A student team from the UCLA Anderson School of Management has placed second in a national real estate case competition.
Janet Kang (FEMBA ’16), Jesse Mays (FEMBA ’16), Vivek Sai (FEMBA ’17) and Ray Van De Walker (FEMBA ’16) competed in the annual competition, known as “The CASE,” sponsored by the MIT Center for Real Estate Alumni Association. In January, the team had five days to develop an original proposal, including a financing plan and architectural renderings, for the redevelopment of a nine-acre waterfront parcel at the Port of Miami.
The team developed a mixed-use development program for the site that included a 400-key hotel, 250,000 square feet of retail and 180,000 square feet of office, surrounded by a park and open-air auditorium. They called their development Crucero Bay.
Industry experts assembled by MIT winnowed the original 31 entrants down to 12 semifinalist teams. The UCLA team traveled to Boston in February to compete in the semifinals, where they presented their proposal to a panel of real estate industry representatives.
“It was our goal to make it to Miami, so we were incredibly excited when, at the end of the day, they announced we were one of the top three teams and would be heading to the finals,” said Kang.
The UCLA team traveled to Miami in late February to participate in the finals, which were held at the Executive Officers Leadership Retreat of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers. The team participated in all the activities of the two-day meeting as NAREIM Fellows, including panel discussions and an exclusive tour of the Port of Miami.
The experience culminated in a presentation of the development proposal to the conference attendees, which included 60 senior executives from the nation’s top real estate investment firms. A panel of judges from Goldman Sachs, Skanska, Bentall Kennedy, CoStar and other companies peppered the teams with questions. In the end, the UCLA team placed a very close second to a team from Georgetown's Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate program.
“We were told that the debate in the deliberation room was intense, and it was very close between us and Georgetown. The judges thought our proposal was the most pragmatic and realistic,” said Van De Walker.
“It was our first case competition and our first time working together as a team. Besides myself, no one on the team has ever worked in real estate,” said Sai, an architectural designer. Kang most recently worked in business development in the apparel industry; Mays previously worked as an aid to a San Diego city council member; and Van De Walker is a senior financial analyst at Edison International.
The team credits Anderson professors, including Eric Sussman, Stuart Gabriel and Paul Habibi, for instilling the knowledge necessary to succeed in the competition.
“Thank you to the Ziman Center for its support, financial and otherwise, which helped us have this incredible educational experience,” said Mays.