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School of Business Joins School of Architecture in Regional Real Estate Competition

April 20, 2012
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What would be the best commercial use for a 32-acre tract of undeveloped land in Sunrise, Fla.? And what would it take to make the project successful? Those were some of the questions posed to students, including MBAs from the School of Business, who competed this month in the second annual Collegiate Real Estate Challenge sponsored by the South Florida Chapter of NAIOP, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.

The competition, hosted by the University of Miami, was held at UM’s Life Science & Technology Park, located in downtown Miami. School of Business students and alumni competed as part of the University of Miami team. Benjamin Elias (MBA’11), Jason Bazarsky, a fourth year JD/MBA student, and Parvin Faghihinejad, a second year MBA student, worked alongside fellow UM students from the University's Master in Real Estate Development and Urbanism (MRED+U) program - a partnership between the Schools of Business, Architecture and Law – to compete against graduate students from Nova Southeastern University and Florida International University. The MRED+U students included Noelle McCutcheon, Molly Parnes, Ilana Rothman, Ivor Nikolas Massey, and Annie Weizenecker.

Sponsored by Stiles Corporation, the competition, which was co-chaired by Eric D. Swanson and Rafael Romero of Flagler and Bruce Retzsch of RLC Architects, PA, provided students an opportunity to interact with local real estate executives and showcase their development expertise. The three teams presented strategies for developing the land controlled by Stiles, which included the proposed project's economic feasibility, market analysis and design viability to a panel of 10 judges – all leaders in the South Florida real estate industry.

Nova Southeastern University took home the top prize for its proposal, “The West Village,” a residential and retail urban town center that would be developed primarily for young families. The University of Miami’s proposal, “City Gardens at Westerra,” a residential development, focused on the environment and “green” living. FIU’s proposal catered to a different generation, suggesting a senior living facility, “Villa Argento.”

From left to right: Jason Bazarsky, Parvin Faghihinejad, Molly Parnes, Noelle McCutcheon, Steven McCraney, South Florida NAIOP president, Ilana Rothman, finance professor Andrea Heuson, Annie Weizenecker, and Ivor Nikolas Massey.

“Integrating theory and practice maximizes the learning experience and nothing complements the visions students create in a classroom like the view they get from actually walking a site and getting sand in their shoes,” said Andrea Heuson, one of the School’s professors of finance, who helped students prepare for the competition.

The competition is among a number of real estate initiatives the School has championed as it builds and expands programs in the real estate sector. The School, along with the School of Architecture, recently organized the University of Miami’s first Real Estate Impact Conference, which brought together some 300 professionals to discuss the reshaping of urban spaces through global capital and ingenuity. The conference, held in February, was headlined by industry giant Sam Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments and Jorge M. Perez, chairman of Florida-based developer The Related Group.

In addition to the MRED+U, the School offers a Bachelor of Architecture/MBA (BArch/MBA) program in partnership with the School of Architecture, an MBA concentration in real estate, and an undergraduate real estate major. And this summer, the School launches a new Accelerated MBA Program with a concentration in real estate.

The School has a Real Estate Programs Advisory Board, made up of industry leaders throughout South Florida and the U.S., which advises the School on the development of its real estate curriculum.

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