Plan to Save Mall Wins Real Estate Students 1st Place in Contest
Jan. 16, 2014
A plan to resuscitate an ailing retail mall recently earned a team of Naveen Jindal School of Management undergraduates first place and $4,000 in the inaugural case competition of the International Council of Shopping Centers.
UT Dallas was one of seven universities invited to enter the Texas ICSC contest, which was introduced at the trade association’s annual conference in November in Dallas. Other invitees were Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, Texas Christian University, the University of North Texas, the University of Oklahoma and The University of Texas at Austin.
Jindal School of Management team members (from left) Tryna Hammond, Karmen Lau, Stephanie Jacobs and Douglas Hermann won the top prize and $4,000 in a recent real estate case competition.
“It’s a special win for the Jindal School because our real estate curriculum — courses in which the students learn the special skills they need to succeed in competitions like this one — is new and growing,” said Dr. Hasan Pirkul, Jindal School dean and Caruth Chair of Management.
“Dr. Guttery’s class laid the foundation for the whole project,” said team member Douglas Hermann, a senior in finance and president of the UT Dallas Real Estate Club. “That’s really the starting point for anywhere you want to go in real estate. With his class, you have the basic knowledge to branch out into whatever field you’re interested: retail, industrial, office, residential, appraisal and more.”
Guttery tapped Hermann; Karmen Lau, a fall 2013 global business and business administration graduate; and Tryna Hammond and Stephanie Jacobs, both fall 2013 business administration grads, to apply what they had learned to the competition challenge. It called on them to craft a rescue plan for a hypothetical shopping center in distress. Having fallen into foreclosure, the property was held by a bank that had requested help to both stabilize and revitalize the center before putting it up for sale.
The JSOM team developed a complete response addressing leasing, management, development, government and sales-market concerns. The largest anchor tenant, a 30,000-square-foot grocery, had gone out of business. The center’s previous owners not only had defaulted on their loan but also had neglected day-to-day management. City government was raising the specter of eminent-domain purchase of some center property.
The team proposal began with demolition of the grocery store to rebuild the anchor space at 15,000 square feet and lease it to a nationally affiliated tenant.
Next, the team mined enough facts and figures on traffic, wage and income prospects, and real estate trends to decide, Hammond said, that “lucrative growth potential would be a selling point to new tenants or help in the future sale of the property.”
“Third, we wanted to stay true to the community,” Hammond said, “and would support [it] by bringing in community events such as a farmers market. ... We also created a plan to help our ‘mom and pop’ businesses with marketing programs, social media classes” and more.
“We wanted to stay true to the community, and would support it by bringing in community events such as a farmer’s market. ... We also created a plan to help our ‘mom and pop’ businesses with marketing programs, social media classes.”
The team also suggested creating a website where students from the college within walking distance of the center could apply for full- or part-time positions and receive special student discounts.
“Our focus was to think big and help promote our tenants and our community,” Hammond said.
Preparation led to a 30-minute presentation the team gave to a panel of seven judges, including Texas ICSC director Kendra Hinderland.
Michelle Miller, JSOM’s director of corporate relations and a past ICSC member, served as the team’s mentor and connected the group with consulting industry professionals who were also JSOM alumni actively involved in launching the school’s real estate courses. Jefflyn Williamson BS’83, owner and president of commercial real estate firm Jefflyn and Co.; and Steve Zimmerman BS’89, managing director/brokerage of The Retail Connection, gave the foursome advice and feedback on their work.
With professionals helping, judging and attending the conference, “there were fantastic networking opportunities before and after competition,” Stephanie Jacobs told an ICSC blogger.
“Enrollment in real estate courses has more than tripled in only two years’ time,” Guttery said, “as we had 469 students enroll in our classes in the 2013 calendar year. This demand and student successes such as this case study win confirm that we are fulfilling an industry need and are on the right track with the curriculum we are teaching.”