GSD Course Bulletin - Spring 2013

This term's information was last refreshed on 12 MAY 2015 14:54:38.

Courses taught by Nicolas Retsinas

05489: Real Estate in Frontier Markets (SES 0548900)

Urban Planning and Design
Lecture - 4 credits
This course has an IRREGULAR meeting schedule. Please see full course description.

Nicolas Retsinas

Course Description

Jointly Listed at Harvard Business School as HBS 1462

Meets according to the X schedule, 11:40 a.m. - 1 p.m., Hawes 201. Go here to examine the X schedule (will be the right column, Term 4):
Overview: Frontier markets are defined, for this course, as geographic areas with a lack of physical (roads, pipes) and institutional (legal codes, professional organizations) infrastructure. Due to conditions of information asymmetry and contracting risk, these markets are more volatile, and carry higher risk, than established markets. These markets are more likely to be shaped by public policies, and they are more subject to economic and political instability. Frontier markets exist not only in the developing world, but also in sub-sectors of the highly developed United States economy; e.g., inner cities, inner ring suburbs, rural areas.

Major themes: (1) Consumers and businesses in emerging markets have purchasing power and represent a viable market as illustrated through profitable commercial and residential projects in the developing world. (2) Market inefficiencies and the dearth of usable information can elevate perceived risk. A better understanding of the true risk (and how to mitigate that risk) can create substantial margins of profitability.
Educational Objectives:
1. How to assess market context;
2. How to distinguish between perceived risk and real risk;
3. How to understand the role of the public sector;
4. How to reduce agency risk; and
5. How to mitigate overall development risk including regional and project risk.

Career Focus: For students seeking a career in developing, or investing in real estate in emerging markets domestically and/or internationally.

Content and Grading: Most of the cases will be drawn from outside US experiences. Grades will be based on class participation (50%) and the final paper (50%).

Nicolas P. Retsinas, Baker 165, 617-496-7473,
Faculty Assistant: Sarah Schwegman, 617-495-6586,


GSD iCommons Website

09207: Gateway Cities Field Study (ADV 0920700)

Urban Planning and Design
Independent Study - 4 credits
Monday 5:00 - 7:00   WCC 3007

Ann Forsyth, David Barron, Nicolas Retsinas

Course Description

The Gateway cities class will meet in M 5:00pm - 7:00pm at the Law School in WCC (Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center, Clinical Wing), 6 Everett Street, Room 3007.
This learning experience is conducted jointly by Professor Nicolas Retsinas (HBS), Professor David Barron, Harvard Law School (HLS) and Professor Ann Forsyth, Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD).

HBS students can register for an Independent Project with Prof. Retsinas in winter term to participate and earn 3- credits. Teams will then be formed with members from each school. MUPs should register for 4 units (the equivalent of 3 credits at the HBS) and we are still figuring out if it's an independent study or a course.

HBS, HLS, and GSD students will work in teams on interdisciplinary projects relating to the redevelopment of Gateway Cities. Gateway cities are critical sites of redevelopment in Massachusetts, but can also be found throughout the Northeast and the Midwest. They are former industrial cities that experienced hard economic times in the wake of economic shifts but are receiving renewed attention from policymakers to see how they can be redeveloped to make them important, successful places for the 21st Century. A key feature of these cities is that they are home to new waves of immigration, a dimension that makes them especially important to the broader economic strategy for Massachusetts and other states that are home to gateway cities.

In this field study, the interdisciplinary teams will work on site specific projects by partnering with state, local and community representatives on ongoing redevelopment projects and policies. Each team will be assigned to a project for the semester and work collaboratively to provide project reports to the point people in the city, state or community working on those projects. In addition to the field work and final project reports, students will meet with the course faculty for six sessions throughout the semester to receive an introduction to the relevant concepts relating to urban redevelopment in these gateway cities, as well as an introduction to the three major disciplines that are relevant -- planning and design, law, and business.

Potential project sites include:
Fitchburg, MA: The Fitchburg City Hall has just been labeled "endangered" after years of deferred maintenance.  In looking at the potential renovation of City Hall (a historic property), the Mayor would like to consider its role as part of broader economic development strategy to redevelop the central business district, including an abandoned theater across the street.  The Mayor is especially interested in the potential for public-private partnerships.
Worcester, MA: The City of Worcester is completing a master plan for a 35-acre area aimed at allowing academic expansion for their nine or so colleges as well as a future revitalization plan in the area. Student teams will partner with the Worcester Business Development Corporation to target a specific project area within the revitalization plan.
Salem, MA: The City of Salem has a large project underway in its Point neighborhood. The Point is a distressed neighborhood that is in the process of trying to formulate a comprehensive redevelopment plan. This project could include partnering with the City on a housing inventory and needs analysis.

HBS student’s role in the project team will likely be to provide deliverables such as market research, financial analysis, development budgets, and pro formas that will help formulate and shape the execution and implementation of the project plans. HLS students will assist with the legal-policy, as well as strategy and analytical issues raised by the projects. GSD students will undertake planning activities such as feasibility studies, physical planning and economic development strategies.

Admission is with the permission of the instructor. HBS students please submit a 1-2 paragraph statement indicating your interest in the independent project or a specific project site from above. Please submit statements by January 7th to Lisa Strope, HBS Research Associate, at: HBS students who are accepted will then register for an Independent Project. HLS students submit an email explaining your interest in the course by email to Professor Barron by that same date. GSD students submit to Erica George,

All sessions will be held on Mondays from 5:00 to 7:00pm beginning January 28, 2013.
Jan 28 – March 4: Students will attend the Introduction session to understand the context and goals of the project, and to meet all other participating students. Students will then self-form teams with a target of having each school represented on each team. Teams will then have chosen or been assigned a Gateway City project. Over the course of the next four weeks, you will gain an understanding of the project by meeting with the Professors, reading background materials and meeting with city officials.
Mid-March: Mid-term review (s): TBA
Mid-April: Final Studio Review/Presentation for each of the teams will be held on a date to be announced at the start of class.

GSD iCommons Website

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