• Arizona Contractor & Community

NAIOP Arizona, Junior Achievement partnership culminates with student competition among 6 teams

The Arizona Chapter of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, partnered this semester with Junior Achievement of Arizona to teach a course entitled Real Estate Development and the Built Environment to students at Gateway Early College High School.


During the six-week program, volunteers from NAIOP Arizona used a curriculum originally designed by industry group REIAC to teach students the basics of commercial real estate development, including different building types, entitlements and zoning, financing a project, putting together a team, and finding tenants.


NAIOP volunteer instructors included Alex Boles, ViaWest Group; Damon Jeffrey, Mortenson; David Kinney, Raintree Capital; Stirling Pascal, Lee & Associates Arizona; Peggy Maxwell, Plaza Companies; Samantha Pinkal, Greater Phoenix Economic Council; Ashley Nye, Trammell Crow Company; Cathy Thuringer, Trammell Crow Company; and Eric Whitehurst, Kimley-Horn.


“We were delighted to be able to introduce this diverse group of students to a range of exciting careers in commercial real estate,” said Candace Rosauro, Layton Construction, a NAIOP Board member who helped organize the course. “All of the volunteers were impressed by the students’ commitment to the project and how much they learned about the development process.”


The project culminated with a student competition on March 31. Six teams presented their projects to a group of five NAIOP volunteers who evaluated the projects from the perspective of potential investors. Serving as judges were Rusty Kennedy, CBRE; Peggy Maxwell, Plaza Companies; Stirling Pascal, Lee & Associates Arizona; Danny Swancey, ViaWest Group; and Cathy Thuringer, Trammell Crow Company.


The winning group, called Red Room Hotel, presented a luxury hotel concept located in Tempe. The three students in the winning group were presented with first-place certificates and Amazon gift cards.


“I just wanted to take a minute and thank you again for your time and energy you have given to this project. I am not sure if you understand the impact this has had on our students. We have had to be online for a year and a half and our students have had a very difficult time. From scrambling to find technology to the loss many have faced due to COVID… these past years have been the most challenging in my 22 years as an educator,” said teacher Karen Hawkes.


“Knowing that there are entities in our community who care and see value in our kiddos and what we are doing here means everything… I have watched these students finally open up and work collaboratively with each other to solve problems and create engaging presentations,” Hawkes said.