Building blocks: Attorney displays a passion for real estate development

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

With a father involved in real estate development, Chris Haboian grew up around real estate.

“We’d always have to stop at buildings and sites on the way to hockey games or golf rounds for my dad to check up on things,” he says. “I ended up loving a few real estate classes in law school and got lucky when I landed my first job with The Cordish Companies in Baltimore.”

Haboian’s three years as an associate corporate counsel with Cordish were “an incredible deal-making experience,” he says, and provided opportunities to work on fascinating projects, including international casinos and large urban developments, as well as with professional sports teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.

“I think Baltimore is a great city with fun and historic neighborhoods,” he says.

A project in Detroit with The Cordish Companies sparked Haboian’s desire to return home to his roots in the Motor City area.

“I was staying in downtown hotels I had never been in, and going to new restaurants and bars I had never seen or heard of—it was then I started to realize something big was happening in Detroit and I wanted to be a part of it,” he says.

He joined the Southfield office of Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer, & Weiss PC in March, where he is a member of the Real Estate Practice Group, focusing on commercial, industrial, retail and residential real estate to private
and institutional developers, builders, management companies, real estate brokers, and individuals.

“It’s been really exciting so far since being back,” he says. “I get to work with my dad, who works at REDICO Management in Southfield, so that’s been an incredible and unique experience as well.”

Haboian’s career path started with an undergrad degree in business enterprise management from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. The choice of major was a no-brainer.

“I grew up in a family where the older generations were very business-oriented – my grandfather started several of his own businesses, my dad is in real estate, and older cousins started or took over businesses of their own – so studying business always felt like a natural fit,” he says.

A study abroad program at Temple University in Tokyo was not only a memorable experience but also gave him a working knowledge of Japanese.

“I loved the endless supply of weird foods to try that I had never even seen before, especially at the Tsukiji Fish Market,” he says. “Other highlights have to be the all-night karaoke or climbing Mt. Fuji.”

He then set his sights on studying law, another natural fit.

“I was a good reader and writer with a penchant for getting into arguments,” he says. “When it came to my career, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I figured law school would open a lot of doors. I guess it helped me kick the can of life down the road.”

While earning his juris doctor from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, he served as president of the Entertainment & Sports Law Society, worked as a bankruptcy research assistant to a professor, and was a member of the Moot Court Board.

“The best part about being on the Moot Court team, without question, was the sports law competition in New Orleans,” he recalls. “My team argued issues like paying college athletes in an antitrust context and first amendment implications of using players’ likeness in video games without consent. Plus, our downtime allowed us to explore the city and cuisine, which was fantastic.”

He also spent six months as a legal analyst at Mosaic Collateral Asset Management in Charlottesville, Va., and was a summer intern for the House Committee on Financial Services at the House of Representatives in D.C., where highlights including meeting John Boehner, and covering the Bernie Madoff case.

Haboian, who grew up in the Bloomfield/Birmingham area and is a graduate of Detroit Country Day School, now makes his home in Royal Oak. In his leisure time, he enjoys golf, hockey, Cross-fit, hiking trails abroad, and murder-mystery podcasts.

A former assistant coach of the Baltimore Stars youth hockey team—as he puts it, “a ragtag group of squirt hockey players”—he is looking forward to getting involved in coaching youth hockey in the Greater Detroit area.

“Being around 9-10-year-olds twice a week is a great break from real estate and lawyers – they just want to have fun and score a few goals,” he says.