On our first day, we had the opportunity to meet with Jeremiah McCrory from Batson-Cook Construction at their Skyhouse development in Charlotte, scheduled to be delivered in May 2015. Batson-Cook and Novare have partnered on over 11 Skyhouse towers around the southeast, occasionally partnering with local developers on individual projects. In Charlotte, their partner is Grubb Properties. Jeremiah told us how building essentially the same building over again in different cities has allowed Batson-Cook to streamline its construction process, saving time and money for the firms involved. The site we visited in Charlotte is a 24-story tower with 336 units that they are scheduled to build in just 62 weeks.
On our first night, the Wood Center partnered with the MBA Real Estate Club to host a reception at the Charlotte City Club. The evening offered current MBA and undergraduate students the opportunity to network with local alumni working in the real estate industry. Scott Colbentz and Mike Owens were big part of getting the word out to local alumni, and we had a great turnout for the event.
The next morning, Win Kelly (MBA ’12) and Al Lindemann hosted our group at FCA Partners, who hosted our group and talked about the company’s recent spinoff from Faison and several of the projects they are working on throughout the southeast. One of the highlights for our group was revisiting a retail project in the Buckhead area of Atlanta that Win had previously introduced to students on the 2013 trek.
After our meeting with FCA, the group walked over to Childress Klein, where Sunil Devarakonda (MBA ’13) gathered several of the firm’s senior partners to give a presentation on the different ways Childress Klein invests in real estate. We had the opportunity to talk in depth about their Waverly project, a mixed-use joint venture development with Crosland Southeast and Terwilliger Pappas.
Our last downtown stop was with Bank of America Corporate Workplace, where we were given a presentation and tour by Scott Foster, David Dillard, Alan Ngo, Rusty Hodgson (MBA ’07), and Hampton Barclay (MBA ’13). Scott and David gave us an overview of Bank of America’s real estate strategy and the corporate real estate sector in general, then took us to the top floor of the new 1 Bank of America Center, the newest addition to their downtown office complex.
After lunch, we drove out to the university area to tour Crescent’s Alexander Village, a garden-style apartment project. Jed Byrne (MBA ’14) showed us around the clubhouse, amenity space and pool deck, while their on-site property management team took us through 1 and 2-bedroom model units. Jed also gave us an overview of the surrounding area and his role within Crescent’s multi-family development division.
For our last meeting of the day, we were joined by several members of the Undergraduate Real Estate Club at TIAA-CREF. Marc Debree (MBA ’07) and several of his colleagues gave us an overview of how TIAA-CREF invests in both the debt and equity sides of commercial real estate. One of the projects we learned about was Five Oaks Plaza, located near The Galleria in Houston, TX. Some of the 2nd year MBA students had visited this project the previous spring on our Dallas and Houston-centered Texas spring career trek, highlighting what a small world the real estate industry is.
Many thanks to our real estate alums, who make this trip so educational and never cease to amaze us with their generosity of time and knowledge.
By Mason Ellerbe (MBA ’15)