The Urban Land Institute’s Center for Sustainability is being renamed in honor of Inland Empire real estate developer Randall Lewis to recognize a $10 million donation that will “accelerate our work on climate adaptation and mitigation,” the ULI reported Wednesday, Jan. 26.
Lewis’ gift is the largest single donation in the ULI’s 86-year history, the organization said. The money will “transform the center” by funding efforts to make development more sustainable.
The new name will be the ULI Randall Lewis Center for Sustainability in Real Estate.
The center’s main programs include Greenprint, which seeks to curb global warming and conserve water and energy; the Building Healthy Places Initiative, which works to make health and social equity a component in all development; and the Urban Resilience program, which helps property owners adapt to climate change’s impacts.
Lewis, who’s been a ULI member for 35 years, said those three things really matter to him. The gift allows him to make a personal impact upon one of the world’s most pressing problems by harnessing the expertise of ULI, he said.
“How do you deal with sea level change? How do you deal with forest fires? And how do you make communities resilient?” he said in a phone interview. The donation will help the center address those questions.
“I could change the world on my own, but I would not be very effective,” he added. “I wanted to outsource the work to (people who) … are better at it than I am.”
Lewis, 70, is one of four brothers running a homebuilding and commercial real estate dynasty created by their parents, Ralph and Goldy Lewis. His title is senior executive vice president for marketing at the Upland-based Lewis Group of Companies, one of the Inland Empire’s top development firms.
After selling their homebuilding company for $500 million to Kaufman & Broad in 1999, the family business patterned itself after the Orange County-based Irvine Co. as it developed a portfolio of apartment complexes, shopping centers and business parks.
The Lewis Group currently owns and runs 13,000 apartments and 6 million square feet of investment property, according to its website. Over the years, it built 58,000 homes, developed 24 million square feet of industrial space and more than 24,000 residential lots.
Randall Lewis has also been a long-term philanthropist with several centers named after him, including innovation and entrepreneurship centers at Claremont-McKenna College and at the University of LaVerne, as well as the University of La Verne’s Randall Lewis Center for Well-Being and Research. He made an earlier gift of $1 million to the ULI’s Building Healthy Places Initiative.
Philanthropy is a Lewis family tradition, and the names of their parents are on parks and buildings, including Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall at USC’s Price School of Public Policy.
“It’s in my DNA and my family’s DNA,” Randall Lewis said.
“With this funding, we can tackle the most pressing sustainability challenges in our industry as they arise, helping our members understand the challenges and develop solutions they can apply in their organizations,” said Billy Grayson, a ULI executive vice president who oversees the Center for Sustainability.
ULI Foundation President Janice Periquet called Lewis’ latest donation a “transformational” gift.
“This changes the trajectory of ULI and the Center,” Periquet said.