Chairman & CEOChristopher Merrill
Mr. Merrill is the Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Harrison Street, a real assets investment management firm he co-founded in 2005 that has completed nearly $64.7 billion in transactional volume and as of 4Q 2022 has over $55 billion in AUM.
Mr. Merrill is currently the largest individual shareholder and serves as Chairman of the Board and the Investment and Executive Committees of the Firm. The Firm was a first mover and innovator of a focused investment strategy around the Education, Healthcare, Life Sciences and Storage segments of the real estate market (launching nine closed-end funds as well as industry leading open-end funds). Over 561 investors ($28 billion since inception) participate in Harrison Street funds including U.S., European and Asian pension funds, corporate plans, insurance companies, endowments, foundations and family offices. The Firm is headquartered in Chicago with offices in San Francisco, Washington DC, London, Tokyo and Toronto.
Prior to co-founding Harrison Street, Mr. Merrill was a partner, owner and Managing Director of a large U.S. Pension Fund Advisory firm where he developed the firm’s presence in Europe, creating the first ever real estate funds exclusively targeting the markets of Central Europe. This initial fund was one of the Top 10 performing global funds during vintage years 1996-2000 as noted by Preqin.
Mr. Merrill has appeared on television and in numerous real estate journals, as well as in speaking engagements regarding real asset investing. In March 2020, Private Equity Real Estate (“PERE”) awarded Harrison Street Alternatives Investor of the Year: Global; Alternatives Investor of the Year: North America; Firm of the Year: UK; and Residential Investor of the Year: Europe, each for the year 2019. In March 2021, PERE awarded Harrison Street Alternatives Investor of the Year: North America; and Capital Raise of the Year: North America, each for the year 2020. In March 2023, PERE awarded Harrison Street Alternatives Investor of the Year: Global; Residential Investor of the Year: Global; Data Centers Investor of the Year: Global; and Residential Firm of the Year: North America, each for the year 2022. In 2009, Mr. Merrill was included as one of “Crain’s 40 under 40.” In March 2011, National Real Estate Investor Magazine named Mr. Merrill as one of the “10 To Watch” leaders in the industry. In December 2012, Real Estate Forum named Mr. Merrill as one of “Chicago’s Real Estate Icons.” In March 2014, PERE named Mr. Merrill as one of the top real estate executives in North America for the year 2013. In March 2019, PERE awarded Mr. Merrill second in Industry Figure of the Year: North America for the year 2018. In March 2023, PERE awarded Mr. Merrill Industry Figure of the Year: Global for the year 2022. No direct or indirect compensation was provided by Harrison Street or Mr. Merrill in connection with obtaining or using the above-referenced awards.
Mr. Merrill is a member of YPO, Economic Club of Chicago, and Chicago Commonwealth Club. He serves on the board of the Pension Real Estate Association (“PREA”), Rush University Medical Board (Facilities Committee), the real estate advisory boards of Gore Creek and Kinship Capital, The First Tee of Greater Chicago, Salisbury School, and Chicago Botanic Garden (Financial Committee). He is also an active angel investor in many early-stage companies. Mr. Merrill earned his MBA from the CASS School of Business in London, England.