Doris and Ted Lee: Fostering the Future of Urban Redevelopment

Inspired by his father’s success in property investment, Ted Lee (Boalt JD ’59, Haas MBA ’66) was fairly certain that real estate was the right path to pursue. Nearly four decades later, Ted and his wife, Doris Shoong Lee, have clearly proven the wisdom of that choice.

Shortly after graduating from Harvard University and earning a J.D. and MBA from UC Berkeley, Ted Lee worked as an advisor on urban redevelopment projects for various minority communities in California. His efforts resulted in projects such as San Francisco’s Japantown and Jones Memorial Homes, Sacramento’s Chinatown, and the Filipino Center in Stockton.

Seeing the advantages and potential of being more directly involved in development, in 1972 Ted and Doris founded the Urban Land Company, a privately-held real estate investment and development firm in San Francisco and Las Vegas. The Lees’ portfolio now comprises a substantial and diverse range of properties, from casinos and hotels, to apartments and warehouses. The Urban Land Company remains family-run and is currently actively managed by Doris along with their two sons.

The Lees have been munificent community supporters and contributors to numerous projects in education and the arts. They have made major gifts to Harvard University, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and the Smith Center. Ted and Doris established the first endowed professorship at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law in 2011 and most recently have been recognized for their generous donation of $15 million to the UNLV College of Business, which has been renamed the UNLV Lee Business School.

Paul Sedway, Doris Lee, and Ted Lee
At CED 50th Anniversary Gala — Paul Sedway (’60) with Doris Lee and Ted Lee (’66). (Photo: Adrianne Koteen) Enlarge [+]

UC Berkeley has also benefitted tremendously from the Lees’ participation and support. Ted Lee was a Berkeley Fellow and served on the UC Berkeley Foundation and other committees. Doris currently serves as a Trustee of the UC Berkeley Foundation. In support of innovative programming at UC Berkeley, the Lees sponsored a series of major conferences on urban sustainability in 2012. Also that year, the Berkeley-Haas Las Vegas Chapter of the Haas Alumni Network recognized Ted Lee as the 2012 Alumnus of the Year. He has also previously received the Wheeler Oak Meritorious Award.

In 2009, Ted and Doris Lee endowed the Theodore B. and Doris Shoong Lee Distinguished Professorship in Real Estate Law and Urban Planning, to foster interdisciplinary collaboration between CED and Berkeley Law. The principal goal of the Professorship is to support the work of a distinguished Visiting Professor who is a practitioner to teach one graduate course per year with a focus on the intersection of real estate, urban planning, and land use/environmental law. The role includes advising students on research topics related to urban real estate, land use, or planning law, such as urban housing, zoning, finance, community development, or environmental impacts.

The 2013 Lee Chair was awarded to Paula Daniels. Daniels, an attorney who has been actively involved in California planning policy issues for over 20 years, was Senior Advisor to the Mayor of Los Angeles on Food Policy and Special Projects in Water, an LA City Public Works Commissioner, and Chair of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. She has also served as a California Coastal Commissioner and on the governing board of the California Bay-Delta Authority.

The Lee Professorship was held by Cecilia Estolano in 2010 and again in 2011. A lawyer and expert in sustainable economic development and urban revitalization, Estolano was Of Counsel in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher where she focused on matters including land use, zoning, redevelopment and real estate. She also served as CEO of the Los Angeles Redevelopment Agency, was a Special Assistant Los Angeles City Attorney, and a Senior Policy Advisor with the U.S. EPA. She currently is a member of Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors LLC.

The interdisciplinary learning opportunities provided by the Theodore B. and Doris Shoong Lee Distinguished Professorship ignite new ways of thinking necessary to address the complex urban development issues of today. The generous support of the Lees, through their endowment and through their active participation in the life of the College of Environmental Design, will continue to help us achieve our ambitious goals for many years to come.