Spire Development’s Third Space project wins MRED-REIAC/Rockefeller Group Challenge

2017 MRED-REIAC/Rockefeller Group Challenge winners are left to right, Kyle Trent, Anna Sepic and Jay Van Tassell. (Submitted photo by Carl Schultz)

Four teams of graduating students from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, Masters of Real Estate Development program competed for cash prizes in the Fourth Annual MRED-REIAC/Rockefeller Group Challenge recently held.

Spire Development won, garnering $1,000 each for the members, Anna Sepic, Jay Van Tussell and Kyle Trent, according to a press release. Spire Development’s winning project, Third Space, was a four-phased master plan that included multi-family space of 70 apartments, 50 flats, 43 lofts, 16 studios, and 13 townhomes; a new school for the arts; a restaurant; a gym; and retail, office, and community space.

Each team was allotted 10 minutes to present a development solution followed by questions from the audience. Audience members chose the winning team after the presentations, the release said.

“We really appreciate those in the industry, the mentors, and all the people who support the challenge,” said Mark Stapp, director of the MRED program, in a prepared statement. “This activity is as close as we can get to the actual business of making the pitch and getting the money.”

This year’s project consisted of a mixed-use development at Dorsey Lane and Apache Boulevard in Tempe, featuring six separate parcels including a new school for the arts; a retail center at the NWC of Dorsey and Apache; retail/office space at the NEC corner of Dorsey and Apache; and three parcels of vacant City of Tempe land.

Ms. Sepic said in a prepared statement that Spire was proud of the win. After discussions with the financial mentor, Joe Blackbourn of Everest Holdings, the team decided to go the realistic and feasible approach. Mr. Blackbourn taught them that real estate is not just about thinking of grand designs but understanding that a piece of property will “tell you what it should be.”

“The research showed a significantly depressed immediate demographic, high vacancy, as well as issues of crime and transients in the immediate area. Originally, we went with the bare minimum – what was feasible on the site with existing conditions. We met with various individuals including Mike and Casey Treadwell, Josh Simon, Pete TeKamp, Eric Brown, Ben Hall, Shelby Tworek, as well as our instructors from the MRED program. All gave us their expertise and pushed us to be as realistic as possible. Our biggest support was Joe (Blackbourn),” Ms. Septic stated in the release.

“Having various real estate experts through all the various industries who believed in the proposal and found our financial metrics and overall concept as viable,” said Ms. Sepic said of the greatest satisfaction of participating in the MRED-REIAC/Rockefeller Group Challenge. “We came a long way as a team and even more so through our own new learned skills as a result of this competition.”

Other finalists and their projects:

• Crescendo Development – The Beat on Dorsey, a project to attract tech-savvy millennials in a transit-oriented walkable environment with public art installations and 7,000 square feet of open pavilion space.

• Collage Development – Collage at Dorsey Station, a project that’s the “character and soul of a community; a project that inspires us,” according to the presenters. It features dining, retail, office, a school for the arts, and artist loft space.

• CED Development – Joule: An Innovation District. This master-plan design is intended to “build off the momentum of the light rail and Tempe streetcar.” It is designed for those in the trade classes, engineering, and software design. It features creative space, maker space, co-working space, row houses, condos and contemporary restaurants.

In addition to sponsoring the annual Challenge, REIAC awards two $2,500 scholarships to MRED students who have a financial need and want to pursue real estate careers in Arizona after they graduate.

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