Developer gives record $10 million to ULI for sustainability studies

Randall Lewis, family has been major force in Inland Empire’s growth over decades

Randall Lewis, executive vice president of The Lewis Group of Companies (ULI Foundation, iStock)
Randall Lewis, executive vice president of The Lewis Group of Companies (ULI Foundation, iStock)

Inland Empire developer and philanthropist Randall Lewis has given $10 million to a Washington, D.C., think tank to study sustainable real estate development.

Lewis, executive vice president for the Upland-based Lewis Group of Companies, gave the record donation to the Urban Land Institute’s Center for Sustainability, since renamed the ULI Randall Lewis Center for Sustainability in Real Estate, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

His gift was the largest since the Urban Land Institute was founded in 1936. The ULI launched its Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance in 2014.

“With this funding, we can tackle the most pressing sustainability challenges in our industry as they arise,” said Billy Grayson, a ULI executive vice president who oversees the Center for Sustainability.

Center programs include Greenpoint, which aims to roll back global warming and conserve water and energy. Its Urban Resilience helps property owners adapt to the impacts of climate change. Its Building Health Places works to integrate health and social equity into development. Its 10-Minute-Walk aims to plant a park within strolling distance of every home.

Lewis, a ULI member for 35 years, said the gift allows him to make a larger impact by supporting the center’s expertise.
“How do you deal with sea-level change? How do you deal with forest fires? And how do you make communities resilient?” he told the Sun. “I could change the world on my own, but I would not be very effective. I wanted to outsource the work to (people who) … are better at it than I am.”

Lewis is an heir to a homebuilding and commercial real estate dynasty created by Ralph and Goldy Lewis, who over the years built 58,000 homes, developed 24 million square feet of industrial space and more than 24,000 residential lots.

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After he and his three brothers sold the building segment to Kaufman & Broad in 1999 for close to $500 million, their Lewis Group of Companies amassed a portfolio of apartments, shopping centers and business parks.

The Lewis Group now owns and manages 13,000 apartments and 6 million square feet of investment property, according to its website.

Lewis is also heir to a Lewis family philanthropic tradition. The names of his parents are etched on parks and buildings, including Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall at USC’s Price School of Public Policy and the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

“It’s in my DNA and my family’s DNA,” said Randall Lewis, 70.
The long-term philanthropist has other centers named after him, including innovation and entrepreneurship centers at Claremont-McKenna College and at the University of LaVerne, plus the University of La Verne’s Randall Lewis Center for Well-Being and Research. He also gave $1 million to ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative.

In 2019, his billionaire brother Richard Lewis bought one of the most expensive condominiums ever sold in Los Angeles, for $21 million. 

[SBS] – Dana Bartholomew

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