eminent-domain proceedings. The university is a state agency; consequently any property within its master plan area can be purchased through the right of eminent domain.
REPS also does some asset management. REPS works very closely with university legal counsel, the associate director of space management, and Facilities Planning and Programs. Because we’re stewards of state funds, we take our time, work hand in hand with other departments and perform the correct amount of due diligence.
Before I came to the university, I was mostly involved with property management, purchases of commercial real estate and commercial real-estate appraisal. All of these activities helped prepare me for my position at the university.
What are some of the projects you’re working on right now?
The Urbana campus is in the process of purchasing another 2,500 acres between Windsor Road and Airport Road for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Many of ACES’ research facilities will be moved to this area. This is a long-term project. I’m also helping with other land acquisitions, negotiating and writing leases and utility licenses. Dennis McConaha is working separately on various other projects.
What did getting your designations require?
The certified property manager designation required 10 years of actual property management experience, passing four weeklong classes and writing a property master-plan report, which was a couple of hundred pages long. To become a member of the Appraisal Institute (MAI designation) required passing 12 one-week classes; writing a demonstration appraisal, which was more than 300 pages long; passing a two-day, four-part comprehensive exam; and 3,000 hours of specialized report-writing experience. Most people take eight to 10 years to do all that; it took me six years, and that was considered fast.
What are your interests outside of work?
My outside interests include church, Rotary and professional organizations. I’ve been a trustee at Holy Cross Parish for 12 years. I’m a past president of Champaign West Rotary, and I’m president of the Central Illinois Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management. I enjoy reading and spending time with my family, including my three grandchildren. My wife, Kathy, and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this month. I also spend a lot of time working around our house, which was built in 1913. Kathy and I have replaced or redone just about everything during the 22 years we’ve lived there, including the kitchen, the hardwood floors, the landscaping, the roof and the garage.