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For the third consecutive year, Columbia Business School placed in the top three at the invitation-only UNC Real Estate Development Challenge. Ashley McDonald ’15, Matthew Nunn ’14, Atif Z. Qadir ’14, and Daniel Wagman ’15 of team “Sustained Growth Properties” finished third at the competition on February 20-21 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The case, “Harnessing Value in the Year of the Horse: The Nanyuan City Project,” sought the highest and best use for a 17-acre site in the Linping area of Hangzhou, the capital city of China’s Zhejiang Province. Using equity capital from the project sponsor, Century Bridge Capital located in Dallas and Beijing, the team’s development plan recommended a phased, mixed-use approach beginning with walkable shikumen-style retail areas, high-rise housing, an office tower, open-space components, and twin underground malls—a unique approach given the restrictions on above-grade building—to drive demand to the up-and-coming area. Subsequent phases would include low-rise residential units and additional retail.
“One of the greatest challenges of this case was thinking about the project site from the perspective of a Chinese developer,” commented McDonald. “One thing that differentiated our approach is that we developed a plan that was consistent with development projects in China and incorporated uses not typical for a U.S. development. For example, our proposal’s retail mall included both above-grade and below-grade space to maximize high-revenue-generating retail space while also complying with the strict land-use requirements of the site. Our team worked very well together due to the complementary nature of our backgrounds in architecture, construction, development, and finance.”
The School’s team was selected through auditions held by the Real Estate Association, and the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate supported the students’ travel to the competition. Judges from 13 prominent companies, including Adjunct Professor Tommy Craig ’82 of Hines, determined the placements. The team was awarded $2,500.
Hosted by the Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate Development at Kenan-Flagler Business School, the UNC Real Estate Development Challenge invites 16 teams from the United States and Europe’s top-20 MBA programs to compete. This annual event is the first business school case competition to focus solely on real estate development.