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By Eric Schaffer ’18
On Wednesday, December 13th, four teams of students in Adjunct Professor Andrew C. Jacobs’ ’96 Real Estate Project Class presented their final presentations as part of the Alexander Bodini Foundation Competition held in Uris Hall. In keeping with tradition, at the start of the semester, the class was divided into eight teams to focus on projects each sponsored by a real estate firm. Jamestown, Knickpoint Ventures, Sterling Organization, and Urban American were the sponsoring firms this year and gave students an opportunity to take a real-world idea, develop it into a comprehensive business plan, and make an oral presentation of the plan to a panel of professional real estate alumni. This real-world case methodology forms the basis of the real estate class. Over the course of the semester, each team of students visited the properties, met with project stakeholders, conducted primary research, and analyzed the projects they were tasked with. The Alexander Bodini Foundation Prize, Real Estate Project Class Final Presentations Competition represents the culmination of that work, with one team from each sponsor selected to present.
The first presentation of the evening was from Elliot Fry ’18, Zach Gorn ’18, Jeff Harrington ’18, and Michael Steinberg ’18. They presented on behalf of Jamestown on an improvement proposal for two grocery-anchored strip center retail properties in South Florida. The team proposed despite the rise of e-commerce and dynamic consumer behavior leading to a secular decline in traditional retail, grocery-anchored retail is more immune to these threats. The first of the two assets presented was Country Club Plaza in Miami Gardens, FL, a 100% occupied retail center anchored by a Publix, CVS, and Party City. The Polo Club Shoppes in Boca Raton, the second asset analyzed by the team, has a much higher-end tenants and older clientele in its catchment area. The team’s business plans were laid out in detail. The plans are proposed to increase the IRR by 2.85% over the “business-as-usual” case. Q&A focused largely on Amazon and how it related to the presentation.
The second group to present was on behalf of Knickpoint Ventures led by Will Miao ’18, Kelvin Ng ’18, and Lillian Xia ’18. As Knickpoint is a newly formed real estate company focusing on industrial, the team began with a look at the macro picture for industrial, which has been performing extremely well the past few years, driving cap rates to all-time lows. The purpose of the project was to create a general strategy for the sponsor, so the team inspected all types of industrial assets and narrowed down by ruling out poor fits for the market or the investor. The team’s recommendations were laid out in detail. Q&A mostly focused on the financial analysis, which the team relied on conversations with brokers to help underwrite.
The Urban American team led by Heera Gangaramani ’18, Graham Drury ’18 and Stephan Sakhai ’18 then presented on 665 New York Avenue, a multifamily redevelopment project in the Prospect Lefferts area of Brooklyn. A discussion of the property and submarket was followed by a detailed explanation of their decision tree, in which the team considered several possible uses for the property and discussed different implications for upzoning the site.
Finally, Sam Fenwick ’18, Alex Grant ’18, and Emily Steinberg ’18 gave the last presentation on behalf of the Sterling Organization. The project was to propose improvements to two retail properties in Beverly Hills, California that had recently been acquired by Sterling. The presentation began, like the others, with an overall look at the Los Angeles retail market and where the projects fit into that landscape. An analysis of the actual properties followed, focusing on who potential tenants could be, who the project could be exited to, and returns analysis. The team was thorough in their analysis at every level and Q&A covered ownership issues and market specific information.
In the end, it was the Sterling Organization team who took home 1st place. Asked about what made a winning formula, team member Emily Steinberg ’18 had this to say: “From day one we set out to do a thorough job and used the length of the course to build a progressive analysis of these projects, leading to our ultimate recommendations.”
2nd place was awarded to Knickpoint Ventures, followed by Urban American and Jamestown. The judges for the competition were Columbia Business School alumni Matthew Baron ’07, Ed Gormbley ’09, and Tom Ortinau ’09, who each asked insightful questions to the presenters and gave great feedback. A dinner and reception followed the presentations, where Professor Jacobs ’96 along with the judges presented the final results.
The Columbia Business School faculty, staff, and students extends our sincerest gratitude to Ambassador Daniele D. Bodini ’72 for graciously supporting the Alexander Bodini Foundation Prize Competition. Through the support of Ambassador Bodini and the Foundation, this year’s competition marked the nineteenth edition, a signature offering of the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate and the MBA Real Estate Program.
2017 Alexander Bodini Foundation Prize Winners – Real Estate Project Class Final presentations, December 13, 2017.
1st Place, Sterling Organization
2nd Place, Knickpoint Ventures
3rd Place, Urban American
4th Place, Jamestown
Eric Schaffer ’18 is a New Jersey native focused on real estate investment and development at Columbia as a J-Term student. After graduating from Emory University, Eric worked at Cushman & Wakefield's Shanghai office, where he helped lead the China Investment & Capital Markets division for several years. From 2016, he has run the Outbound business line for Core Capital Asia, a pure-play cross border real estate investment advisory firm.