UC San Diego Wins NAIOP’s 11th Annual University Challenge

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UC San Diego Wins NAIOP’s 11th Annual University Challenge

An undergraduate student team from UC San Diego’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning submitted the superior development plan at NAIOP San Diego’s 11th annual University Challenge, beating out teams from San Diego State University’s Corky McMillin Center for Real Estate and University of San Diego’s Burnham Moores Center for Real Estate for the second year in a row. The final presentations and judging were held on Thursday, April 22 in a virtual format.

Teams of up to six students created development plans to compete as the highest and best use for the proposed land site at the southwest corner of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and Ruffner Street. While Independence Square and a Ford dealership currently occupy part of the site, students were told to imagine the land is vacant and rough graded for purposes of the Challenge.

Each team presented separately before a panel of industry judges via Zoom, and then again in front of a live Zoom audience.

“This was probably the best year we’ve had, where all three teams excelled in all areas of judging,” said Mike McNerney of Lowe, team leader for NAIOP’s judging panel. “This was a close contest.”

The UC San Diego student team, comprised of Katharina Schultz, Natalie Tran, Kristine Shen, Khalid Akhrass, Logan Swanson and Justin Kim presented CHI, their mixed-use development plan for the 17.8-acre site that mixed culture, health and innovation.

“The judges thought the UC San Diego team has the nicest mix of commercial and residential space and balances the site the best,” McNerney continued. “Their plan’s emphasis on storage is smart and the focus on wellness components is really important – for all of us.”

The $414 million winning plan proposed two phases of construction to include high tech office space, multifamily homes with associated storage space, a food park and open space. The students also envisioned a 10,400-square-foot occupancy from blue-tech company BlueNalu, and they were creative in attaining density bonuses to increase the ratio of residential to commercial space allowed in the zoning.

Entries were judged by San Diego real estate luminaries NcNerney, Ben Badiee of Badiee Development, Casey Brown from The Casey Brown Company, Dennis Cruzan of Cruzan, Dan Feldman of Sunroad Enterprises, Zack Holderman of CBRE, Mike Mahoney of Ryan Companies, Kelly Moden of cREate Development, Bryan Clark of JLL and Tim Nguyen of the Kearny Mesa Planning Group.

Throughout the competition, the university teams had access to volunteer experts from architectural firms LPA, Inc., Gensler or Carrier Johnson + Culture. The Carrier Johnson + Culture team that was randomly selected to advise UC San Diego included John Martinez and Amber Lake. The teams were also allowed to turn to Mark McGovern of CBRE for finance; Luis Foglio of Suffolk Construction for construction; Dave Davis of DF Davis Real Estate for appraisal; Mike Leake of Sheppard Mullin for legal assistance; and Mark McGovern from CBRE for review of their financial models. The teams also accessed their alumni in the industry for assistance.

Proceeds from University Challenge will fund scholarships for each participating school. University Challenge was sponsored by McGrath Development, Inc., as well as H.G. Fenton Company, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Lowe, Ryan Companies and Sunroad Enterprises.

About NAIOP San Diego

NAIOP San Diego is a chapter of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, and it comprises more than 750 members serving the local San Diego market. NAIOP is the leading organization for developers, owners and related professionals in office, industrial and mixed use/retail real estate, with 20,000 members in North America. NAIOP advances responsible commercial real estate development and advocates for effective public policy. For more information, visit www.naiopsd.org.