Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate students and mentors, from left, include Moritz Seban, MSRE 2024; Jon Dennis, faculty advisor and senior vice president of development at UrbanStreet Group; Patrick Sinwelski, MSRE 2023; Nick Ross, BSBA-RE 2023; Collete English Dixon, MBIRE executive director; Shawn Gregoire, MSRE 2023; and Nicolas Paviet, BSBA-RE 2023. (Credit: Photo courtesy of Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate)

Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate (MBIRE) was awarded first place in the graduate division of the 13th annual Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation Real Estate Challenge, which culminated with final presentations in April at the offices of Holland & Knight, 150 N. Riverside Plaza in Chicago.

Established in 2002, the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University (MBIRE) is a leading Chicago-based institution of higher learning offering master’s and undergraduate degrees as well as certificate programs in real estate. The Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation’s annual Real Estate Challenge matches teams from selected universities in a competition focusing on a high-profile development/redevelopment project in the Chicago Metropolitan area.

This year’s challenge tasked students with creating a redevelopment plan for two sites on the south end of Goose Island, a 160-acre artificial island in Chicago bordered by the North Branch of the Chicago River to its west and the North Branch Canal to its east.

MBIRE’s Catalyst Development team was among five graduate-level university teams to participate in the program. As the grand prize winner, the team will receive a scholarship of $5,000.

For the site at 934 N. Branch, the MBIRE team proposed “The Boatyard,” a new two-story building that would house a sports and entertainment destination spanning 105,250 square feet across two levels. The site would offer a riverwalk and access to the Chicago water taxi. The second floor would feature miniature golf on a 5,950-square-foot terrace. 

The 1001 N. Branch site featured a proposal from the MBIRE team called “The Anchor,” the redevelopment of the existing six-story building with a large restaurant known for its bright, airy beach house décor; a second restaurant and bar offering ping pong and shuffleboard; a commercial ghost kitchen; an urban farming business; a self-storage facility; and a luxury fitness club. It was proposed to replace the self-storage with office space after the market recovers.

MBIRE’s Catalyst Development team included three graduate students: Shawn Gregoire, MSRE 2023; Moritz Seban, MSRE 2024; Patrick Sinwelski, MSRE 2023; and two undergraduate students: Nicolas Paviet, BSBA-RE 2023; and Nick Ross, BSBA-RE 2023. 

“Creating feasible and engaging developments that would drive traffic to Goose Island and transform this industrial area into a new destination on the Chicago River while also serving the surrounding affluent, trendsetting communities could be challenging for even the most experienced of real estate pros, but our team eagerly dove into the process,” said Jon Dennis of UrbanStreet Group, who serves as an adjunct professor at MBIRE and advisor for the team. “These students worked incredibly hard on their development proposal and presentation, and I’m so proud to see them rewarded for their efforts. They now have a much better understanding of all the factors to consider in bringing a mixed-use development to a high-profile location. This competition really pushed their creative thinking, and I was so impressed with their vision for these sites.”

According to the Eisenberg Foundation, the winning plan is the most economically viable and complementary to the unique uses of the surrounding site. The Real Estate Challenge commences early each year and culminates in April when the student teams’ presentations are judged by a panel of professionals.