REAIC/Rockfeller Group Challenge showcases MRED students' creativity

Students from the Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) program competed for a cash prize during the 7th Annual Real Estate Investment Advisory Council/Rockefeller Group Challenge on Wednesday, May 6. In the midst of COVID-19, this year’s challenge was held via Zoom. Despite the circumstances, the event maintained a level of professionalism, competition, and excitement.

“The Rockefeller Group is honored to participate in what has become an annual tradition that has provided additional motivation for MRED students to be selected as one of the top teams to compete in the challenge,” says Mark Singerman, past president of the Real Estate Investment Advisory Council (REIAC) Southwest chapter and vice president/regional director-Arizona for the Rockefeller Group, the event’s title sponsor.

The MRED students were asked to make proposals centered around the 10.8-acre Danielle Plaza — an area similar to many 1960s neighborhoods highlighted by Yucca Taproom and creative murals. It is located in Tempe, Arizona, on the southwest corner of Mill and Southern Avenue.

Mark Stapp, Executive Director of the MRED program, expressed gratitude for this year’s REIAC-Rockefeller Group Challenge. “Thank you to everyone here, our sponsors, and thank you to our program mentors, the architecture, and capital partners. There is a little friendly competition during this event, but that makes it fun.”

The teams New Borough Development, Urban Collaborative Development, Art Plaza Development, and Revive Development presented and answered questions centered around Danielle Plaza. Each team brought creative thinking, insight, strategy, and a clear knowledge of the real estate development process.

After four presentations followed by questions from audience members, attendees voted virtually through a Zoom poll. The competition was close, and needed a tiebreaker, but New Borough Development came out on top (each team member will win $1,000). Their presentation highlighted offering quality housing, retail spaces, and additional annual tax revenue of $151,000 for the city of Tempe while providing stakeholders with vibrant and safe spaces, with the promise of driving up property values.

The team included Alex Licata, Trevor Szafran, Alexander Shea, Jagger Everett, and Joe Khibeir. “Development is no different from anything else; it’s all about people, respect, integrity, quality, and creativity,” said Khibeir. “These principles were used to guide our vision. Months of research, conversation, design, and revision led to our final proposal and we are filled with humble gratitude to have been named the REIAC winner. It was not an easy process, but it’s rewarding. I highly recommend the MRED program for those who are seeking an academic challenge with real-world application.”

As the challenge concluded, Stapp left attendees with some final words, “Thank you for attending virtually. It was a good learning experience, and thanks again to our students for participating and for the great turnout!”

Find out more about the MRED program at W. P. Carey, here.

Madeline Sargent

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