College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Business Students Plan Redevelopment of Cabrini Green in Chicago


From left: Taylor Douell, Jenna Goebig, Connor Matthews, Briana Dunne, Kyle Pietila, Cheng Wang, and Matt Lesh

Illinois MBA and undergraduate students competed and won as a team against students from DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Indiana University and Marquette University in the first annual Midwest Real Estate Challenge in Chicago. Students were tasked with a case based on redeveloping the Cabrini Green public housing site on the north side of Chicago.

Each team submitted extensive documentation including economic and financial analyses, a redevelopment plan, and a design proposal based on research and interviews with Chicago-area professionals. The Illinois team focused on including and integrating all levels of income in the property, transforming the site into a thriving development and sustaining the project socially, economically, and environmentally.

Judges from Crain’s Chicago Business, Mercy Housing Lakefront, and LL Consulting chose the Illinois team for their realistic mixed-use proposal that included Target as an anchor and for going beyond the specific requirements outlined in the case.

The competition, held on Saturday, April 9, 2011, was hosted by the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation at the Union League Club of Chicago.

The ILLINOIS team was comprised of students Taylor Douell ‘12, Briana Dunne’11, Jenna Goebig ’12 MBA (’09 Architecture), Matt Lesh ‘11 MBA, Connor Matthews ‘12, Kyle Pietila ‘11 MBA, and Cheng Wang ‘11 MSF.

Douell was very pleased with his team’s effort and the benefits gained from it, “I learned more from this case study than I have in all my classes.”

Lesh, the team leader, enjoyed the challenges of the competition and working with the many people who contributed, “You cannot place a value on the real world experience and exposure to industry experts that we obtained through working on this case.”

The ILLINOIS team was rewarded with a $4,000 scholarship as well as tickets to the Harold E. Eisenberg Annual Dinner in the Fall.

Lesh and his teammates asked that the several ILLINOIS alumni, their faculty advisor, and four advisors assigned by the Eisenberg Foundation who contributed to the team’s submission be noted:

Tom Amato, Director of Due Diligence, Real Estate Counselors International, Inc.
William Barry ‘77, Senior Vice President, Commercial Mortgage Production, Draper and Kramer
Jeff Berta (’88 ’90 ARCH), Senior Director of Real Estate Development, Structured Development
Paul Bryant, Principal, Mid-America Real Estate Corporation
Roger Cannaday, Associate Professor Emeritus of Finance, ILLINOIS
Al Klairmont (’78 LAS), President, Imperial Realty Company
Dave Cocagne (’00 LAS), President and CEO, Vermillion Development Corporation
Benet Haller, Director of Urban Design and Planning, City of Chicago
Fred Heichman, V.P. Leasing and Director, Inland Real Estate Corporation
Greg Karczewski, Managing Director, Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc.
Jim Kutill ‘78, Vice President, Appraisal Research Counselors
Tracy Larrison ‘97, Senior Vice President, PNC Financial Services
Steve Leonard, President, Strategic Real Estate Services
Gary Litvin, Managing Director, Horizon Realty Services, Inc.
James Matanky (’85 LAW), President, Matanky Realty Group

From left: Connor Matthews, Gary Litvin, Jenna Goebig, Matt Lesh, Taylor Douell

For more coverage:

Student Life Blog: Matt Lesh talks about the competition
Press release from the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation
U of I Student Proposal for Target Store at Cabrini Green Wins Competition

UIUC College of Business