Harvard teammatesThe Harvard Graduate School of Design won the 2010 MIT Boston Open, a real estate competition hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Real Estate Alumni Association and held this year at the Prudential Center during the ULI Real Estate Summit at the Spring Council Forum in the city. The competition, a case-based competition open to all U.S. real estate graduate programs, sought redevelopment schemes for a historic and challenging site in Boston. Finalists were invited to the city to compete and pitch their highest and best-use argument to a live audience and judging panel.

Taking second place in the competition was the New York University Schack Institute of Real Estate, and the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business placed third. The teams were judged by industry practitioners Phil Bakalchuk of Water Street Investments, Jeff Cushman of Cushman & Wakefield, Kathleen MacNeil of Millennium Partners, and Eric Nelson of the Bulfinch Companies.

The competition required teams to analyze a challenged but unique Boston site anchored by the Hayden Building and the Penang building in Boston’s Chinatown and Downtown Crossing neighborhoods. “The small scale and historic landmark status of the site posed a host of interrelated physical and economic challenges to its redevelopment,” said Harvard teammates Kristen Hunter, Ian Klein, and Elli Lobach. “Formulating an acquisition strategy required identifying viable programming options that could function within a tight building footprint and compete against forthcoming supply. The proposed uses also had to offer reasonable near-term financing prospects and sufficient risk-adjusted returns.

Each team’s submission was thorough, detailed, and creative, especially given the difficult aspects of the proposed property and the team’s understanding of the tight credit markets currently facing the development industry. All teams engaged highest and best-use analysis combined with sophisticated private/public financing schemes. It was the Harvard team’s innovative and creative submission addressing Boston’s need for student housing and a dynamic financing strategy that vaulted it into first place.

More than 50 people attended the event, including students, academicians, and practitioners. It was sponsored by Credit Tenant Capital, Cushman & Wakefield, the Bulfinch Companies, and Cabot Cabot & Forbes; Boston Properties provided the venue.

“The event was an overall success,” said Mike Lam, cochair of the open. “We accomplished what the alumni wanted to do: put together a world-class event to host graduate schools during the ULI Spring Council, and provide a venue for peer schools to showcase the industry’s future talent. We had interest from over ten schools, proving there is interest for an open-format real estate graduate competition. We look forward to making this a longstanding tradition moving forward.”