“It’s an honor to be recognized in multiple categories at this year’s Innovator Awards. We were humbled to have the opportunity to share the stage with other leaders in our industry and to celebrate a few of the many success stories from the past year, “ said Casey Petersen, Chief Operating Officer at PeakMade Real Estate. “We are incredibly grateful to have outstanding teams and partners involved in University Center and The Overlook at St. Gabriel’s, and are very proud of all that they have accomplished.”

The Best Renovation of An Existing Project category was awarded to University Center in Chicago, IL.

University Center (“UC”) is a 1,732-bed high-rise mixed-use community, employing over 175+ employees throughout the year, that serves the students of numerous colleges and universities in downtown Chicago. UC embarked on a full property renovation in 2018-2020 to update unit interiors, modernize the property, and add additional resident services and amenities.  This 8-million-dollar renovations project increased occupancy by 7% over two years and allowed UC to outpace its competitor submarkets.

From design to execution, the teams from BKV, Wainwright, Schoenfelder, and Peak ensured the renovation kept students top of mind. Modernizing the outdated finishes was important but the renovation overall took on a theme of understanding student’s needs and use of space that resulted in the creation of over 15 new and unique amenity spaces to best fit our diverse clientele,” said Brooke Lopeman, Executive Director at University Center. “While I am proud of the results of the renovation itself, I am most grateful for the team at University Center that made this monumental work possible – it was truly a team effort.”

The Best Vendor/Operator Solution category was also awarded to University Center in partnership with student housing vendor, StarRez.

StarRez fundamentally changed how University Center operates and interacts with residents and clients, increasing efficiency while enhancing satisfaction. Overall, the integration of StarRez’s software allowed the property to save over $30,000 annually, eliminate and re-purpose over $100,000 in staff salaries, increase resident programming attendance by 38%+, reduce paper usage by 40%, eliminate 40+ hours of labor-intensive data entry, and streamline employee onboarding and training.

“We are really proud of our partnership with University Center/PeakMade Real Estate. They have an outstanding team and residential community but needed a technology platform that could help them enhance the operational efficiencies whilst improving the resident and guest experiences,” said Travis Knipe, Chief Operating Officer at StarRez. “Now they are truly leading the way with technology best practices that help them have a thriving team and community.”

The Best in Architecture and Design category was awarded to The Overlook at St. Gabriel’s for its immaculate restoration of the historic St. Gabriel’s Church and Monastery and surrounding new construction of a 555-unit apartment community to serve Boston area graduate students and young professionals.  Located in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood The Overlook was developed in partnership with PeakMade Real Estate, Blue Vista Capital Management, and Cabot, Cabot, and Forbes.

The Overlook continues to receive awards for its innovative approach to the adaptive reuse of a historic landmark, transforming the Church into an epic 20,000+ square foot amenity space.  The Overlook has also received the 2021 Mayor Thomas M. Menino Legacy Award for its transformative impact on the local community, and the Boston Preservation Alliance Award that honors the historic preservation efforts used in the project.

“The Overlook at St. Gabriel’s is a once-in-a-lifetime development opportunity that includes a monumental restoration and transformation of a once neglected site into a lively destination with many community benefits, significant green space, ample amenities and convenience,” said Jeff Githens, President of Development at PeakMade Real Estate. “This effort has resulted in incredible demand from both student and non-student residents and leasing velocity that has far exceeded our expectations.  We are honored to have The Overlook recognized with this award.”


PeakMade Real Estate, based in Atlanta, GA, is a diversified real estate development and property management company, operating multiple brands for management, development, and advisory services for conventional multifamily and student apartments. PeakMade Real Estate provides support and infrastructure to its subsidiary companies, Peak Campus, a leading private developer and operator of student housing apartments, and PeakMade Communities, a boutique conventional multifamily development and management company.


Blue Vista is a Chicago-based leading real estate investment management firm dedicated to developing long-term relationships, serving investor interests, and delivering consistent performance through a rigorous academic and research-driven investment process. Blue Vista’s platform offers a national footprint in the U.S. and Canada, local operating expertise, and best-in-class investment strategies focused exclusively on student housing, middle market real estate and lending.


Founded in 1904, CC&F is one of the oldest real estate firms in the nation, having developed more than 100 million SF throughout the United States. Over its history, CC&F has been responsible for the planning and construction of prominent Boston and Cambridge landmarks such as One Boston Place, 28 State St., 100 Summer St., 60 State St. and 55 Cambridge Pkwy. Today, CC&F is a leader in transit-oriented-developments and building for Boston’s innovation workforce.


Founded in 1992, StarRez is the world leader in housing, conference, and judicial software with more than 300 customers worldwide. StarRez offers the most complete, easy-to-use, and fully integrated solution for student accommodation providers both small and large. StarRez is a comprehensive student housing solution including: online housing applications, online roommate and room self-selection, core staff administrative functions such as billing, reporting, email, and mail merge, as well as, complete integration with other campus systems.



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