Jake Christensen, a northern Iowa farm kid who moved to Des Moines to date the woman he would eventually wed and stuck around long enough to become one of the most prominent names in the local development scene, is the 2018 Business Record Commercial Real Estate Professional of the Year.

In 2003, when he launched Christensen Development, Christensen was one of the few people kicking around City Hall with an interest in breathing new life into downtown. He has been part of a rising tide of development, dramatic rehabs of overlooked spaces and intriguing historical renovations since that time.

Before starting the development company, Christensen was an associate with the former Grubb & Ellis brokerage and counts veteran broker Kermit Marsh as his mentor.

He has found inspiration in the early urban renewal efforts of Jodi Beavers and Leslie Gearhart, who managed to save the Arlington and Hallett apartment buildings at 13th and Locust streets from the wrecking ball in the late 1990s. It is interesting to note that their cause was supported by businessmen Bill Knapp and Jim Cownie. In recent years, Christensen has been part of a development team created around Cownie's JSC Properties and focused primarily on projects in the East Village.

Of late, Christensen has created buzz — some flattering, some not so flattering — with a proposal to team up with global entertainment company Live Nation to convert the Argonne Armory building near Des Moines City Hall into a music venue.

The Business Record will take a more in-depth look at Christensen’s achievements in its April 27issue.

The Commercial Real Estate Professional of the Year Award will be presented during the Business Record Commercial Real Estate Forum April 25 at Curate East Village. Meanwhile, a scant 25 tickets remain available for the event. Register at businessrecord.com/events.