Buildings and bowling in Buzz City

Undergrad RE trek to Charlotte1Members of the Undergraduate Real Estate Club participated in an educational and eventful career trek to Charlotte, totaling 2 property tours and 7 company visits. For many club members, the trek represented an introduction to the ever-evolving Charlotte market, a chance for first-time trek participants to a establish connection with the greater Tar Heel alumni network and an opportunity to gain firsthand insight into a diverse set of real estate career opportunities.

The trek opened with a tour to The Moser Group, an entrepreneurial development shop south of Charlotte in Indian Trail, NC. Dennis Moser, president and founder of The Moser Group, showed us a variety of projects he is currently working on and explained how each project enhanced the community in a special way. For students on the trek, Dennis Moser’s commitment to the Indian Trail community and entrepreneurial spirit were key takeaways from the time at The Moser Group.

That evening, we attended a local alumni function at the Charlotte City Club. The well-attended event was a testament to the size and enthusiasm of the greater Tar Heel real estate network. We capped off the night by bowling at Park Lanes, where Amanda Thompson (BSBA ’15) handily outplayed the guys!

The following morning, we toured the newly renovated Park Road Shopping Center. At Caribou Coffee, EDEN’s Catherine Bickford (UNC ’05) explained the company’s vision to maintain a strong sense of community in this family-oriented shopping center, while also creating a nightlife atmosphere. After the discussion, Ms. Bickford led us through the shopping center’s new storefront, walkways and landscaping.

Our next meeting was with Brian Richards (MBA ’07) of Beacon Partners. Mr. Richards provided us with a tremendous overview of Beacon’s current industrial and office projects and explained the investment firm’s goal of creating an institutional quality office portfolio in Charlotte.

At Grubb Properties, we had lunch with Clay Grubb, Rob Haywood (MBA ’14), Todd Williams, David Klepser (MBA ’06) and Kay Allen. The group’s collective planning, development, investment and property management experiences underscored the potential real estate career paths for trek participants. We were then treated to hearing the entertaining and thoughtful stories, lessons and strategies of Clay Grubb’s career and his firm’s recent evolution in creating a commercial property division.

For our next meeting, we drove downtown to CBRE’s new office and met with David Hartzell Jr., research coordinator for CBRE’s Charlotte office, Harris Ralston, Nate Sittema and Matt Smith, and learned about real estate capital markets, market research and investment sales. CBRE’s platform gave us a broad exposure to the Charlotte market and keyed us in on the growth the market is currently experiencing.

Finally, we met the MBA Real Estate Club at TIAA-CREF’s remarkable Concord campus, which is home to 5,550 of the company’s more than 9,900 employees. Trek participants were introduced to the firm’s equity and debt platforms, as well as a new office tower development called Five Oaks Plaza near The Galleria in Houston, Texas. At the conclusion of the meeting, club members talked with recent UNC Kenan-Flagler graduates Alex Fleming (BSBA ’14) and Dennis Kuzmich (BSBA ’14) about their new positions.

By David Valenstein (BSBA ’16)