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By Emily Steinberg ’18
Columbia Business School’s case competition team topped 14 other business schools to finish first place in the 2017 Real Estate Development Challenge hosted by UNC on February 17. The team, Strokos Capital, consisting of Durrell Mack ’17, Will Noyes ’17, John Pollock ’17 and Emily Steinberg ’18, impressed the judges by presenting a plan to redevelop a 145-acre retired U.S. army base outside of downtown Atlanta.
The case, “Georgia on my Mind: Fort McPherson,” involved working with the Fort McPherson Local Redevelopment Authority to conceive and implement a redevelopment plan that would satisfy various stakeholders, including the local government, existing users of the land including a VA Clinic and Charter School, residents of the surrounding low-income neighborhoods, and the adjacent Tyler Perry Studios site. Taking into account these various perspectives, the team recommended a phased, mixed-use redevelopment plan beginning with a central urban village concept incorporating multifamily and senior housing, retail, medical office, and community properties, as well as a new hotel and craft brewery. The second phase of the development included a big box retailer and movie theater, as well as performing arts space and additional residential buildings. Finally, the third phase of the development included single-family housing and a dedicated nature preserve.
In establishing redevelopment priorities, Strokos Capital placed particular emphasis on creating sustainable economic development within the area. This goal was met through collaboration with community partners to facilitate job creation, healthy living and safety, and to ensure that retail and residential offerings were suitable to a variety of income levels. The social mission of the development encouraged the use of nontraditional equity sources. As Noyes noted, “A project of this complexity and magnitude, and with such potential to reactivate an underserved area, required some creativity in identifying financing sources – our plan relied on tax credits, local government funding sources, and Community Reinvestment Act and social impact financing to be completed.”
“A challenge we had to overcome from the outset was wrapping our heads around a project of this scale and with so many different parties involved,” Pollock furthered. “We really relied on drawing from our diverse backgrounds and trying to keep feedback from the local community in the forefront as we thought through our vision for the site.”
The School’s team was selected last fall by the Real Estate Association, and the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate supported the students’ travel to the competition. Judges from prominent U.S. real estate companies as well as the Executive Director of the Fort McPherson Local Redevelopment Authority determined the placements. The team was awarded $10,000 for its first place finish.
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.
Emily Steinberg ’18 is a first-year student at Columbia Business School. She serves as assistant vice president for events in the Real Estate Association. Prior to CBS, Emily worked at Goldman Sachs in both the Investment Management Division and Office of the General Counsel.