Master of Real Estate Development team wins national case challenge

Published: January 04, 2021

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Three Auburn graduate executive students took top honors in a University of Maryland case competition designed to test teams’ skills and knowledge of commercial real estate markets, project valuation, finance and urban design and sustainability.

Auburn Master of Real Estate Development, or MRED, students Kevin R. Boyett, Zac Marquess and McDaniel Wyatt earned $10,000 for their first-place finish in the fifth annual 2020 Colvin Case Study Challenge, a national intercollegiate real estate case study competition sponsored by the University of Maryland’s Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development. They beat an initial field of 20 teams representing university programs across the country to qualify and win in the juried, virtual finals Dec. 12. Second place went to Thomas Jefferson University, while Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business finished third.

“The Colvin Case Study is a great tool to utilize an insider view of a special project. We can see how different groups approach substantial developments and bring those same ideas home to our investments,” said Marquess. “Real Estate is such a multi-faceted industry, and experiences like this case study help students with different backgrounds understand and communicate much more effectively.”

The national written case study competition challenges teams to document a recent innovative real estate project within their own metropolitan region. Projects are judged by a team of leading real estate professionals and academics on several criteria including a depth of understanding of local property markets, project valuation, finance, urban design and sustainability, entitlement processes and operational issues.

Boyett, Marquess and Wyatt documented the 25-story SunTrust Plaza building in downtown Orlando. This recently completed mixed-use tower anchors the southwestern corner of the central downtown core near Church Street Station and the Amway Center, home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Jay Mittal, Ph.D., served as the team’s faculty advisor, and professor Greg Winchester was the team’s professional advisor.

“It’s a well-researched case study, and the team analyzed the case and presented the project with sound market research. They clearly highlighted the innovative design and financial strategy that makes this transit oriented, mixed-use project, which anchors a hotel and office space in downtown Orlando, unique,” said Mittal. “Skills developed through Auburn’s MRED program and their professional experience were tested, and the team did excellent research using document and data analysis and interviews to recreate project details. They were extremely clear, confident and well prepared during the final review and aptly responded to the questions, which made the difference when presenting the case to the judging panel.”

“Auburn is grateful to the development team of Lincoln Property Company, Mason Capital Partners and HuntonBrady Architects for allowing us to present their transformative mixed-use project in Downtown Orlando,” said Winchester. “This innovative project is now the anchor and gateway to the southwest area of downtown Orlando. Their collaboration with our team was instrumental and vital to our successful win.”

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Submitted by: Joe McAdory