Schulich students clinch first place title at Developers’ Den competition

Developers' Den Schulich

A team of students enrolled in the Master of Real Estate and Infrastructure (MREI) program at York University’s Schulich School of Business won first place in the eighth annual Developers’ Den international case competition.

The students beat out 11 other teams from leading graduate business and professional school programs. A team of MBA students from the Ivey School of Business placed second and an MBA team from the Schulich School of Business placed third.

Developers' Den Schulich
The Developers’ Den 2018 winning team is from the Schulich School of Business

Started in 2011, Developers’ Den is Canada’s longest running and most prestigious real estate case competition. This year’s competition was presented by Altus Group and co-hosted by Schulich’s Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure and the Schulich Real Property Alumni Association.

The winning team was made up of Schulich MREI students Alannah Bird, Derek Wei, Jordan Trinder and Bao Nguyen, who received a $6,000 prize. Ivey’s MBA team – Evan Reidel, Eric Koehn and Jarvis Lu – placed second and received $3,000. Schulich’s MBA team – Zachary Weinstock, Sam Magalnik, Asfar Rana and Parminder Dod – finished third and received $1,500.

The March 23 final round presentation and awards reception drew more than 100 industry representatives, who joined with 14 expert judges to watch North America’s top real estate students perform and network with the competitors and industry peers.

“The Developers’ Den competition provides an important opportunity for the best students to develop and showcase their analytical, creative and presentation skills as emerging talent in front of leaders within the real property sector,” said Jim Clayton, who was recently appointed to the Timothy R. Price Chair at Schulich’s Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure. “We are grateful for the tremendous support the competition receives from industry and alumni.”

Schulich’s new chair was established in honour of Timothy R. Price’s exceptional leadership and contributions to Canada’s thriving real estate industry. The chair, as well as the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure, were made possible by a generous $4-million donation from Tim Price and his wife, Frances Price, together with the Brookfield Partners Foundation.

Last year, Schulich launched the MREI program to complement its long-standing MBA specialization in real estate and infrastructure.

During the March 23 final phase of competition at Schulich’s Keele campus, the winning teams competed against teams from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University in New York, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in Washington and the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

The competition’s final round was judged by Mauro Pambianchi, chief development officer of SmartCentres REIT; Toni Rossi, president, real estate, Infrastructure Ontario; Geoff Grayhurst, president of Dorsay Development Corporation and a Schulich MBA graduate from the class of 1991; Fred Waks, president and CEO of Trinity Development Group; and Alan Vihant, executive vice-president of Great Gulf Homes.

“The competition was fierce as teams from each school brought forth their best and brightest, showcasing their skills with a healthy dose of competitive spirit,” said Christian Petersen, co-chair of the Developers’ Den Alumni Organizing Committee and a Schulich MBA graduate (’13).

“We threw a curveball at the students and not only did they demonstrate the ability to problem solve within a short period of time, but they proved that they could think on their feet and answer difficult questions when presenting to our esteemed panel,” added co-chair Christine Trinh, a fellow Schulich MBA graduate (’13).

The hypothetical case was prepared by volunteers of the Alumni Organizing Committee in partnership with global real estate investor, developer and manager Oxford Properties Group. The case involved Oxford’s DIX30, a 210-acre site comprising a 2.7-million square foot outdoor integrated lifestyle/retail centre in Brossard, Que., on Montreal’s South Shore. Phase 1 of the competition required teams to provide a 10-year strategic plan to drive the centre’s asset value while exploring a retail strategy and opportunities available through a master planning exercise. A twist was introduced in Phase 2 of the competition, when finalist teams were presented with an unsolicited offer to buy the property, recently valued at $716 million, for $800 million. Teams were tasked to assess the viability of the potential sale, taking into account current valuations, tenant activity and rent roll, as well as a competing adjacent property. Teams opting to hold the property were challenged to recommend ways to increase its value, while producing incentives and/or improvements to retain the 50 per cent of tenants with expiring leases over the next three years in the face of a competing mixed-use community under construction next door.

“We’re proud to once again sponsor Developers’ Den as it provides students with the opportunity to further develop and showcase their real estate knowledge in a rewarding and competitive way,” said Colin Johnston, president of research, valuation and advisory at Altus Group. “Through our continued involvement with this competition, we’re pleased to support the next generation of real estate professionals.”

Along with presenting sponsor Altus Group, a leading global provider of software, data and technology-enabled expert services to the global commercial real estate industry, competition sponsors included: Cadillac Fairview and Oxford, Quad, Smart Centres, Diamond Schmitt Architects, KPMB Architects, BA Group, Bousfield Inc., CBRE, Colliers International, Great Gulf, Harbour Equity, Hullmark and Minto Properties.

Proceeds from Developers’ Den will benefit Schulich’s Real Estate and Infrastructure Student Experience Fund.