The Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation is partnering with Starwood Retail Partners to engage real estate students in redeveloping an 11.7-acre site attached to the Chicago Ridge Mall in Chicago Ridge, Illinois.
The 2019 Midwest Real Estate Challenge welcomes students from ten universities to compete by creating plans to redevelop the 154,000-square-foot department store box, formerly occupied by Carson’s. Once a valuable component of the community’s commercial base, the site is currently vacant and awaiting a transformative redevelopment. Students will present their proposals to top industry leaders on Saturday, April 6 at the Standard Club Chicago.
The Real Estate Challenge affords students the opportunity to acts as developers for a three-month-long educational experience. The student teams will attempting to persuade the investment committee to purchase a site and redevelop it into a dynamic project with optimal financial returns for both the student development teams and the investment group.
Throughout the process, students will have the opportunity to work alongside top industry professionals as advisors. The final result will be an in-depth analysis considering financing, timeline, connectivity to the neighborhood, impact and many other factors. The winning plan will successfully execute a comprehensive analysis and conclusion of how to maximize the potential of the property from a financially feasible standpoint.
“The mission of the Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation is two pronged. In addition to funding gastrointestinal cancer research, we create unique education and mentorship opportunities for real estate students,” said Katie Wales, the foundation’s executive director. “This year’s challenge is especially meaningful because Harold Eisenberg, the foundation’s namesake, was involved with the project when Chicago Ridge Mall was originally developed.”
The challenge addresses a nation-wide issue. With big box and anchor stores closing all over the country, large, regional malls like this one are searching for ways to reimagine a second life for unleased space in their properties.
“This is a great opportunity to get fresh new ideas for how to potentially utilize retail space,” said Steven Yee, general manager of Chicago Ridge Mall. “We look forward to seeing how these students’ proposals address the challenges of the site.”
Judged by experienced professionals, the Real Estate Challenge allows teams to present in the presence of development stakeholders. Judging criteria include long-term transformative nature, balance of uses, innovation and design, financial feasibility, as well as social and environmental responsibility. Two winning teams, one graduate and one undergraduate, will earn $5,000 scholarships towards their university’s real estate education program, sponsored by Starwood Retail Partners.