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Saul McDonald

Real Estate Club Receives Warm Welcome in Austin, Texas

by Saul McDonald Thursday, March 26, 2015

On March 4th the Wisconsin Real Estate Club headed to Austin, Texas for its spring field trip. Both MBA and undergraduate students spent three days in Texas’ capital city networking, learning, and, most importantly, having fun.

The trip began with a networking reception and dinner coordinated by WREAA’s Austin alumni group. The three-hour reception gave students a great opportunity to converse with alumni about one the nation’s most dynamic real estate markets.

On the second day of the trip, students participated in six meetings throughout downtown Austin, including tours of historic buildings and meetings with prominent Austin real estate firms.  The group started the day by learning the layout of the city via a four-hour downtown tour. Later in the day, the group toured newly constructed office and residential buildings located in the heart of the city. The height of the day was a meeting with the CIM Group, a full service urban real estate and infrastructure fund manager that is redeveloping a large part of downtown. The club toured the Seaholm Power Plant development site, which will include a mix of 143,151 square feet of office space, 280 high-rise condos, 48,363 square feet of retail shops and restaurants, and meeting space; all surrounding a dramatic and accessible plaza. Second-year MBA student Duffy Phelps noted his enthusiasm about the site, “My favorite meeting was the Seaholm Power Plant development which provided a great example of how a city can work together with a private developer to bring a dormant site back to life in a grand scale.”

REC Austin, TXThe final day of the trip included a tour of the downtown JW Marriot Hotel, Historic Rainey Street, and the tallest residential building in Texas, the Austonian. In addition to tours and meetings, the club members got to eat Texas BBQ at the world renowned Salt Lick restaurant.  

Overall, the Austin trip was an incredible experience for real estate students and its impact is best summarized by Duffy Phelps, “Austin was an outstanding city to visit. With over 100 people moving into the city each day, there is incredible economic growth that has spurred unbelievable real estate development across all asset classes. There is an interesting mix of adaptive reuse and new construction and the club was lucky to have great hosts who showed us great examples of it all.”

Saul T. McDonald graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business-Economics and Africa Studies. After graduation, Saul worked at Walker & Dunlop (W&D), a commercial real estate finance firm, where he started out as an Analyst assisting underwriters in their credit review. Within two years, he was quickly promoted to Senior Analyst and subsequently to Underwriter. Saul is now a 2nd year MBA student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s, James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. During his MBA Summer Internship, Saul worked for Four Points LLC, a Washington, D.C. Mixed Use Developer. At Four Points Saul was responsible for creating financial models for potential developments, interviewing 3rd party management companies for potential hiring, and helping with the creation of investment presentations.