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By Robin Lore ’19
On November 6th and 7th, a group of nineteen first and second year real estate students travelled to the Bay Area to meet with local professionals focused on real estate development, investment, advisory services and tech. The group was joined by representatives from Columbia Business School and the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate and visited nine companies over two days. Students arrived on Sunday, November 5th and kicked off the West Coast trek by joining students from the Columbia Business School Investment Banking Club, who were on a similar career trek, for a joint happy hour in Oakland.
The first full day started at the Hines Oakland office where Kevin Chow CC’07, John Chen and Charlie Tilleman presented two residential projects that Hines is developing. 2270 Broadway will be the second high-rise multi-family rental building in Oakland with 223 units and will compete with San Francisco residential buildings for tenants with lower rents and accessibility to the city. The team also presented MacArthur Commons, a 395 unit multi-family rental development located in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. Directly adjacent to the MacArthur BART station, the largest BART stop in the Bay Area, this project will contain three residential buildings developed by Hines and one 24-story multi-family rental tower developed by Boston Properties. These two companies also partnered to develop Salesforce Tower, which the group visited later in the day.
The morning continued as students crossed the bay into San Francisco to visit CBRE. Camille Baer Martinez and Lexi Russell from the office research team gave the group an overview of the Bay Area office market. In addition, Camille and Lexi walked through CBRE’s Scoring Tech Talent report, a comprehensive analysis of labor market conditions, cost and quality for highly skilled tech workers in the 50 largest markets in the US and Canada.
After lunch, the group made their way through the crowds from the DreamForce Conference, which was occupying much of the city, to visit Mirjam Link, AC’10 at Boston Properties’ impressive Salesforce Tower sales center. Mirjam presented on the development process of Salesforce Tower, the tallest building in San Francisco.
The last company visit of the day was at Airbnb’s headquarters where the group toured the office with Nancy Wang. As a global project manager responsible for opening new Airbnb offices around the world, she shared how design drives culture at the company.
The first day ended with a networking reception for students and San Francisco alumni at the JW Marriott Union Square. Big thanks to the Paul Milstein Center and the Career Management Center for sponsoring the reception, and to all of the alumni who came out to meet and network with the students.
The second day started bright and early with a tour of CIM Group’s One Mission Bay, a luxury condo development in Mission Bay, led by Karin Schrader, Vice President, Investments. After a meeting in the sales center where students had the opportunity to ask questions about the project and check out the development model and finishings, Karin and her team provided a tour of the development site.
The next visit was with Matt Kaye ’11, a Senior Product Manager at Trulia, who hosted a candid Q&A session and discussed some of the big challenges that Trulia is facing, such as determining how people decide where to live, and the best way to connect buyers and sellers of real estate. The visit with Trulia concluded with a tour of their sleek and “quintessentially tech” office space.
After a brief lunch the group visited Bentall Kennedy to discuss the state of the market and recent transactions with Amy Price, President and CIO, Dara Friedman, SVP Portfolio Management, and Matt Henning, VP Transactions. The team walked students through some of the deals they had recently worked on across the US and even offered a sneak peek into the new opportunity fund that they are launching.
A visit with Adam Ballew ’11, Vice President, and Craig Hine, Managing Director, from Spear Street Capital provided a deep dive into their 2015 acquisition of the BlackBerry real estate portfolio. The 3 million square foot, 19 building portfolio was purchased for over $300 million. Spear Street walked the group through some of the leasing challenges as well as the strategies used to lease up three large pieces of the portfolio.
The final stop on the trip was with William Birdsey, Vice President at the Carlyle Group. William was interviewed by his Carlyle colleague and REA member Fernando Rocha ‘19 and discussed some of the more challenging and intricate deals that he has done on the West Coast.
The Real Estate Association would like to thank the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate, especially Assistant Director Tricia Philip-Rao who accompanied the group to San Francisco, all of the generous alumni and company hosts, as well as the REA trip organizers and other members who helped put this trek together.
Robin Lore ’19 is a 1st year student focused on real estate and is the AVP of Trips for the Real Estate Association. Prior to Columbia Business School, Robin worked at Bentall Kennedy, a North American real estate advisor, on both the investment management and corporate teams. Robin graduated from the University of British Columbia with a BCom in Finance and Real Estate and is a CFA Charterholder.