USC Price School of Public Policy

USC tops UCLA in 15th Annual NAIOP Real Estate Challenge

USC tops UCLA in 15th Annual NAIOP Real Estate Challenge

USC MRED students Members of the USC’s winning Real Estate Challenge team, with Dr. Christian Redfearn (far right) and Sonia Savoulian, pose with the Silver Shovel.

A team of future real estate leaders from the University of Southern California defeated their cross-town counterparts at UCLA to reclaim the Silver Shovel on Nov. 15 in an annual competition between two of the world’s most prestigious real estate programs.

Sponsored by the NAIOP (National Association for Industrial and Office Parks) Commercial Real Estate Development Association, the Real Estate Challenge presents a specific Los Angeles development scenario to teams of students representing graduate programs at USC and UCLA.

This year’s challenge — the Slauson Avenue Redevelopment Project — was also sponsored by the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Over the past year, Ridley-Thomas and his staff have been working closely with local residents to promote community revitalization along the corridor and the NAIOP Challenge presented a unique opportunity to move the effort forward.

The student teams were asked to design and present a project for a four acre parcel on the north side of Slauson Avenue between Overhill Drive and Angeles Vista Boulevard. The proposals were not only to achieve the owner’s profit goals but also have a positive impact on nearby neighborhoods and support the long-term planning goals of the County and City of Los Angeles.

“They were charged with developing a site that would gain approvals, earn appropriate returns, and catalyze the surrounding community,” said Christian Redfearn, Director of the Dollinger Master of Real Estate Development program at the USC Price School of Public Policy. “This was no easy task in this economy and along the Slauson Corridor, but their idea took form after dedicating countless hours in the community, speaking with numerous real estate professionals, and conferring with local public officials.”

Drawing inspiration from the area’s history as the first Athlete’s Village for the Olympic Games, the USC team proposed Olympic Commons, a mixed-use project that combines retail amenities and housing options to create a space that is active, connected and engaged. The team successfully argued that project would boost the local economy and strengthen the social and civic fabric in the surrounding neighborhoods of Windsor Hills, View Park and Ladera Heights.

“Olympic Commons addressed the concerns of all stakeholders and identified the site’s hidden potential. Our students showed full command of the community, local market and their project,” added Redfearn.

Members of the USC team, all of whom are scheduled to complete either a Dollinger Master of Real Estate Development (MRED) or MBA in 2013, were Kelso Barnett, MBA/MRED; Russell Gould, MRED; Gregory Heller, MRED; Joshua Plattner, MPL/MRED; and Elliot J. Weinstock, MBA/MRED.

The team was awarded the Silver Shovel, a traveling trophy engraved with each year’s winners, and a $5,000 contribution made on USC’s behalf to the Challenge for Charity. The entries were judged by a panel of industry leaders from the top development, investment, architectural and financial firms in Los Angeles and Orange counties.