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This blog is used to share information with alumni, students and friends of the UW Madison Real Estate and Urban Land Economics Program.


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2018 Scholarship and Award Recipients

Posted By Mandy Kaegy, Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association, Inc., Monday, April 2, 2018


The Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association is pleased to announce that recipients for the 2018 scholarships have been chosen!  Through the generous support of UW-Madison Real Estate Alumni and friends, WREAA is able to fund and administer four annual scholarships worth a total of $19,000.  Many thanks to the twenty alumni volunteers who donated their time and expertise to read and evaluate the scholarship applications and essays submitted by students.  Stayed tuned to the WREAA Network Blog as we spotlight these students in the coming week.

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Young Alumni Profile

Posted By David A. Walsh, Wednesday, March 28, 2018


In the latest installment of our Young Alumni Profile Feature, WREAA Social Media Ambassador, David Walsh, spoke with Paul Laughlin, Jr.  Paul is from Glencoe, Illinois, and completed his MBA in Real Estate at UW-Madison in May of 2017. Prior to becoming a Badger, Paul received a BA in Anthropology from Notre Dame in 2008 and worked in a few capacities including insurance and investment sales at the McTigue Financial Group (Northwestern Mutual) and commercial banking at MB Financial Bank. 

Where do you work now and what is your role?

I’m at Guardian Capital in Chicago, which is a boutique alternative investment company that makes investments across numerous asset strategies. We primarily specialize in real estate development and rehab, operating turnarounds, bank debt purchases, and bankruptcy sales. Last year I took on the responsibility of building out our public REIT investment platform, specializing in a secondary market investment strategy.  I would say I have a non-traditional role compared to most of my MBA classmates. Every day is unique, entrepreneurial, and fast-paced. I was looking for a career where I could build on both my development skills and AREIT skills, and my current job does just that.

What experiences from your time at UW are particularly memorable?

Between the Real Estate club and the MBA program, we went on a lot of trips including Atlanta; Dallas; New York; North Carolina; San Diego; Germany; Hong Kong; Macau; and MIPIM (Cannes, France). My family and friends often questioned if I was really in school or just traveling the world for a few years.

I was also on the AREIT team my second year and led research and investment in the data center and retail sectors. With Mike Brennan, Tim Pire, and Tim Riddiough providing us guidance (but no safety net), our team performed very well together, and we achieved our goal of beating the RMS benchmark—which during that period, most paid “professional” portfolio managers couldn’t do. I gained a lot from the AREIT experience, and that opportunity helped me find the job that I’m in now.

Also, during my second year in the MBA Program, I participated in the UNC Real Estate Case Competition with three other classmates. We got some sneers from opposing schools as those students discounted Wisconsin as just a “party school.” Then we ended up as event finalists and took 3rd overall out of 16 teams.

How has the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association (WREAA) helped advance your career?

People say the Wisconsin Real Estate program has a strong network, and that has proven true from when I started the program in August 2015 through today. The alumni are willing to help the students and show an eagerness to work together professionally. For example, I found my first job through Matt Bertram, an alumnus (and founder of Capital Slack). I had interviewed for a position at his old firm, Prudential Mortgage Capital, and although I didn’t receive an offer, Matt and I continued to talk throughout the school year. He wound up introducing me to a friend of his who I did some part time work for after graduation, and from there I was introduced to my current boss, Brian Duggan, who is also a Wisconsin alum. In Chicago there’s a strong concentration of real estate alumni. We have been involved in several deals at Guardian that involve more than one UW-Real Estate alum. I’m also excited to go back to Madison this fall for the Biennial and reconnect with former classmates and friends.

Do you have any advice for current undergrads or graduate students studying real estate at UW?

Network and meet with as many people as you can before you graduate. When I was at Wisconsin, I would sit down with Sharon McCabe at least once a week or browse the alumni directory and email people in the select cities I was interested in working in. I conducted several “informational interviews” with 75-80 alumni during my two years.  The alumni mentors with whom I was paired, helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses and match them with career opportunities that provided the best fit.
In addition, Rob Bond, a developer in Chicago who I met at a WREAA networking event, once suggested that its most important for new real estate graduates to learn to be strong underwriters. I think he said that if you’re very good at underwriting, you will be more marketable in your career search.

I would also suggest that students be open to and learn about a variety of roles. You can narrow your search as you get closer to finding a job or internship.

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Shapack Partners Presents to RE Club and Hosts Career Workshop

Posted By David Walsh, Greystar, Monday, March 19, 2018

On March 8th and 9th, UW undergrad and graduate real estate students were presented with the opportunity to learn from the Shapack Partners team. Thursday’s Real Estate Club meeting consisted of a presentation by CEO and Founder Jeff Shapack on Chicago’s Fulton Market District, which Shapack Partners is responsible for developing and branding. The importance of branding a neighborhood was one of Jeff’s primary lessons to attendees. Because of the manufacturing focus of the area prior to redevelopment, rebranding did not face the common hindrance of garnering support from neighbor residents. Shapack Partners did, however, need to convince the Mayor of the value in branding Fulton Market District.


Fulton Market District is part of Chicago’s West Loop and hosts a sampling of nearly every asset class, including office, multifamily, retail and hospitality. Not every new build is constructed to its maximum entitle density. One case study presented to attendees of the meeting was 185 N Morgan St., a one-story building with fast casual food options such as Shake Shack and Do-Rite Donuts. Jeff explained that in their opinion, it was more important for the health of the neighborhood that this affordable dining option opened quickly than construct to maximum density. Community members also requested a large event space in the area, which Shapack is incorporating in an upcoming office building as a convertible basketball court.


On Friday morning, the meeting was predominantly structured as Q&A time for students with Jeff and his team. Attendees learned about the responsibilities of all roles in the company, including analytics, legal counsel, architecture, and media. A common theme reiterated by members of Shapack Partners was that in this small firm, the role you were hired for is not your only responsibility. Instead, everyone is involved in many facets of the process.


It was also during this time that Jeff explained the role of art in Fulton Market District. Shapack Partners believes that if they have strong locations for their real estate, these are also prominent locations for artwork. They provide walls of their buildings as canvases for skilled neighborhood artists, which then are photographed and shared on social media. These opportunities help artists advance their careers while increasing community involvement. Shapack Partners also emphasized that they light the artwork extremely well at night which has the additional benefit of making the neighborhood safer.


Jeff Shapack and his team brought a very engaging and relevant presentation to Madison last week, and students who attended the events walked away with a deeper understanding of the creative aspect of real estate development. 

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RE Club Ships Up to Boston

Posted By David Walsh, Greystar, Wednesday, March 14, 2018


On February 28, close to thirty Real Estate Club undergraduates and grad students flew east to visit the booming Boston market for the spring club trip. Attendees were treated to an excellent line-up of networking events, meetings and tours over the two-day field trip, which was sponsored by the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association (WREAA). The first event was a cocktail reception on Wednesday evening with Boston area UW alumni at Post 390 in the Back Bay neighborhood. Alumni and retired UW-Real Estate Professor Stephen Malpezzi spent a few hours hearing about what the program and attendees are working on and sharing career advice for students as they graduate and pursue careers in real estate.


Thursday began with an overview of the City of Boston hosted by the Boston Planning and Development Authority in their City Hall model room. Attendees were introduced to the layout of the city, the history of its growth, and some of the challenges they are facing with continued growth. Following this meeting, club members visited Transwestern RBJ, which was acquired by CBRE just a few days prior. Their team provided a tour of the Boston office and spoke about their role and challenges in leasing office space in different neighborhoods of Boston.


Lunch was provided by AEW while numerous leaders of their firm went into depth regarding their specifications, fund strategies, and economic projections. This meeting was a highlight of the trip for many students because AEW took the time and resources to speak at length about many facets of real estate, from research to capital raising to core, non-core, value fund, and REIT management. Senior Joe Curtin said that what stuck out to him, “Was the amount and importance of research to their success as a company,” spanning global economic, political, and demographic trends. Thursday afternoon included an on-site meeting with a representative from Skanska’s Boston team at their new Seaport Boulevard development. Skanska has constructed three new buildings on this street in the last six years and was able to educate students about the timeline of growth in this newly popular area of Boston. Following this meeting, club members had free time to explore the city. Many went to the Harvard campus to explore, while others chose to explore the shopping options of the city. Thursday evening culminated in a tasty dinner in the North End neighborhood, best known as Boston’s Little Italy, with UW alumni.


Friday morning, club members heard from Sarah LaGosh, Managing Director at Eastdil Secured. Sarah provided insight into the capital markets and recent transactions that Eastdil has been involved with in the Boston area. Afterwards, the club visited Newmark, VMD Companies, and Atlantic Management at the Newmark office to learn about the acquisition of the Necco factory and what makes the industrial property unique.  Because of the Nor’easter crushing Boston with high winds and rain on Friday, many attendees had flights back to Wisconsin cancelled. The team quickly adapted and found a bar showing the Wisconsin vs Michigan State Men’s Basketball game, and then spent the evening enjoying good company, conversation, and views of the Boston skyline generously hosted by the Capobianco family. Some participants stayed for the weekend as planned, others had unplanned extended stays, and two students even drove a rented car back from Boston. By Monday, everyone had returned safely to Madison with an appreciation for the Boston real estate market and new relationships with Badger alumni.


Thank you to all the Alumni, faculty, club leadership, and the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association (WREAA) for their generous donation of time, connections, and resources for making this trip possible.   A big shout out as well to alums Jacob Maliel (MBA ‘08) and Jill Hatton (MS ‘82) who helped to organize this outstanding student trip.

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Dean Shapiro, Oxford Properties Group, Presents to RE Club on Hudson Yards Development

Posted By David Walsh, Greystar, Monday, February 26, 2018

On Thursday, February 22, Dean Shapiro of Oxford Properties Group presented to the Real Estate Club regarding his involvement in the development of Hudson Yards in New York City. Attendees were first introduced to the concept of Hudson Yards, a 28-acre mixed use development in downtown Manhattan situated above a functional rail yard. The new neighborhood would be built on top of a platform over the still active rail yard. The city had been contemplating a development on this site for several years in conjunction with different developers before Oxford Properties and The Related Companies were ultimately chosen to follow through on the idea. Mr. Shapiro remarked that because this land was solely a rail yard prior to the redevelopment, there was no substantial opposition of their efforts.


Mr. Shapiro then explained the linkages that make Hudson Yards such a spectacular location. These include the Hudson River Park, the extension of the subway to the new Number 7 Station, and perhaps most notably, the High Line. The High Line is a heavily trafficked elevated green space in Manhattan that leads to the Hudson Yards development. Hudson Yards is also ideally located between expanding popular neighborhoods.


Finally, Mr. Shapiro spoke on the space created at Hudson Yards. The development is coming online in phases, with the commercial component in the east being constructed and leased first. The western half will include the residential space, and half of the total land area will be open space by requirement. To resolve a unique challenge, the tree wells need to be refrigerated because diesel engines from trains below produce heat that is toxic to plant life. Mr. Shapiro also shed light on procuring financing for the development, and the tenants who are moving into the office space. Hudson Yards is attracting major tenants because of the opportunity for firms to be influential in the design of the space as it is constructed, and the nontraditional office space modeled for the millennial workforce.


Thank you to Mr. Shapiro for presenting to the Real Estate Club, and if you would like to know more about the Hudson Yards development, please visit hudsonyardsnewyork.com.

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UW MBA's Place 2nd in Prestigious UNC-Chapel Hill Challenge

Posted By Mandy Kaegy, Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association, Inc., Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Updated: Monday, February 19, 2018


UNC-Chapel Hill Challenge Team (shown above from L to R) includes Luke Voss (MBA 2018),

Nick Brown (MBA 2018), John Bezouska (MBA 2018) and Nick Mussatti (MBA 2018).


UW-Madison was among sixteen formidable teams from the top MBA programs in the United States and Europe invited to participate in the UNC-Chapel Hill Real Estate Development Challenge last week. 


Case competition advisor, Arif Qureshi, assembled the final team from the top performers of two internal case competitions in his RE750 class.  The team, John Bezouska (MBA 2018), Nick Brown (MBA 2018), Nick Mussatti (MBA 2018), and Luke Voss (MBA 2018), received the case on February 8th, and had six days to complete their presentation. 


The team developed a feasibility proposal for a 2.2-acre site in Washington D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood. Their proposal encompassed 465K SF of mixed use multifamily, affordable housing, retail and hotel, financed with a mortgage, REIT equity and managing partner developer equity. The project delivered cash on cash return of 10% and 18% IRR, while providing a risk mitigation strategy from acquisition to exit.


The final presentation was given to a panel of judges both on Thursday morning, and then again Thursday afternoon, once the team reached the final four.  The UW-Madison team placed second to home team Kenan-Flagler Business School (UNC), in a field that also included Columbia Business School, Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley), Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern), The Wharton School (U Penn) and Tuck School of Business (Dartmouth).


Congrats to all!

Tags:  Case Competitions 

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Innovator Award Presented to Bob White, Real Capital Analytics

Posted By David Walsh, Greystar, Monday, February 12, 2018

Bob White with RE Club Presidents


Thursday night, February 9, the Wisconsin Real Estate Club and Walker and Dunlop presented the 2018 Innovator Award to Bob White, Founder and President of Real Capital Analytics, Inc. Mr. White spent 14 years in real estate investment banking and brokerage before making the decision to bring quantitative information to the markets through increased transaction transparency.


Real Capital Analytics currently reports on transactions in 172 countries around the world and produces a Capital Trends report for global as well as specific markets. When the latest recession occurred, and transactions slowed, Mr. White pivoted his company’s focus to report on troubled assets. Mr. White and his company are continuing to innovate by aggregating new data for use by industry professionals. For example, Mr. White showed students a visual depiction of the development cycle in Madison, Wisconsin. Through this style of reporting, users of Real Capital Analytics can see transactional history in the area as well as new development being planned and constructed.


Attendees also enjoyed insight to what Mr. White has been extracting from his data, which lead to discussions about the booming industrial sector and growth in the Chinese real estate market. Mr. White reminded students that commercial real estate is a global industry, and we will all be influenced by markets of cities around the world. To illustrate this, Mr. White showed a graph charting price changes in the hottest markets of the world relative to each other.


To paraphrase Professor Stephen Malpezzi, we have tradition today because we had innovation in the past. This was a well-attended and enjoyed event to recognize innovation in the real estate industry. Congratulations to Bob White on receiving this award and many thanks to him for his willingness to share his knowledge with University of Wisconsin real estate students. 


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REC Learns from a Panel of Young Professionals

Posted By Emmet Gaffney, Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing, Thursday, December 28, 2017



On Thursday, December 7th, the Real Estate Club hosted an impressive group of young real estate professionals, all of whom have experienced early career success, to come speak at the final club meeting of the year. The panel featured Teddy Gates of CBRE, Scott Belskey of JLL, Curran Darling of Distribution Realty Group, and Drew Johnson of Hickory Street Capital.


The panelists had a breadth of knowledge and experience across the major property types, and were talking specifically about how to succeed as a young professional in real estate. Major points of discussion included connecting with peers in the industry, taking advantage of networking opportunities, and keeping your ears and eyes open. Speaking to a packed crowd of undergraduates and graduates, the panelists gave a great session that felt very accessible to the club members.


After the meeting, the club hosted elections and, after a few closely contested races, the new executive board for the Spring 2018 semester was chosen. A special congratulation to incoming Co-Vice Presidents Hans Helland and Matthew Allard. After the final meeting, the club members and panelists celebrated the semester at the Kollege Klub.


Thanks to Fordy and Grady for a phenomenal semester and we’re excited for the spring semester with Nick and Bethany! Please don’t hesitate to contact the club Co-Presidents Nick (nbrown29@wisc.edu) and Bethany (bcorbae@wisc.edu) with any questions about the club, and be sure to check out www.realestateclub.org for more information. 


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Graaskamp on the Road, Chicago

Posted By Emmet Gaffney, Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing, Thursday, December 7, 2017


This past Thursday, November 30th Badger real estate alumni, students, and sponsors gathered in Chicago for the latest installment of Graaskamp on the Road series. The event, held at the Chicago Cubs front office building at Wrigley Field, saw Tom Ricketts, owner of the Chicago Cubs, receive the Graaskamp Building Communities award for his work on revitalizing the Wrigleyville neighborhood since his acquisition of the storied baseball franchise in 2009.


After accepting the award, Mr. Ricketts spoke to the crowd about his tenure at the Cubs, focusing on how he rebuilt the franchise on the field, and, simultaneously, has worked to develop the area immediately surrounding the park into a dynamic urban neighborhood. The goal, Mr. Ricketts elaborated, was to make Wrigleyville into a thriving destination even when there aren’t Cubs games being played. With the development of the Cubs’ front office building and the new Hotel Zachary, coupled with programming in the adjoining park such as yoga, concert series, and ice-skating, Mr. Ricketts and the rest of his team have begun to re-create a sense of community. Moreover, the Cubs’ have given back to the City of Chicago, and have donated over $25 million to build baseball fields across the metropolitan area and serve under-privileged communities through charity.


The following Friday, December 1st, the group was given an opportunity to tour the under-construction Wrigley Field, where major renovations are being made to enhance the fan experience. The development team has done a fine job balancing the history held in the bones of Wrigley with contemporary design concepts.


The event was sponsored by the Graaskamp Center for Real Estate, the UW Real Estate Club and the Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni Association in partnership with Zeller Realty Group, Oxford Capital Group, Stantec, Brennan Investment Group, AMLI Residential, Colliers, and Elmdale Partners for sponsoring the event. Additionally, major thanks to Real Estate Club Co-President Fordy Gates (MBA ’18) for helping coordinate the event!


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Student Spotlight

Posted By Emmet Gaffney, Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing, Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Bethany will serve as Co-President of the real estate club beginning in January 2018.  As an undergraduate, Bethany attended Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts where she earned her BA in Philosophy. She is from Austin,Texas.


Experience in RE


Q: Have you had any internships in RE?

A: This summer I worked at Invesco with the Acquisitions team.


Q: Tell me about some of your achievements in RE

A: Today I am a member of the AREIT team, which actively manages a portfolio invested in equity REITs. I am the teaching assistant for the introductory undergraduate real estate class, originally taught by Graaskamp, and I have greatly enjoyed that. Next semester I will be co-President of the Real Estate Club, currently I serve as co-VP.


Academic Questions


Q: What have been your favorite RE classes?

A: My real estate equity investment course drew me to the AREIT team. Real estate finance is the first course MBA students take in the department, so it will always hold a special place for me – I learned so much. Professor Yavas kept us laughing, too.


Q: Have you been involved in any projects, such as case competitions, appraisal projects, urban housing development projects?

A: We are in the middle of a particularly interesting affordable housing development assignment for our Urban Land Economics course. Professor Luque has put together such a comprehensive project that combines classroom knowledge with real-world sites and means of financing – it feels very hands-on. Our team has had a lot of fun creating our proposal.


Q: If you still have some time until graduation, what are you most looking forward to?

A: Our final AREIT Board Meeting in the spring! Regardless of the outcome, it will feel very rewarding.


Involvement Outside of the Classroom


Q: Are you a member of WREAA?

A: Currently I am a student member.


Q: How has your WREAA membership been beneficial to you?

A: WREAA is where I found the opening for my internship this summer.


Q: How long have you been a member of the Real Estate Club?

A: I have been a member of the Real Estate Club since starting the program in September 2016.


Q: Tell me about your significant experiences in REC

A: The most significant benefit from the Real Estate Club, in my mind, is the opportunity to hear from industry leaders at the club meetings. I have not yet come across a speaker that wasn’t excited to speak to the students, to share stories, to offer advice – and generally these talks are more candid, and more helpful, than run-of-the-mill conference-type keynotes. I remember being very impressed by it at my first meeting.




Q: What’s do you do when you’re not focused on RE? Do you have any hobbies?

A: I really love when you’re busy enough that the first answer that comes to mind when you hear this question is sleeping. Besides that, I love to travel, cook and exercise. I was a swimmer through college, so when the weather permits swimming outside –  that’s my favorite.


Q: What’s your favorite movie or book?

A: I grew up in the golden age of J.K. Rowling, so I always have to include the Harry Potter series in my favorite books answer. Today, I’m really enjoying the new detective series that she writes under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In was also a very important read for me as I was considering business school.


Q: What’s your favorite city? Where do you want to work after school?

A: Don’t make me choose! Austin, Boston, Portland, Chicago, NYC… Ultimately, though, I’m looking to work in Chicago post-graduation. I’ll just have to toughen up for that weather.


Q: What business line within RE do you think you want to go into?

A: I had a great experience at my internship this summer, so near-term my goal is a position in investment analysis on the acquisitions side that sets me on a long-term path to portfolio/client management. 


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