For second year MBA students whose concentration is real estate, this title from an old Marx Brothers movie hits home, but truly understates the amount of time they spent focusing on this year’s MBAX Project Competition class project.
The 2012 Rocky Mountain Real Estate Challenge (RMREC), coordinated through NAIOP – the national association for commercial real estate development – celebrated its tenth year of university-level project competition on May 2nd at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center Hotel in downtown Denver. NAIOP-Colorado, which oversees the designation of the yearly project, chose the currently vacant and abandoned former greyhound racetrack in Commerce City. Once NAIOP identifies the sponsor and the site, it becomes the designated project for the MBAX Project Competition class at CU Leeds School of Business (as well as the designated project for a similar class at the Daniels School of Business at DU). The students at CU and DU then spend the entire semester creating a business case and specific development plan for the site. Students work in 4-6 person teams, each team coming up with their own unique plan for the project. At the end of the semester, both CU and DU select the best plan from their respective school teams, and those two winning teams “face off” at the RMREC in front of 650 industry professionals from around the Front Range area.
Considering all this, do you still think you want to be in real estate?? If you ask any of this year’s (or past year’s) participants in the competition, the resounding answer would be “YES”! It is seldom that a class can so readily immerse a student in to a relevant project, where issues are real, and for which they are expected to provide credible and defensible answers. It is also a rare opportunity to work with professionals, face-to-face, and gain a sense of the complexities, intricacies and subtleties of such a high profile industry. Without fail, the students in the competition class claim that it is one of the best, if not the best, class experience they have had during their academic careers.
For this year’s CU winning team – dubbed “Buff One Development”, consisting of Blake Ottersberg, Tyler Field, John Bauknight, Matt Ferguson and Craig Townsend – all the blood, sweat and tears culminated in a CU victory over DU at this year’s gala event. The team proposed a phased, multi-faceted plan incorporating a mix of uses (residential, retail, educational and open space) that was both financially feasible and addressed all the key parameters set forth by the Commerce City URA in its formal RFP (Request For Proposal).
Coupled with a national win by classmates Chad Murphy and Alex Atherton at the prestigious ULI/Hines competition earlier in the semester, the 2012 CU Leeds MBA real estate graduates had a banner year. We hope it foreshadows similar success for future classes, and know that it helps vault CU’s MBA program in to the ranks of the top business schools for real estate in the country.