Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Real Estate Research Corporation
Real Estate Research Corporation

Real Estate Research Corporation

Chicago's Real Estate Research Corporation (RERC) was one of the nation's first research and consulting firms for analyzing the real-estate market. Founded in 1931 by James Downs it published a market newsletter for developers from 1938. RERC grew substantially after 1950, peaking with a staff of about 200. First Chicago Corporation bought the firm in 1970.

While much of RERC's work has involved land appraisals for the private development of projects such as shopping centers, hotels, and industrial parks, the firm has also reported on broad trends in urban renewal and development. Private clients have included developers and groups like the State Street Council and the Chicago Central Area Committee; government clients have included city, county, state, and federal agencies.

RERC's founder, Downs, was well connected with Chicago Democratic politicians and served as an important bridge between them and business interests. As the city's housing and redevelopment coordinator under mayors Martin H. Kennelly and Richard J. Daley, Downs worked with leading figures such as Holman Pettibone of Chicago Title and Trust to develop state and city agencies to aid housing and urban development. He also served as liaison between the city and the University of Chicago during Hyde Park's urban renewal in the 1940s, a project that foreshadowed national urban renewal efforts. Anthony Downs, a prominent political scientist at the Brookings Institution, took over as chair of RERC when his father retired in the mid-1970s.

Hirsch, Arnold R. Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940–1960. 1983.
Obituary for James Downs. Chicago Tribune, Sept. 29, 1981.
Who's Who in Chicago and Illinois. 9th ed. 1950.