Residential Development Class Takes On Ithaca Development Sites

March 6, 2015

Students of the Baker Program in Real Estate have been challenged to come up with development plans for three separate sites in downtown Ithaca for this year's Residential Development Class, part of the core curriculum for first-year students. The class was taught by Senior Lecturer Brad Olson in previous years, but this year, is being taught in conjunction with Visiting Lecturer Mack Travis. 

Mr. Travis founded Ithaca Rentals and Renovations, Inc. in 1971, and served as President of the real estate management and development company until becoming Chairman in 2011. Over the course of 40 years, he has bought, managed, and developed over $100 million of real estate in Ithaca and Binghamton, NY. His son Frost Travis took the reigns as President in 2011, transforming the company name into Travis Hyde Properties.

The Residential Development Class takes students through the entire process of planning an actual real estate project, from start to finish. From site acquisition plans, entitlement timelines, construction phasing, costs, and financing; all are rolled into a series of deliverables throughout the semester. Teams of students work together to come up with each deliverable and are encouraged to approach each site in innovative and creative ways in order to achieve as realistic a project as possible.

"We've been given some challenging sites to work with, so it's been quite a learning experience so far understanding the context, the entitlements process, and the local market. Mr. Travis has a wealth of experience in the market, which has provided a great background," said Muhammed Ammad Raja (Baker '16).  As students work on their project schedules and development plans over the next few weeks, the details and intricacies of each development sites are explored to a level of detail one would expect from an actual project.  Towards the end of the semester, each team will pitch their full plan to the current property owners so that they may provide commentary and insight into the logistics of each plan.

Real estate development requires patience, hard work, and a deep understanding of local market context in order to be successful, which is why the Baker Program in Real Estate provides the Residential Development Class within the core curriculum each year.  Students learn the complex process of development from real world practitioners, one of the many benefits of the specialized two-year Master's Degree offered through Cornell University.