Real Estate Development


The Real Estate Development team has exceptional skill and expertise in planning and developing restaurant, hotel, retail and office development projects. This team handles over 2 million square feet of real estate in our core holdings, manaing all aspects of real estate – from purchase to entitlement and design to city approval. In house leasing and legal counsel handles all LOI’s, contracts, and negotiations.

Chris Whalen

Chris Whalen - Director of Real Estate

Christopher Whalen joined Heart of America Group in 2015 as Director of Real Estate. Previously he worked for Rouse Company, leading the leasing of regional shopping malls in West Dundee, Illinois and Lansing, Michigan. Before joining Heart of America Group, Chris was a Director/Broker for Interra Realty of Chicago, concentrating on multi-family housing brokerage and retail leasing. Chris received his B.A. in Entrepreneurship and Finance from Drake University in 2011.

Ajay Singh

Ajay Singh - Vice President of Brand Development, Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse

Mr. Singh joined the Company in 2012 as VP – JIS Brand Development and is responsible for the franchise development of our Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse concept. This new area of growth will provide great opportunities for the Company, and will fully develop this great restaurant brand. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Singh worked in the financial services/private banking industry with Wells Fargo Bank and American Bank & Trust from 2005 to 2012. He also worked in sales, operations and manufacturer relations for one of the nation’s largest privately held automotive firms, overseeing their luxury brands from 1991 to 2004. Mr. Singh graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northwood University in 1990, with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Real Estate Development


The Real Estate team has exceptional skill and expertise in planning and developing restaurant, hotel, retail and office development projects. This team handles over 2 million square feet of real estate in our core holdings, manaing all aspects of real estate – from purchase to entitlement and design to city approval. In house leasing and legal counsel handles all LOI’s, contracts, and negotiations. Contact Chris Whalen with all real estate inquiries at (563) 505-3069 or by emailing
[email protected].

Chris Whalen

Chris Whalen - Director of Real Estate

Christopher Whalen joined Heart of America Group in 2015 as Director of Real Estate. Previously he worked for Rouse Company, leading the leasing of regional shopping malls in West Dundee, Illinois and Lansing, Michigan. Before joining Heart of America Group, Chris was a Director/Broker for Interra Realty of Chicago, concentrating on multi-family housing brokerage and retail leasing. Chris received his B.A. in Entrepreneurship and Finance from Drake University in 2011.

Ajay Singh

Ajay Singh - Vice President of Brand Development, Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse

Mr. Singh joined the Company in 2012 as VP – JIS Brand Development and is responsible for the franchise development of our Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse concept. This new area of growth will provide great opportunities for the Company, and will fully develop this great restaurant brand. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Singh worked in the financial services/private banking industry with Wells Fargo Bank and American Bank & Trust from 2005 to 2012. He also worked in sales, operations and manufacturer relations for one of the nation’s largest privately held automotive firms, overseeing their luxury brands from 1991 to 2004. Mr. Singh graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northwood University in 1990, with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Heart of America Group is a consortium of independent companies whose successes are in fields of development, restaurant hospitality, lodging hospitality, franchising, design, architecture, construction, operational management and support, marketing, retail & office centers, residential development, civic involvement and philanthropy. The companies often work together, and draw upon the members’ unique array of expertise, to vision and create cutting-edge world-class projects. The skill and speed with which Heart of America Group’s members can combine and focus their resources is unmatched by any other organization.