Jennifer Aragon, Owin Orr, Nick Allen, Derek Porterfield, Cody Bell and Karina Rush.

The task: develop a plan to turn a 40.5-acre site in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood into an innovative center where people can live, work and play. Six Daniels students were up for that task, suggesting that the property be transformed into an outdoor recreational industrial development, with vibrant amenities for employees, tenants, visitors and outdoor enthusiasts.

The team presented their solutions for the Denver Shops site to a 700-person audience at the Hyatt Regency, Convention Center May 2. Their ideas were so well-received, they won the 2019 Rocky Mountain Real Estate Challenge (RMREC) presented by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

“The NAIOP real estate challenge provides an absolutely incredible opportunity to network with and learn from top industry professionals,” said Nick Allen, a Master of Science in Real Estate and the Built Environment (MS REBE) candidate and associate architect for DU. “The dozens of people we worked with from the Denver real estate community were incredibly supportive and eager to donate their time and expertise to help our team.”

The Daniels team included: Daniels undergraduate Owin Orr, MBA students Jennifer Aragon and Cody Bell, and MS REBE students Nick Allen, Derek Porterfield and Karina Rush.

Rush, who graduates in June, said she learned a lot about real estate development and finance from this project. But, she’s most proud about the creation of a cohesive team.

“A project of this size, depth and time commitment require a lot of trust and effort across the team,” she said. “Our group was able to work collaboratively and put the project above any need to be right. I have no doubt that the camaraderie built within our team will last the duration of our careers.”

“The team did an incredibly thorough job of addressing the issues of the project site and came up with a thoughtful plan for redevelopment that maintained existing cash flow while implementing a creative solution to improve the site to a higher and better use that capitalized on the strengths of the Denver outdoor industry,” said Drew Mueller, assistant professor of real estate and construction management and the team’s coach. “Colorado real estate professionals have an open-door policy with our teams, and the students meet with top executives at the leading firms in the industry, many of whom are former RMREC competitors. This exposure and knowledge transfer creates an unparalleled experience in graduate education.”

DU has won 11 of the past 17 Rocky Mountain Real Estate Challenges against CU-Boulder. They took home a $7,500 cash prize and keep the trophy, which is passed back and forth to the winners each year.

”I feel very proud, very happy and relieved,” Allen said. “This experience will serve all of us very well in our careers. I also feel a huge amount of respect for all the teams from DU and CU that competed in this and produced tremendous work. It’s an honor to be in the company of the best and brightest from these two schools.”