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NAIOP SoCal LA Real Estate Challenge

NAIOP SoCal LA Real Estate Challenge

First All-Female Team Wins NAIOP SoCal Silver Shovel

By Kelsi Maree Borland  |  March 10, 2021 at 04:00 AM

UCLA took home this year’s Silver Shovel at the annual NAIOP SoCal USC vs. UCLA Real Estate Challenge, which featured teams from the Ziman Center of Real Estate at UCLA’s Anderson School of Business and the Lusk Center at USC’s Marshall School of Business and Price School of Public Policy. The UCLA team included Sana Jahani, Kelly Kaine, Davana Linkon-Fryzer, Christina Moller and Songyi Wang, marking the first time in the event’s 23-year history that an all-female team won the challenge.

The two teams were tasked to present a proposal for the redevelopment of an 8.3-acre Greyhound Bus Terminal site located at the entrance to the Arts District and adjacent to several significant redevelopment projects in downtown Los Angeles. The property is owned by Prologis. “The most challenging aspect of this year’s project was balancing the needs of the transforming Arts District with Prologis’ core competency of developing industrial real estate,” Davana Linkon-Fryzer, MBA Candidate in the class of 2021 at UCLA Anderson School of Management, tells

The UCLA team proposed repositioning the site into The Greenlight Studios, a large-scale, ground-up studio development in Downtown LA, one of the first in 20 years. The concept included eight studio sound stages with 150,000 square feet of support space and parking. “Our panel of 13 industry-leading judges from all segments of commercial real estate were impressed by the creativity and content of both the USC and UCLA presentations,” Eric Paulsen, NAIOP SoCal 2021 Real Estate Challenge chair, tells “They each approached the challenge from a different perspective. The UCLA team put together a solid presentation with a concept that resonated with the judges and the property owner. It was truly a merit-based victory for UCLA. They firmly believed in their project and every team member was well prepared for the judges’ Q&A session and it showed. They should be especially proud of taking home the Silver Shovel.”

By chance, the UCLA team featured all women, while the USC team featured only men. “We did not plan on this year being a female vs. male competition. It all came together serendipitously, even down to the honorary team captains being female and male,” says Paulsen. “While one of the judges asked us if it was intentional, the fact is that the schools selected their own teams from volunteers.  This really tells us the industry is becoming more diverse—and it’s happening at all levels, even within the universities that are teaching the next generation. It’s an exciting evolution for our industry and we will all benefit from it.”

The event is typically held in November, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately, it was held virtually. “For the first time our students pre-recorded their presentations versus presenting live to an audience of more than 200 people, so their preparation and presentation styles were different,” says Paulsen. “Going forward, I could see us combining portions of live and online for maximum benefit to students, judges, and the audience. Another fun feature is that by hosting the event virtually, we were able to include the audience and give them a bigger role in the voting process.”

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