Steve Fifield, chairman and chief executive of Chicago-based Fifield Cos., isn't afraid to take big risks. During a 30-year career in real estate, Fifield has developed more than 50 high-rise office and apartment buildings nationwide. The son of a homebuilder from northwest Indiana, Fifield suffered a spectacular flameout in Chicago in the early 1990s, when he had to give back to his lenders nine office buildings worth an estimated $800 million. Several years later, he earned the nickname "Comeback Kid" when he redeveloped Chicago's Civic Opera Building. He also led a resurgence of the Windy City's downtrodden Western Loop. In the past decade, Fifield has switched direction again, moving from office properties to luxury apartments and condominiums. Last year, he made a radical career move, moving his wife, Randy, five children (he has two additional children from a previous marriage) and a 170-pound Newfoundland dog from Chicago to Brentwood. The reason? To be closer to the half-dozen properties he's developing in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Hawaii, all part of the company's West Coast expansion. The firm is the lead developer of the Californian, a high-rise ultra-luxury condominium on Wilshire Boulevard, where a 5,000-square foot unit sells for $8 million. He's also part of the team developing the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Comstock Avenue, known to locals as the Pumpkin Patch, where a proposed 21-story, 35-unit building will overlook the Los Angeles Country Club.


Question: Why did you uproot your family and move to Los Angeles from Chicago?


Answer: We have deep roots in Chicago and I miss our friends there, but it's really been so pleasant to come here and meet so many creative people. I think Los Angeles is a little like Geneva, Switzerland, in that it's a place that people chose to go to. Geneva doesn't have a lot of manufacturing it's more of a white-collar services industry. And we've found that in Los Angeles, all these people come from New York, the Midwest and Florida, because they want to live here they didn't get transferred here for their jobs. When we first came and had to establish our network of people pediatricians, an internist, dentist you meet these people and you realize that creative people in finance and the arts really only go two places, Los Angeles or New York.

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