Published: May 13, 2022

When it comes to NAIOP’s annual Rocky Mountain Real Estate Challenge, the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder is really building something.

For the second year in a row, Leeds graduate students studying real estate won the competition, which involves pitching projects for a particular development site in Colorado. A panel of industry experts awarded CU Boulder top honors over the competing team from the University of Denver. 

This year’s competition involved developing a master plan for a 25-acre parcel within Peak Innovation Park, in southeastern Colorado Springs.

Echoing last year’s victorious team, Ryan Adzima (MBA’22) said his team succeeded because it kept the needs of the community at the center of its proposal. 

“We could deliver a high-end project, but it’s not realistic for the neighborhood,” said Adzima, who recently accepted a position as a vice president at Meriwether Cos. “We wanted to deliver something real that would bring people together, which I felt won us the competition.” 

The team—which was comprised of Adzima, Brickman House (MBA’22), Gabriella Haloute (MSRE’22), Derek Lange (MBA’22) and Cole Meleyco (Bus’13; MSRE’22)—proposed a site plan that included incubator spaces for veterans, a sports complex and dining options, among other features. 

Designs were by nature constrained by the site’s proximity to Colorado Springs Airport and the multiple military installations nearby.   

“The challenge is in discovering how creative can you be, and match that with how well you understand the market you’re building in,” Adzima said. “That’s where we came up with the small office spaces and brewpubs. If you offer good burgers and beer—who’s going to say no to that?” 

Students pursuing the master’s in real estate or the real estate concentration in the MBA take classes in, and benefit from the expertise of, the CU Real Estate Center, which connects students to industry experts for extracurricular learning, experiential opportunities, and professional development and mentoring. 

“This inter-university competition offers one of the finest real-world learning opportunities for real estate graduate students,” said Michael Kercheval, executive director of CUREC. “The quality of entries across all the teams at both universities reinforces the high caliber of learning that our industry’s future leaders are obtaining.”

Five students in professional dress stand with a lovely check and trophy.

The winning team holds the trophy and prize check at NAIOP's Rocky Mountain Real Estate Challenge. From left, Ryan Adzima, Derek Lange, Brickman House, Gabriella Haloute and Cole Meleyco.

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