Students place second in real estate development competition



Alberto Albanelli, Michael Birach and Jordan Woodcock had only 72 hours to come up with a real estate developmental plan.

The three students are a part of Central Michigan University’s Real Estate Development and Finance program within the finance and law departments in the College of Business Administration. Started in 2006 by Patrick Corcoran, associate professor and program director, the undergraduate program is the only one of its kind in the state of Michigan.

The plan they developed in three day's time won second place and a $1,000 prize.

In early October, CMU real estate students were invited to participate in a competition sponsored by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the University of Michigan. The competition had teams assess Harmony Park, a neighborhood in downtown Detroit, and submit a plan for development of the area.

Students received the case on Nov. 4 and had to send in their two-page paper and PowerPoint presentation by Monday. The teams presented their solution to a panel of judges at the ULI conference Nov. 9 in Detroit.

The three spent Friday brainstorming and Woodcock said they spend Saturday in Detroit. Sunday and Monday were spent researching and writing at the library before they turned in their submission Monday night.

“We worked really well together as a team. We just went from study room to study room talking it out,” said Albanelli, a Novi senior. “We probably spent close to 24, 28 hours in the library that weekend.”

Corcoran said he knew managing time would be an issue.

“It’s a big investment of time, especially for students,” he said. “And it takes some courage to jump into something where you’re not sure who the competitors are going to be.”

Their competition consisted of five teams from the U-M. A majority of the other students were from Michigan’s graduate real estate program. U-M's program is architecturally-oriented, while CMU's is focused on finance.

Lake Orion senior Birach said they weren’t concerned about the other teams, only about their own approach and the judges.

The students’ idea was to turn three parking lots in the area into mixed-use residential and commercial buildings.

“We believed we did fairly well and we were a little bit disappointed that we just got second,” Birach said. “But we were still very excited. Plus after all the years of school, it’s exciting to finally put it toward something productive.”

Overall, Albanelli, Birach and Woodcock agreed they had an amazing experience and it was exciting to be able to represent CMU so well.

Birach said CMU's accomplishments in competitions such as ULI's and successful efforts of professors like Corcoran in placing students in internships across the country show the growth of the real estate development and finance program.

“Previously, a lot of people may have shrugged off CMU’s real estate development program," Birach said. "But in the past couple years, we’ve been consistently proving how great the program is through competitions like this and turning out good graduates"



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