A team of Cal Poly business students won first place in the 2020 Mulroy Real Estate Challenge on April 3, among 26 other teams from top universities.

Cal Poly’s team, Vantage Group, consisted of four business administration students who completed the challenge as their senior project for their Applied Senior Project Seminar course (BUS 464).

The students received the challenge case in January and had four days to draft and submit their design. The team was given a seven-acre plot of land in Coral Gables, Florida, and were challenged to design a plan for building a development on the plot, incorporating aspects such as building design, architectural style, zoning requirements and financing. They were able to use the next few months to practice their presentation before the competition date in April.

“It was definitely a challenge to get everything done in four days,” team captain and business administration senior Ally McPartland said. “We pulled an all-nighter the night before [the design was due], which was pretty crazy, but it ended up being really fun just because we all got along so well that it was enjoyable to do the work.”

Vantage Group’s winning development plan, titled “The Grove,” consisted of a hotel, apartments, offices, retail and a civic area designed in a Mediterranean style to match the architecture of the surrounding community.

The competition was originally scheduled to take place in Philadelphia, but due to COVID-19, it was held over Zoom. Finalists instead presented their slideshows to judges in multiple rounds of Zoom sessions using the screen sharing feature, and took turns talking.

“It’s kind of nice over Zoom because you don’t feel the presence so much of the 120 people in the room,” team member and business administration senior Luke O’Neill said.

The 26 other competing teams came from universities with highly ranked real estate programs, such as University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Georgetown University, among others.

According to Director of Real Estate Education Initiatives and the team’s faculty advisor John Day, Vantage Group’s success can be partially attributed to the interdisciplinary hands-on education at Cal Poly and the collaboration between departments such as business, construction management and architecture.

“Most [other] colleges or universities don’t have that critical mass that are able to all work together and share their various experiences,” Day said.

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