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February 25, 2024
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Chapman University Defeats UCI in NAIOP SoCal’s Inaugural OC Real Estate Challenge


Students from the George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics at Chapman University successfully competed against a team from the University of California, Irvine to develop a winning land use proposal for a site in Anaheim. This was NAIOP SoCal’s first head-to-head real estate competition in Orange County.

Orange County’s top graduate programs were challenged to determine the highest and best use of multiple parcels totaling a 6.9-acre site in North Downtown Anaheim. Chapman’s team winning plan, Pearson Village, honored the history of the site and embraced the heritage and local businesses in the area.

Student teams had four weeks to prepare their proposals, which were presented to the property owner, Bill Taormina, a panel of commercial real estate industry and public sector judges, and an audience of industry guests at Chapman University. The winning team created and presented the most feasible and financially rewarding redevelopment plan.

The Chapman team presented Pearson Village as a “unique place that is rooted in the history of Anaheim” – an integrated mixed-use development that is a community and regional destination focused and promoting the cultural, artistic and civic center of the City.

“The OC Real Estate Challenge was a unique opportunity to bring greater awareness to the talent of these outstanding students and Universities. While NAIOP SoCal has long celebrated the USC vs UCLA rivalry, this new challenge showcased the strong expertise and growth of the real estate programs at UCI and Chapman University that are creating the next generation of industry leaders in Orange County. The atmosphere at this inaugural challenge was electric and established great momentum for the future." said David Salisbury, NAIOP SoCal OC Real Estate Challenge Chair.

“Bringing an industry-recognized challenge to Orange County, demonstrates the quick rise of Chapman’s MS in Real Estate program in the real estate space, with industry leaders, and within NAIOP,” said Chris Lowe, Director of the Masters of Real Estate Program at Chapman. “We are delighted to showcase some of our amazing students, hand-selected to compete head-to-head against UCI. They did a phenomenal job and I’m so happy the judges recognized their talent, creativity and leadership by presenting them with the first Orange Cup”.

In recognition of the new rivalry, Chapman and UCI competed for the Orange Cup, rather than the USC/UCLA Silver Shovel. Winning that cup from Chapman’s Master of Science in Real Estate Program was Isabella Zelinger, Asher Friedman, Darrah Shaygan, Robert Bond, and Cole Fleming. Team advisors included Perry Schonfeld, Chris Lowe and Alex Hayden; while Jolene Haley and Jim Dusserre served as the team administrators. Real estate professional Christine Carpenter is the NAIOP Team Designee.

“Past challenges in Los Angeles have resulted in real, tangible designs based on student presentations. Students who have participated in the competition have viewed it as a rite of passage, a unique opportunity to put their learning into action,” Lowe said.

Winner Isabella Zelinger said the Chapman team was thrilled about their victory and proud that they could bring home the Orange Cup for their school.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we are so excited to have had the experience and mentorship that this competition afforded,” Zelinger said. “Of course, winning felt pretty good, too!”

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