As we entered our final semester at Auburn’s Executive MRED program, program director Michael Robinson suggested that Auburn enter one or two teams into MIT’s “THE CASE” competition. This prestigious international real estate competition focuses on real estate acquisition and development financial underwriting at the asset level. The competition mimics the professional circumstances and assignments that students interested in real estate finance, acquisitions and development are likely to encounter after graduation.
This years CASE focussed on the acquisition and redevelopment of the J. Edger Hoover Building, current home of the FBI, located on Pennsylvania Ave in the the heart of Washington DC. Click here to read the full RFP. This project proved to be challenging due to the current conditions of the building, existing tenants, and ever changing real estate conditions the the demanding DC area. To add to the pressure, each group was only given four days to complete the RFP submittal.
After speaking to Professor Robinson about the project, I began to put our team together. Ultimately the team consisted of Hilton Berry (CCIM finance expert), Hobert Orton (LEED certified and all around sales man), Michael Stewart (architect), and myself. We all agreed because we would be forced to delegate sections of the project it would be very important that each member could single handily handle their individual task.
Our proposal was titled Hoover Village. Click Hoover Village PDF for pdf of our proposal. The proposal included the purchase and demolition of the entire building. We then proposed a multi use development that would include retail, dining, office, residential, and hospitality surrounding an open are public space that would he highlighted by a monument remember the former use of the space as home of the FBI. Although we were not 100% satisfied with the submittal, we hit “send” with six minutes left before the deadline.
We believed the project well represented Auburn University, but we were not expecting notification from MIT informing us that we had been selected into the semi-final round. Because of that, we were beyond excited when I received the email while in Australia (MRED International Trip) informing us that we needed to arrange hotel and travel plans to represent Auburn University on MIT’s campus in a few weeks!
Soon after we returned from Australia we booked flights and began to plan our trip to Boston to compete. Once there it did not take long to figure out that we had a big task if we were going to move from the semi-finals to the final rounds. Sitting at the opening meeting were representatives from the nations top institutions. Teams from Colombia, Cornell, Dartmouth, George Mason, Harvard, NYU, Rice, Univ. of Chicago, Univ. of Pennsylvania, and MIT were all present. It was clear the competition was now in full swing!
Although we were ultimately not chosen to compete for the finals I can say that Auburn’s MRED can hold its head high. The three teams that were chosen and had the opportunity to present in front of the MIT Global Real Estate Forum the following day were Georgetown, MIT, and Cornell University. Click here to watch the three final presentations. These three teams deserved to be there. Congratulations to Cornell for taking first place in the copetition!
Looking back, I am sure our group will remember this competition for a long time. Although the projects asked of us within the MRED program were challenging, our class knew that they had resources to their exposure and would be presenting in front of their peers. This competition was set up completely different. It was a big project with little resources at our exposure attached to an extremely small timeframe. Once in Boston it appeared the group did all they could to make the situation as awkward as possible. However, there is a lot to be said about the way they set up the process. If students will attempt to put themselves in the shoes of an entrepreneur and MIT in the shoes of venture capitalist or institutional lender it all starts to make perfect since. Only 12 teams made it to Boston. There were no bad projects there. They wanted to know who knew there project backwards and forwards and who ultimately believed in their project the most. After watching the finals it was clear that Cornell deserved to win the competition.
I would hope that Auburn continues to put together groups for this competition and ultimately win it one year. I think it would be great to walk off the stage at MIT chanting “SEC, SEC, SEC.”