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USP Department Student Team Wins the 2020 NAIOP University Challenge

A team of six students from the USP Department at UC San Diego competed in and won the NAIOP University Challenge on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The team was captained by Sable Beltran, a senior majoring in USP, and included Chris Giammanco (RED), Xinyi Huang (USP), Erik Mumm (USP), Kacie Ting (RED) and Dominic Sistena (USP). The team was coached by three USP Department faculty members: Greg Edwards, Sue Peerson, AICP, and Dr. Mirle Rabinowitz Bussell, Academic Director for the RED major.


This was the 10th year of the competition in San Diego and UC San Diego’s 9th year as a participant. This was UC San Diego’s third victory. 

About the NAIOP University Challenge

NAIOP (the Commercial Real Estate Development Association) is one of North America’s leading commercial real estate organizations. It provides advocacy, education, mentoring, student scholarships, business and networking opportunities. It has local chapters across the country including one here in San Diego, NAIOP San Diego

NAIOP chapters across the country sponsor an annual competition, the University Challenge, to provide students with an opportunity to compete in a head-to-head real estate competition. Here in San Diego, teams from UC San Diego, the University of San Diego and San Diego State University compete to develop the highest and best use for a real, development site in San Diego County. Teams address issues such as financing, sustainable development, market analysis, affordable housing, site design, transit-oriented development, community benefit, entitlements, feasibility and investment returns. A judging panel of nine senior level commercial real estate professionals serves as a mock investment committee. Each team must defend their development proposal privately in front of the committee and then present it to an audience of real estate professionals, industry leaders, university faculty members and fellow students.

The 2020 NAIOP University Challenge was unique due to the impact of COVID-19. The student teams worked tirelessly to research and assemble their proposals to prepare for the final presentations, but midway through the competition they had to switch to remote work. The private Q & A sessions  between each team and the judges were done via Zoom, and the final presentations were also done on Zoom. Despite the obstacles this presented, the three student teams prevailed and produced outstanding work.

About This Year’s Site

The case study for the 2020 NAIOP University Challenge was Tecolote Village, the site of the future Tecolote Trolley Station located at the intersection of West Morena Boulevard and Tecolote Road , east of I-5. This is one of the new trolley stops for the UC San Diego Blue Line Trolley, a 15.4 mile light rail extension that will connect UC San Diego to the rest of the region’s transportation network when it is operational in 2021. 

The 20.5 acre site is ideal for transit-oriented development due to its prime location in the region and its adjacency to the trolley line extension. Each student team determined its own mix of land uses, but the teams were also required to include 75,000 ft2 of office, 100,000 ft2 of storage and 80,000 ft2 of retail. While the site lent itself to increased density and housing development, other critical considerations included the overall integration of the site into the surrounding Linda Vista and Clairemont Mesa communities.

About Our Team’s Winning Proposal

The UC San Diego team won the competition with their proposal for Andante at the Bay.


Andante is a musical term defined as “a tempo at a walking pace,” and this served as the inspiration for the team’s pedestrian-friendly, walkable village with a music venue and public gathering space  at its core. The development vision was guided by the team’s desire to create a STEAM hub that merged Science, Technology, Education, Art, and Music. 

The team’s proposal for the highest and best use of the site included four different residential typologies including affordable housing, co-living, student housing and well-amenitized multi-family housing, an office center (The Innovation Terrace) with lab space for UC San Diego Health, a retail-oriented promenade through the center of the site, a self-storage facility aimed towards artists and artisans to align with the adjacent Design District in the Morena Boulevard Corridor. 

The team’s proposal is financially feasible with a stabilized value of $973M and total costs of $630M yielding a residual land value of approximately $109M or $123/ft2. It offers investors a stabilized yield on cost of 6.0% and a leveraged IRR of 18.1% with an average cash-on-cash return of 11.5%.

Presentation Video


Triton Associates                                                                                  

Sable Beltran (Lead)                                                                               

Chris Giammanco                                                                                   

Xinyi Huang                                                                                              

Erik Mumm                                                                                                

Dominic Sistena                                                                                      

Kacie Ting                                       


Faculty Advisors                                                                                            

Susan Peerson, AICP                                                                             

Mirle Rabinowitz Bussell, Ph.D.                                                            

Gregory Edwards                                                                              


The team wishes to thank the many individuals who supported the competition and provided critical mentoring and guidance. 


Industry Advisors                                                                                   Architects

Zach Adams, Brookfield Properties                                                     Daniel Moskop

Yoshiko Adler, CItyLift Parking                                                              Devin Murphy

Steve Bossi, Atlantis Group                                                                   Jamie Intervalo

Marc Brutten, Westcore/Brutten Global                                              Matt Winter     

Wyatt Capbell, NorthMarq Capital                                                        LPA Inc.  

Don Clauson, Strat Properties                                                              

Dan Epstein, ConAm Management                                                      Alumni                                                 

Yehudi Gaffen, Gafcon                                                                           Marc Brutten, Westcore Properties   

Aaron Goldstein, Brookfield Properties                                               Paul Gherini, Protea Properties    

Jeff Graham, UC San Diego                                                                   Daniel Amar, ConAM Management 

Julie Beth Hinds, UC San Diego

Brad Jones, CBRE                                                                                   Special Thanks

Paul Marra, Keyser Marston                                                                  Paul Marra, Keyser-Marston

Robert Martinez, London Moeder Advisors                                        Dene-Oliver, Brookfield Properties

Nathan Moeder, London Moeder Advisors                                         Robert Campbell, UC San Diego Rady 

Allen Nevin, Xpera Group 

Mike Novkov, Cushman & Wakefield                                                   Assigned Advisors 

Jackie Oh, Community HousingWorks                                               Mark McGovern

Dene Oliver, Brookfield Residential                                                      Luis Foglio, Suffolk Construction      

Steve Pomerenke, Alexandria Real Estate                                         Dave Davis, DF Davis Real Estate

Michael Prinz, City of San Diego

Sue Reynolds, Community Housing Works                                       NAIOP Event Team

Dan Ryan, Alexandria Real Estate Equitiy                                          Karen Burges, NAIOP Executive Director

Ted Shaw, Atantis Group                                                                      Courtney Moore, NAIOP Program Director            

Michael Stark, Broofield Residential                                                  Gary Katz, Presidio Properties

John Turner, Gafcon                                                                             Chris Pascale, CBRE

Diego Velasco, UC San Diego                                                             Charlie Abdi, Finest City Realty

Mary Walshok, UC San DIego Extension                                           Kevin Heinly, Gensler

Brad Williams, Floke & Avoyer                                                                                  


NAIOP University Challenge Judges

Kelly Moden, Community HousingWorks

Perry Dealy, Dealy Development

Zack Holderman, JLL

Mike McNerney, LOWE

Dennis Cruzan, Cruzan

Ben Badiee, Badiee Development

Mike Mahoney, Ryan Companies

Colton Sudberry, Sudberry Properties

Casey Brown, Casey Brown Company
















UCSD Takes Trophy at NAIOP's 10th Annual University Challenge

San Diego Patch Article

Article Link


Highlights of Team's Work

Video Link


UC San Diego team takes top prize in NAIOP’s 10th annual University Challenge.

Article Link


Watch the 2020 University Challenge presentations and ceremony.

Video Link