University of Colorado Boulder Takes Top Honors in Sixth Annual Colvin Case Study Challenge

By Maggie Haslam / Dec 16, 2021

National Competition Recognizes Excellence Among Emerging Professionals

Colvin Case Study Challenge 2021 winners
Image Caption
Pictured: Stacy Spann, Elizabeth Glenn,Pam Askew, Amber Hughes, Merrill Fung, Kimberly Faist, Karen McGrath, Thomas Gretz, Ezra Mcphail, Michael Mendoza, Sean Carter, Jonathan Baker, Kyle Duffy and Reed Bennett. Photo courtesy of Carrie Chard.

A mixed-use urban infill development project on a MLB stadium parking lot was a home run for three graduate students from the University of Colorado Boulder, earning them first place Saturday at the sixth annual Colvin Case Study Challenge. The team beat out an initial 21 entries and four semi-finalists from university programs across the nation in a juried, live competition at the University of Maryland.

“The teams this year were really talented and did a great job of showing off their knowledge and expertise of real estate development,” said Maria Day-Marshall, director of UMD’s Real Estate Development Program. “The judges were all in agreement about who the winner should be. Congratulations to the University of Colorado Boulder for an extraordinary presentation. Additionally, I am so proud of our team from the University of Maryland. Thomas Gretz was a one man show and he performed extremely well.”

Sponsored by the University of Maryland’s Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development, the Colvin Case Study Challenge is a national retrospective written case study competition that challenges teams to document a recent innovative real estate project within their own metropolitan region. Projects are judged blindly by leading real estate professionals on several criteria, including a depth of understanding of markets, project valuation, finance, urban design and sustainability, entitlement processes and operational issues.

This year’s winning entries offered judges a behind-the-scenes look at a diverse mix of development projects, from the unique to the hard-won. University of Colorado Boulder literally knocked it out of the park this year with the conversion of a parking lot into a mixed-use development. Part funding mechanism for the adjacent Coors Field, part homage to late Rockies president Keli McGregor, the presentation was unanimously awarded first place by the jury. Clemson University took second with Camperdown, the real estate success story of a mixed-use urban infill project in South Carolina that was plagued with issues throughout the development process—from site issues to the COVID-19 pandemic. University of Maryland graduate student Thomas Gretz, the only one-person team this year and just the second in the competition’s history, took third with the analysis of a waterfront luxury mixed-use project in Sarasota County, Florida.

Colvin Case Study Challenge 2021 Winners:

First Place: University of Colorado Boulder
Amber Hughes, Ezra McPhail, Michael Mendoza (Advisor: Craig Ferraro)
Project: McGregor Square

Second Place: Clemson University
Reed Bennett, Kyle Duffy, Kim Faist (Advisor: Robert Benedict)
Project: Camperdown

Third Place: University of Maryland
Thomas Gretz (Advisor: Catherine Ryckman)
Project: Waterside Place

Honorable Mention: Auburn University
Sean Carter, Jonathan Baker, Merrill Fung (Advisor: Jay Mittal)
Project: Alys Beach

In addition to gauging their understanding of the critical aspects of real estate development, the challenge also provides an opportunity for the students to glean feedback and counsel from experts in the industry, both through mentorship and jury interaction. This year’s jury comprised leaders in real estate development and education from across the country. The Colvin Institute thanks Elizabeth Glenn, Chair, US Africa Collaborative; Stacy Spann, CEO, MidCity; Pamela Askew, Senior Vice President of Development, McCormack Baron Salazar; and Karen McGrath Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Finance, Bucknell University, for serving on the 2021 jury.

“The Colvin Case Study Challenge is an opportunity for students to sharpen their skills and connect with some of the most seasoned experts in the country, and I can’t think of a better place for that to happen than at University of Maryland’s Colvin Institute,” said Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Dawn Jourdan.

The Case Study Challenge is named for the late Baltimore Developer John Colvin, who founded the Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development in 2008. The Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development supports the interdisciplinary approach of the University of Maryland’s Master of Real Estate Development curriculum, which comprehensively covers finance and capital markets, law and public policy, structure and site design, construction management, property, portfolio and asset management as well as marketing and commercial leasing. Learn more about the Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development.