Twenty-nine real estate students traveled to Atlanta, GA, October 19-21, for the fall 2016 Real Estate Club trip. The non-stop schedule began Wednesday night, at the Skyline Park, the rooftop amusement park at the recently redeveloped Ponce Market. WREAA members welcomed students, as we chatted on the vitality of the city’s real estate market and enjoyed the view before turning in for Tuesday’s action packed day. Josh Lettiere, a junior in the program, took the time to network with everyone, “I think it's really valuable to network with the local alumni, but it's equally helpful to develop connections with the people in the club.”
We were back at Ponce Market for coffee at 7:30am where we met in the offices of Jamestown, the owners and developers of the building. Matt Bronfman, the private equity firm’s CEO gave a brief overview of the organization, and walked us through a few major projects. It was exciting to learn about the many projects the firm has completed over the years, and most students really appreciated the financial details. We now know the financial stakes necessary to realize a project of such magnitude. Andrew Berger (BBA 2011) and John Fredericks (BBA 2014), Jamestown employees and UW alums then gave tours of the 2.1 million square foot building housing retail, residential, and commercial spaces.
Leaving Ponce Market, we continued our tour along the Atlanta Beltline, the 22-mile ring around the central business district being redeveloped to provide running paths, street cars, and will spur economic development, with alum Jay McGinnity (BBA 2004) of Perennial Properties. Jay walked us through 755 North, a multi-family development that commands some of the highest rents in the city. We’d meet Jay later that night at another of Perennial’s developments in a different neighborhood, showcasing the firm’s successes across the city.
Tyler Edgarton (BBA 1987) took the lead of the group to a few of his firm, Raulet Property Partners’ redevelopments. These projects shared a similar aesthetic, with aged exterior bones intact, while completely modernizing the interiors, with that open, collaborative spaces top tech tenants are seeking.
While visiting tangible developments is what we, as future real estate professionals, enjoy seeing, we did spend an hour speaking with city planners to learn how the city was dealing with its incredible growth. The relationships between the builder and planner is crucial in any city, and it’s good to understand the government needs before we develop. Elizabeth Krueger, a senior said she “knew Atlanta was a big city, but I didn't expect there to be so much activity going on. I liked seeing what real estate developments were going on the city. So much development these days involves one project with a variety of components like retail, residential, office, etc. all combined into one property such as the Ponce City Market and the Atlanta Braves new stadium. That was definitely apparent in Atlanta.”
For most students, the highlight of the trip came Friday morning, as we got to explore the $1.6B development of the new SunTrust Park, future home of the Atlanta Braves. The active construction site, with 2,000 plus workers will be home to multi-family apartments, parking structures, and restaurants and retail spaces in addition to the ballpark. This is one of the largest construction projects in the country at the moment, and our tour guide, construction manager Ron Grunwald of JLL was very patient letting us take as many photos as we wanted at the development site.
We we headed back to Madison, Dan Hanson, a second-year MBA student said “The Real Estate Club trip to Atlanta was a great experience. We were privy to an inside look at the front end of several industrial to creative office/mixed use conversions and heard the value creation story from the respective developers.” The city for next semester’s official real estate club trip has not been finalized, but there is no doubt that it will be tough to beat the hospitality the Atlanta WREAA members showed, and the total awesomeness of the many sites we visited. A special thanks to: Tyler Edgerton of Raulet Property Partners, Jay Mcginnity of Perennial Properties, and WREAA.