So, who am I?
I am a 3rd year on the BSc Real Estate programme, and I recently represented the university in the Cornell Real Estate Case Competition European Regional Competition with my teammates pictured below left to right Jerome Mayer, Derek Yap, myself (Sarah Katherine Thorley), Tarun Mehta, Chris Pang, and Tiong Hong Seet.
What did we do for the heats?
For the heats we were provided with a case study of information regarding a development site in Berlin and we have to decide upon whether to finish the scheme or sell up and move on. We had to create cash flow models and conduct market research to find out what the best option might be. We then created a presentation and pitched this information to a panel of industry experts including the individual whose investment the case study was based on.
For the heats we were ranked within the top 2 teams in Europe and we were lucky enough to win a bursary from Cornell University to support the team in attending the international finals based in New York City.
How did we prepare for the finals in New York?
For the competition we were expected to decide upon a leasing decision for an asset by assessing all the available information. Again we were provided with a case study, this time in Madrid, and we had to use the information to create cash flow models and we had to conduct further market research to decide upon which of the 3 tenants suggested should be placed within the building. Same as before we prepared a presentation to pitch on the day.
What happened at the competition?
During the day, we had to pitch to a panel of industry judges which was very nerve-wracking. We then had to defend our decision in a round of challenging questions. The competition was fierce, and we were against 26 other teams. Unfortunately, we did not make it past the preliminaries into the final 6, but nonetheless we had a great time on the day and learnt a lot about property investment strategies!
What else did you do during the week?
We attended various site visits during the week.
We toured the World Trade Centre site with a representative from Silverstein Properties. We were shown the masterplan for the site and were able to appreciate how the new buildings have been designed to complement the poignant memorials of the original towers, and are bringing life back to this area of downtown Manhattan. We were also lucky enough to be able to visit a vacant floor within WTC Tower 4, which allowed us access to some of the best views in Manhattan (as seen below)!
Later in the week we were shown around the Hudson Yard development site (pictured below) by a Cornell graduate now employed at the firm, Related. The ground-up scheme is being built over a rail yard and is set to consist of over 16 skyscrapers. There are already office towers on the site that are occupied, but the residential blocks are still being built. Whilst we were there, work was happening on site to complete the new venue space and a large Heatherwick sculpture. This sculpture comprises of a set of staircases which will be open to the public to climb and appreciate the site.
Did you get to see any tourist sites?
We certainly made the most of being in Manhattan!
We walked Brooklyn Bridge (which is longer than you would expect!) and even caught a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty! On the same day, we headed to Wall Street to immerse ourselves in the financial hub.
We also walked 5th Avenue, window shopped and took a look at the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre and Trump Tower. We regularly had dinner in and around Times Square and experienced the overwhelming advertising boards, and also ate in China town.
After our visit to the Hudson Yards development, we took the opportunity to walk the High Line, which is a disused railway line turned public park! Finally, on the last day we took the chance to get a bit of fresh air and headed to Central Park for a relaxing walk around the lake. A lot of walking by all accounts, which was definitely required after all the American sized meals we consumed!