Field Studies in Real Estate

This course is intended to provide students an understanding of the dynamics and complexities of reality that create contemporary urban physical environments. The course emphasizes the integration of design and development aspects of projects that respond to realistic market demand, political, financial and other regulatory constraints. It is designed for real estate professionals, planners, and designers to broaden their understanding of urban issues and problems, as well as to improve the applicability of their skills in either design or financial analysis in the context of real estate developments. The pedagogical objectives of the course are as following:1. to introduce students to the intrinsic linkage between financial soundness and design creativity required in the process of real estate development,2. to introduce students to the framework of capital market mechanism and the broad range of activities involved in achieving the success of real estate development with special attention to the various roles played by professional service providers,3. to expose students to as many aspects of real estate issues and decision-making challenges as possible.Students will work in teams of three or four members in undertaking field study projects sponsored by property owners, non-profit organizations and public agencies. Typical projects include development plans for brownfield properties, complex mixed-use urban redevelopment sites, urban fringe community development, redevelopment of a dying shopping malls, and research on complex real estate finance issues. Under the guidance of the professors and in cooperation with the sponsor, students will act as professional consultants for the owners of the projects chosen and carry on the process of the projects. Students will visit the sites in late February or early March and corresponding expenses are covered by the sponsors. Each field study project will be tailored to the needs of each problem site. During the semester, investigations involved include development feasibility studies (market, physical, environmental, financial, and political), site planning, urban design framework, building design, financing, public/private joint ventures, public impacts, and other critical factors affecting the best solution to planning, design and development of each project.The course is a course of \”learning through doing\”. The cases are designed to place students in a number of decision-making situations commonly faced by real estate professionals in the real world. An in-class lottery will be used if too many students prefer a particular project. Field study projects for Spring 2006 include a mixed-use urban development project located in downtown Boston and a redevelopment project in New Orleans. Project Description: New Orleans Housing and Neighborhood Recovery: Students will work closely with Tara Hernandez, chairman of the ULI District Council in New Orleans and other neighborhood leaders from the city on the rebuilding of the neighborhood, Central City, adjacent to the French Quarter. As the Mayor of New Orleans has called for each neighborhood to submit a recovery and housing plan to the City, students of the class will prepare the plan accordingly for the Central City neighborhood. While the neighborhood sustained very considerable damage in the Katrina hurricane, it was not devastated. A number of historic buildings are recoverable. The students\’ objective will be to prepare a redevelopment plan that rebuilds and restores the neighborhood to its former vitality. New housing and commercial development opportunities will give students the chance to explore alternative approaches to bringing back New Orleans\’ unique architectural characters and sense of urbanism to the neighborhood.Bulfinch Triangle in Downtown Boston: The Bulfinch Triangle is located across from the Fleet Center and North Stati