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By April Chye ’19
On November 5th and 6th, a group of twenty-one first and second year real estate students travelled to Los Angeles to meet with real estate professionals focused on development, investment and advisory services. The group was joined by Executive-in-Residence, Leanne Lachman and Kristin Svenningsen, Managing Director of the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate, and visited seven companies over two days. Students arrived on Sunday, November 4th, and kicked off the West Coast trek with a happy hour in the historic Arts District of downtown LA.
The first day began at CBRE’s global headquarters in downtown LA where Director of Divisional Research, Petra Durnin and her colleague David Nusbaum gave the group an overview of LA’s commercial, industrial and multi-family markets. The group then made their way to Chapman Plaza, a historic Spanish baroque mixed use property in Korea Town, purchased by Arc Capital in 2016. Columbia Business School alumnus, co-founder and managing partner of Arc Capital, Neville Rhone ’00, along with Quincy Allen and Michael Downes, led the group on a site tour of the property and discussed how their team repositioned the 50,000 square foot historic retail center into a culturally-rich culinary destination.
After lunch, the group made its way to the Hines LA office where Sofia Zamora ’18 and Ted Hart presented several completed Hines projects. Century Park, a portfolio of 3,305,120 square feet of Class A office space is strategically located in West LA’s submarket Century City and is currently let to institutions including Ares Capital Management, JPMorgan and Westfield amongst others. The Campus at Playa Vista, a four building Class A office complex in West LA, was acquired in 2013 and is let to Facebook, Belkin and USC’s Institute for Creative Technology amongst others.
The last company visit of the day was at CIM’s headquarters where Jennifer Gandin ’99, gave the opening remarks to the group. Lawrence Ou ’09 and Pavlos Yeorgaroudakis ’16 gave an overview of the firm’s structure and various platforms, while Cindy Chong and Justin Evans discussed the Hollywood & Highland case study, a five-story outdoor retail and entertainment complex located in the heart of Hollywood Boulevard acquired in 2004 by CIM which has since been substantially renovated and re-tenanted. The group then followed Julian El Abidin on a site tour of The Lot, a historic full-service TV and film studio in West Hollywood, which includes a three phase office development project partially let to the Oprah Winfrey’s Network as well as Showtime.
The first day ended with a networking reception for students and Los Angeles alumni at the Sixty Beverley Hills Hotel rooftop bar.
The second day started with a tour of Mack Real Estate Group’s WREN and AVEN multi-family development projects in downtown LA, led by CBS alum Herschel Bender ’15 and Andrew Dutton. After a meeting in the penthouse of Mack Real Estate Group’s offices, where students were given the opportunity to ask questions about Mack Real Estate Group’s development and acquisition strategies as well as its regional vision for its downtown LA portfolio, the group then toured the completed WREN project and the under-construction AVEN project.
After a brief lunch, the next visit was with Clarion Partners at their office in downtown LA, where Dean Rostovky ’03, Khalid Rashid ’08 and Brian Hinds ’17 gave an overview of the firm’s various fund structures and delved into several case studies of recently completed projects. The group was given the chance to learn more about the various platforms that Clarion Partners offered and to understand the different roles that exist within the firm.
The last visit of the trek was to a Greystar multifamily property located near Marina del Rey, Forty55 Lofts. Hillary Widlitz ’17 showed the group a refurbished model unit and discussed the improvements that her team had been making over the past year which had then allowed Greystar to increase the rent on renovated units.
The trek ended with a happy hour at SALT Bar in the Marina del Rey hotel, where most of the group lounged by the marina and discussed learning about the LA market and the company visits before making their way to the airport for the flight back to New York. A big thanks to the Paul Milstein Center for hosting the alumni reception on Monday evening, and for extending resources to help make the trek an extremely successful one!
April Chye ’19 graduated from Columbia College in 2014 with a major in English Literature and double concentrations in Political Science and Business Management. Prior to Columbia Business School, she worked at Bloomberg where she ran several high profile financial data enhancement initiatives out of Singapore and Hong Kong. Having grown up in a family real estate enterprise, she hopes to pivot into a career in real estate post-MBA and interned at Bank of America Merrill Lynch within their Real Estate, Gaming & Lodging investment banking coverage group this summer.