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If Annex Student Living president and CEO Kyle Bach had followed his early dreams, he’d be dressed in scrubs, scalpel in hand, replacing knees and repairing ligaments. While we think he would have made a great doctor, there will be no pain involved as he joins our panel for the Student Housing Real Estate Summit on August 12. (Register today!)

Influenced by doctors in his family, Kyle’s passion was to become an orthopedic surgeon. But the dream met reality while pursuing a degree in physical therapy at IU-Bloomington. “I always thought that’s what I wanted to do, but then I met organic chemistry–twice–and decided that wasn’t for me,” he said. From the age of 10, he played football and hit the mat as a grappler, but his big love was baseball. He turned down a dual, full-scholarship offer from Butler University (football and baseball) and chose IU instead. It was a tough call, but he explained, “I went to a small high school, and I wanted something bigger for college–a Division One experience.”

With college finished, Kyle began applying to graduate programs so he could be licensed and specialize in sports medicine. In the meantime, he returned home and was recruited by his former baseball trainer from high school to help out at a youth training facility. While there, an unexpected networking meeting changed everything–a parent at the training center led Kyle toward his path to real estate.

His first job was with a firm doing site selection and entitlements for retailers, who were deep into projects for CVS in Phoenix. The work kept him hopping on planes weekly, so moving to Phoenix made more sense. As a wildly fanatic Michigan football fan, Kyle had to get creative, dodge time zones, and find a local bar to watch the games. “I’d get there at 10 AM, but I’d always miss the first quarter,” he lamented. But it’s a small world, and Kyle met a fellow Hoosier and Purdue grad who had the same dilemma! His new friend’s mother worked for Starbucks in site selection, and she became his mentor, teaching him about design and construction in retail. “I studied every angle and educated myself, but I didn’t know what section of real estate I wanted to work in,” he said.

Kyle got engaged to his high school sweetheart and moved back to South Bend. He took a job with Mishawaka-based Sterling Group as the developer originator for affordable housing projects. After one got denied in Moline, IL, Kyle pitched his boss about flying solo to see if he could get the project up and running on his own. Kyle optioned the real estate, sold them two months later, and then used the proceeds to start his first company in 2008. He set off for the south, post-Katrina, partnering with local developers to build 1,250 apartment units in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. In 2010, he competed for government funding to launch an affordable senior housing project in Galesburg, IL. He didn’t get the funding, but there was a silver lining: Carl Sandburg Community College president Dr. Lori Sundburg reached out, asking Kyle if he’d ever considered student housing projects. “I didn’t think of Galesburg as a college town, but I met with her, and her concept just blew me away,” he said. He hit the road, visiting smaller institutions across the country and creating the business model he now successfully operates. “Our model is unique–we go places where there is little opportunity for student housing, and we are the economic catalyst to the community, the institution, and the tenants.” he said.

When he was nine, Kyle says he was sure he’d play baseball forever. Although he moved on, he now steps in as coach for his own son’s teams. “I absolutely make time for it, and it’s really rewarding, especially when I see their teammates on the street and they come give me a hug.” If he hadn’t picked real estate, Kyle says he would have been a “really good baseball scout.” He and wife Jill have four kids: eight year-old twins Molly and Maddox (who’s eight minutes younger); Nicholas, 6; and baby Turner, 9 months. Kyle and Jill love to travel (though he hates flying), and they’re headed to Napa next week. Kyle is also counting down days for their Thanksgiving trip to Hawaii to see IU play in the invitational. The family watches movies together on Sundays, and it’s no surprise that sports-themed flicks are a favorite. Although he is extremely proud of his real estate career, Kyle recently watched Clint Eastwood play a sight-challenged scout in The Curve, and admits to still dreaming about that baseball scouting career.

Article originally featured in the Real Estate People Indianapolis newsletter.

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