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May 21, 2024
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UCLA Defeats USC in Annual NAIOP SoCal Silver Shovel Competition


On the 25th anniversary of the NAIOP SoCal UCLA vs USC Real Estate Challenge, it was UCLA’s five-member graduate student team that took home the Silver Shovel.

The event, held November 17 on the UCLA campus, pit five-member graduate student teams from the Ziman Center of Real Estate at UCLA’s Anderson School of Business and the Lusk Center at USC’s Marshall School of Business and Price School of Public Policy in a competitive battle to determine the highest and best use for a unique parcel of land in Southern California.

Each of the student teams were introduced by honorary coaches. Robert Hart, founder, chief executive, and president of Los Angeles-based TruAmerica Multifamily cheered on the UCLA team and Watt Capital Partners’ CEO Nadine Watt provided inspiration for the USC team.

The 2022 challenge was a 20.87-acre site in Carson. Prologis, the project site sponsor, acquired the site in 2014 for redevelopment. The student teams provided creative proposals during the competition to maximize the value of this unique blank slate opportunity.

For 2022, NAIOP SoCal named real estate industry icons with significant connections to each university as honorary coaches. In year’s past former UCLA and USC athletes and athletic coaches were given the role.

Robert Hart, founder, chief executive, and president of Los Angeles-based TruAmerica Multifamily, a vertically integrated multifamily investment firm, was the honorary coach for UCLA. TruAmerica, under his leadership, has become one of the most active multifamily investors in the U.S. with approximately $16.1 bil of assets under management. Hart is responsible for the phenomenal growth and national expansion of the firm’s value-add investment platform, which includes more than 55,000 units in 14 states. He has led TruAmerica to a top 50 ranking of the largest apartment owners in the U.S. the past six years by the National Multifamily Housing Council. Hart earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA and where he serves on the leadership board for UCLA’s Ziman Center for Real Estate.

USC’s honorary coach was Nadine Watt, CEO of Watt Capital Partners. As CEO, she brings over 25 years of real estate expertise to her position, where she oversees day-to-day activities and strategic planning for all commercial investment activities including acquisitions, development, and asset management for the company’s 6 msf portfolio. Previously, Watt served as president of Watt Companies. In 2011, she led a strategic reorganization of the company that moved the firm beyond traditional property management and leasing to a focus on acquisitions and real estate development, as well as joint venture opportunities. She played a key role in launching Watt Companies’ acquisition division – Watt Investment Partners – that now actively invests $60 million in a variety of property types across the Western United States. Watt holds a Master of Arts degree from the School of Cinematic Arts at USC. She is the president-elect of the University of Southern California Board of Governors and serves as vice-chair of the Lusk Center for Real Estate as well as on the USC Associates Board of Directors.

The winning student team had to determine the highest and best use for the chosen site and accrue the most points during written and oral presentations from the judging panel that includes a diverse collection of high-profile real estate industry executives. To add to the excitement, for the 25th anniversary, the student teams came in tied at 12 wins each.

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