- MBA Real Estate Program
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By Stephanie Wright ’16
Just in time for cherry blossoms, the Columbia Business School (CBS) Real Estate Association (REA) traveled to Washington, D.C. on April 10 to learn more about current investments trends and opportunities within this uniquely supply constrained and public sector driven market. They were joined by representatives from the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate and CBS Career Management Center for a day-long trek around D.C.’s central business district, Tysons Corner, and Reston, VA.
To kick the morning off, the group stopped by Cushman & Wakefield’s regional office for breakfast and a market overview. Eric Berkman, Executive Director, Capital Markets, and Malcolm Marshall, Executive Director, Brokerage, led a lively discussion of what’s driving the current disconnect between D.C. leasing fundamentals and pricing. Topics ranged from the impact of sequestration to historical barriers to entry, including the city’s height restrictions. Berkman and Marshall also spoke about broader changes within the industry such as the entrance of millennials into the professional market and the rise of analytics.
Next up was a brief visit to regional developer, Akridge, where the students met with Mike Gill ’03, Senior Vice President, Acquisitions and Adam Gooch ’05, Senior Vice President, Development. Mr. Gill took students through two of the firm’s most well-known projects, 1200 Seventeenth Street, NW and Gallery Place. Mouths gapped as Gill showed photos of two huge project delays on 1200 Seventeenth Street, NW – first, a water main break that turned the site into D.C. largest pool and second, a rigging failure that plunged the project’s air handler 13 stories to the ground. Despite these setbacks, 1200 Seventeenth Street has performed very well and affirmed Akridge’s track record of intelligent site selection and value creation. Perhaps no property better demonstrates this ability than Gill’s first project with the firm, Gallery Place, which students instantly recognized as a place marker in the East End submarket. This one million square foot mixed-use property was an excellent case study on site assemblage, TIF financing and stacked programming.
The group made a drive-by visit to Gallery Place on their way to their next stop, CityCenter. Howard Riker, Managing Director at Hines and lead on the project, introduced this 10 acre redevelopment that has become a hallmark of the City’s continued effort to carry activity from the Mall through to downtown. CityCenter is one of the largest downtown redevelopment projects nationwide and one of the most complex. Mr. Riker spoke about only some of the myriad decisions that went into the project, including discussions on how Hines managed risk, brought capital into the deal and successfully programmed the development with high-end retail, residential, office, hotel and community space to create a tangible, livable sense of place.
Then it was all aboard as the group rode the D.C. metro out to Tysons Corner. There they were joined by Donna Shafer, Executive Vice President of Cityline Partners, who lead a Q&A session on her firm’s redevelopment the country’s 12th largest commercial business district. Students were fascinated by Cityline’s plans to transform this traditionally suburban office and super regional mall submarket into a vibrant urban center, as well as the complexities of such a master plan. Topics included the creation of a new streetscape, the revitalization of Scotts Run, and the master plan’s residential programming.
Last on the docket was a stop at Boston Properties’ Reston Town Center, which offered a fantastic comparison and preview of things to come for Tysons Corner. Boston Properties owns and manages five properties located at Reston Town Center, the “downtown” of Northern Virginia, and one of the first neo-traditional, mixed-use developments in the United States. Rich Ellis, Vice President, and Peter Otteni, Vice President, walked students through the history of Reston, including Boston Properties’ accretive acquisitions within the development and the development’s next phase. The group then toured the Town Center before catching the metro back into D.C.
To cap the day, the CBS Alumni Club of Metro D.C. hosted evening cocktails at the City Club of Washington. Students and alumni networked and enjoyed much deserved refreshments to close out another successful REA trip.
The REA would like to thank the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate and CBS Career Management Center for their support. A special thank you goes out to Gideon Gil ’00 of Cushman & Wakefield who played an instrumental role in organizing the meetings, spending the day with, and providing lunch to the group. The REA would also like to express gratitude to Ben Friedmann ’16 and his parents for hosting the students at their home for cocktails and lively discussion on the evening of April 9. Additional thanks to Alice Walsh of the Westin Washington, D.C. City Center and Lee Kulsha of Starwood Hotels & Resorts for securing hotel accommodations for the students and administrators during the busy National Cherry Blossom Festival weekend.
2015 Washington, D.C. Trek Photo Slideshow
(Trek Photographers: Reuben Gan ’16 and Juan Miguel Capurro ’16)
Stephanie Wright ’16 is a 2015-2016 Co-President of the Real Estate Association at Columbia Business School. A Columbia Real Estate Circle Fellow, WX scholarship recipient, and PREA scholarship recipient, she is focusing on real estate finance and investments. Stephanie will join Prudential Real Estate Investors for the summer and previously worked for Brookfield Asset Management and Jonathan Rose Companies, both in New York.