Real Estate Immersion in Mexico

The Real Estate Study Tour to Mexico City has come to an end and it was a huge success! We had 7 full days of professional and cultural activities in which the group of 17 MBA students plus 2 representatives of the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate learned about the nuances of the local market. Many things happened during the week so it is a good idea to recap!

Day 1: We all arrived at Oaxaca on the night of Saturday March 16th. Our hotel was beautiful and in line with the antique buildings of Oaxaca. After having a good night sleep we all met at breakfast and at 8 am we took a bus to Hierve el Agua. Our guide, Coco, offered us to make a 45 minute hike to see this amazing mineral formations and we all agree to do it. He did not mentioned that we had to go up and down about 400 steps! We enjoyed the beautiful view and headed to Casa Antigua for our first official local lunch. The food was great and brought us back to life. From there we took our bus to a local Palenque (place where Mezcal is made) and Coco explained the whole process of making this Oaxacan drink, and also tasted a little at the end of the tour.On our way back to Oaxaca City we stopped at Santa Maria de Tule where we saw the Tule Tree, the widest tree in the whole world. In the evening, after relaxing for about an hour, we went to the renowned restaurant Criollo (owned by the famous chef Enrique Olvera) and enjoyed a wonderful dinner in a very intimate setting.

Day 2: After a short 20 minute ride, our second day started at Monte Alban, a large pre-Columbian archaeological site. Our local guides explained the story of the ancient Zapotec culture and the latest advancements of the excavation. We were lucky and had a beautiful sunny day there. From there we head back to the city and had lunch at Azuzena Zapoteca, a restaurant owned by a couple that is renowned by their local artisan Alebrijes. After lunch Coco gave us a downtown city tour of Oaxaca were we all had time to but local Mezcal, hand crafts and coffee. Before heading to the airport we stopped by a small town called San Bartolo de Coyotepec that is known for the black clay pottery. From there we went to the airport and flew to CDMX.

Day 3: Our first day in Mexico City couldn’t have started in a better way. Francisco Andragnes, CBS alum, presented his company MetroBuildings, a multifamily developer, and told us all about his career path from CBS until now and gave an overview of the multifamily market in Mexico. We visited one of his development sites in the Polanco neighborhood and went through all the design details of various types of apartments. We had to eat a Lunch Box in the bus to be able to make on time to the next meeting due to the traffic in the city. We met with Thor Urbana, a retail-hospitality developer, where the ¨Jimmies¨ (Jimmy and Jaime, both CBS Alums) presented the company’s strategy and a few of their projects under development (one was an island in the Bahamas). The third meeting was with CBRE. Lyman Daniels, CBRE’s Director in Mexico, presenten in detail the Office, Industrial, Retail and Hospitality markets and trends.

Day 4: Early in the morning, and after a great breakfast in the hotel our bus dropped us in a luxury condo development site (almost ready) in Polanco. There, the team of Marhnos, explained all the analysis behind the project. We walked through a couple of the apartments and we wished we could own one. They were beautiful! after this meeting we met with Alexander Galewicz and Carlos Glender, both alums, and after they presented they career paths and the companies they founded we had a casual lunch where we all had the chance to ask questions and talk about how CBS helped them get to where they are. To close the day we visited the Morgan Stanley in far away neighborhood of Lomas de Santa Fe where Luis Brossier gave us a master class about FIBRAs (Mexican REITS).

Day 5: Today we visited a Tech/Real Estate (PropTech) company called Intelimetrica, which focuses their activities in Big Data and is disrupting the industry in Mexico. Mario, one of the Founders, gave an overview of their business model, strategy and their focus for the next year. After this we had time to mingle with some of Intelimetrica’s employees. Before lunch we headed to Castillo de Chapultepec for a short tour guided by our one and only Don Alfonso. For lunch we headed to Club de Industriales, a social club where real estate professionals gather. There, David O’Donnell (founder of the industrial real estate development company O’Donnell) invited us for lunch and walked us around the industrial real estate industry. To finish the day we visited the Anthropology museum, a must-see in CDMX.

Day 6: On out last company visit day we visited met with FIBRA Dahnos in one of their iconic mixed used projects called Toreo Parque Central. We walked through the mall, office space and event went up to the helipad. after we moved to the architecture office of Sordo Madeleno and we went through a couple of their iconic projects. Some of these where developed with Mexplorer, founded by Diego Baños CBS Alum, who walked us through his venture and future projects. To finish this day we had a late lunch at Entremar where we enjoyed a wonderful local meal and come “Carajillos”.

Day 7: On the last day of the trip, and to close up the intense and interesting week we visited Coyoacán and the central square of CDMX (Zócalo). In Coyoacán we went to Frida Kahlo’s house and Trotsky’s house where our guided gave us cultural context and taught us a bit more about Mexican history. We had a local lunch at La Calaca and then went to the Zócalo and walked through the Templo Mayor, city Cathedral and the government house. In the evening we had our farewell dinner in Casa Virginia. It was the BEST food of the trip and the best way to finish the week.

Valentina Pardo CBS’19

4 Intense Days in CDMX

The Mexico City (CDMX) portion of our trip was intense and a great combination of company visits, site tours and cultural activities.

The first meeting that we had was with Metrobuildings, a local multifamily company that is one of the pioneers in the industry in Latin America. One of the founders, Francisco Andragnes (CBS Alum), walked us through the macro aspects of the industry and gave us a very informative site tour of one of his new projects in the Polanco neighborhood. We learned about what is driving the multifamily industry in Mexico and also about every small detail about the design of the apartments.

Multifamily development site – Metrobuildings

Another amazing meeting was with CBRE Mexico. There we had a great presentation made by Lyman Daniels, Mexico’s Country Manager, where he went through the Office, Retail, Hospitality and Housing industries in detail.

CBRE Real Estate Outlook presentation

In a similar tone, we visited Morgan Stanley, and were able to go through a deep macro and market analysis, with a special focus on FIBRAS (the Mexican equivalent of REITS). We had deep discussion over regulation and the outlook of the real estate market in Mexico. We also discussed the current political shifts with the election of the new Mexican president (AMLO) and the effects of the Trump’s election on the NAFTA agreements.

Both CBRE and Morgan Stanley presentations were extremely useful for all of use to gain a better understanding of the markets and a better base to approach the other company visits.

Morgan Stanley Real Estate Division

Another interesting presentation was the one with O’Donnell, industrial developer in Mexico. David O’Donnell, founder and CEO, invited us for lunch at Club the industriales (business club) were we heard his perspective on the world’s industrial development and how Mexico has great conditions for this specific market. He also gave us some professional advice, and after lunch we walked through the Club and were able to see some paintings from Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

Club de Industriales – Business Club (O’Donnell meeting)

The trip has been great so far and all the information and knowledge that we are absorbing is coming together. It has been challenging to be able to stay concentrated but all meeting have been very interesting and have kept all of un engaged.

Valentina Pardo CBS’19

We all love Oaxaca

We made the most of the 2 days that we had in Oaxaca. It was the perfect beginning for a very busy week.

Our time there begun with a trip to Hierve el Agua where we say the natural mineral water coming from the mountain into the surface and forming amazing waterfall-looking mineral formations. It was a good hike as well. From there we went to a local restaurant and after trying some typical local dishes we continued our way to a Palenque where we learned about the process of making Mezcal and also tried a few local Mezcales.

Hierve el Agua

Before going back to the Oaxaca City center (where our hotel was) we visited the Tule Tree which is the widest tree on earth (47 ft diameter) and tried the local ice creams in Santa Maria de Tule.

Tule Tree

Day one ended with an amazing dinner in the back yard of El Criollo, a renowned local restaurant, were we tasted potato tamales, salsas, ceviche tacos, hibiscus water, among many other delicious dishes.

Day two was great as well. We begun the day with a visit to the archaeological site of Monte Alban where our guide Fred taught us all about the ceremonial site, the excavations and the traditions of the ancient Miztecas.

Monte Alban

From there we went back to Oaxaca historical center and had a great walking tour downtown. From there we explored the historical center and stopped by in a few local Mezcal, artisan, ice cream and coffee shops. Before heading to the airport, we went to San Bartolo de Coyotepec to experience the process of creating pottery with barro negro.

Santo Domingo Cathedral

This past 2 days have been relaxing and filled with culture. Now we’re heading to Mexico City and are ready to 4 intense days of company visits.

Valentina Pardo Seguel CBS’19

Mexico here we go!

We are about to begin the Mexico Real Estate Study Trip to Oaxaca and Mexico City! As the day come closer the organizing team, composed by 5 CBS students, goes through the last details to make the experience as complete and enriching as possible.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Oaxaca City Center

The trip will start with 2 full days in Oaxaca. This is a city in central Mexico that is mostly known for its colonial buildings, many of which are made from green volcanic stone, and the large variety of indigenous cultures. The food in Oaxaca is well known all around Mexico and some even say is the best of the country. During our time there we will explore the city center and its cathedrals, go to the local textile and crafts markets and try a few of the most renown restaurants in town.

The group will also explore the areas and towns around the city. we will visit Hierve el Agua to relax in the fresh water springs, and to Monte Albán to learn more about one of the earliest civil-ceremonial centers of the Zapotec cultures (500 BC). We will also learn about the process of distilling agave and do some Mezcal tasting before heading to the airport to Mexico City.

Reforma Avenue, Mexico City

The four days in Mexico City will be hectic, not only because of the huge traffic problem the city has, but because we will visit 11 companies and 3 projects/construction sites. Even though the trip is focused in Real Estate, the range of companies is broad in terms of focus. We will talk with Metrobuildings (multifamily developer), Thor Urbana (retail and hospitality developer), CBRE (research), Marhnos (for sale residential development), Morgan Stanley (IB), Intelimétrica (RE Big Data, proptech, entrepreneurship), O’Donnell (industrial development), Dahnos (REIT, mixed use developer) and Sordo Madeleno (mixed use developer). Site visits will include a for-sale luxury condos, a multifamily construction site and Toreo Parque Central, an iconic mix use project just outside the city limits.

We will also use our time there to explore the rich culture and history of the city. We will do a day tour of the city center (Zócalo), visit the Anthropology Museum, walk around the Chapultepec Castle, explore the neighborhood of Coyoacán and learn more about Frida Kahlo in the museum that used to be her house.

Stay tuned for more update during the trip!

Valentina Pardo CBS’19

REA Bogota and Mexico City Wrap-Up

It’s been a fun week in Bogota and Mexico City and it’s sad to have to head back to New York (you don’t hear that too often!). The week has been such a great opportunity for students who want to get involved in real estate to learn about how the industry operates in emerging Latin American markets. We’ve visited great firms doing ground-up development, redevelopment, and investing all across Latin America, and we’ve certainly visited our fair share of cultural spots in both Bogota and Mexico City.

And the food…the food was amazing! When we were in Bogota, we went to Andres Carne de Res, one of the most famous steak restaurants in all of Colombia. Instead of ordering individual meals, we decided to order family style for each table, and we had some of the best food and especially meat that I’ve ever had. I’d highly recommend it for anyone looking to visit Colombia. And the last night in Mexico City, we went to a local taqueria which was exactly what we needed. It was cheap, quick, and most importantly, delicious:)

Inside Andres Carne de Res
Inside Andres Carne de Res

I also would be remiss if I didn’t thank our trip organizers Juan, Jonathan, Minna, and Alex for doing such a great job organizing everything. The trip itself was so seamless, and that made it all the more enjoyable.

View over the pyramids in Teotihuacan
View over the pyramids in Teotihuacan on the last day

Mariachi-ing in Mexico City

After a travel day to Mexico City, we hit the ground running with an all-day visit with Reichmann International and its head of Mexico, Rick Ricker. Mr. Ricker first moderated a panel on the state of the Mexican real estate market with executives from CBRE, HSBC, and FibraUNO. Topics included opportunities outside of Mexico City, ventures into new property types such as multifamily rental buildings, the state of the construction lending market, and the establishment of the Fibras (Mexico’s first REITs). From there, Mr. Ricker and his team gave us a tour of Torre Mayor, one of the most technologically advanced office buildings in Mexico City, which Reichmann International developed in 2003. Torre Mayor incorporates world-class shock absorbers to balance the movement of the building during earthquakes, a great problem for tall buildings in Mexico City due to its location within an earthquake-prone lakebed area.

View over Mexico City from the Helipad on Torre Mayor
View over Mexico City from the Helipad on Torre Mayor

Mr. Ricker also gave a tour of Torre Diana, an under-construction 33-story office building a few blocks from Torre Mayor, in the city’s Reforma District. Later in the afternoon, we returned to Torre Mayor, where we spoke with Mexplorer Capital and Grupo Sordo Madaleno, two firms which are collaborating to create the tallest office tower in Latin America. The group enjoyed speaking with Diego Baños Garcia ’13 from Mexplorer Capital about his firm’s focus on developing high-end retail and mixed-use projects throughout Mexico. Finally, Mr. Ricker concluded the evening by hosting a dinner for us and invited guests from the Mexican real estate industry. The dinner included games involving the Mexican economy and performances from a live Mariachi band!

We followed up the day with Reichmann International with a visit to Fibra Hotel Group, Mexico’s largest lodging Fibra (REIT). Fibra Hotel is focused on institutionalizing the Mexican hotel market and helping established brands such as Marriott increase their presence in Mexico. We then met with Thor Urbana Capital, a joint venture between Joseph Sitt’s Thor Equities and Mexican developer GFa Grupo Inmobiliaro, that was founded by two Columbia Business School graduates, Jaime Fasja ’10 and Jimmy Arakanji ’11. Thor Urbana Capital has many high-end retail developments underway in Mexican resort destinations such as Playa del Carmen, and it is attempting to move the Mexican retail market away from the strata title model. Our final business visit was with Greystar, the prolific American multifamily developer and investor. Greystar emerged in the Mexican market in the last few years and has numerous multifamily rental properties in the Santa Fe submarket of Mexico City, and has plans to develop millions of square feet of multifamily properties in Mexico over the next decade.

Bogota Was a Blast…Now Off to Mexico City!

By: Chris Doman ’15

It’s been a jam-packed three days for us in Bogota. Most of us arrived Saturday night, and then woke up to a full-day of site-seeing around the city on Sunday. We started with a tour of the old city, and took an incline up to Mount Monserratte, where we could see the entire city. You truly can appreciate how big Bogota is when at the top of the mountain. Bogota itself is about a 20-mile long city that has a population of over 8 million. With so many people, traffic is a huge problem in the city and can take upwards of an hour to travel only a few kilometers. We’ve been lucky to get to all of our visits on time since our awesome tour planners baked in plenty of travel time (thanks Juan, Jon, Minna, and Alex!).

View of Bogota from Mount Monserratte
View of Bogota from Mount Monserratte

From there, we went to the Museo Del Oro, which houses a large collection of gold jewelry that was extremely important to many of the indigenous groups of Colombia. The highlight of the day for me was going to the Museo Botero, which has many paintings and sculptures of the great Colombian artist, Fernando Botero. Botero is famous for (how should I put this politely) painting “fat” figures, as he once put it. Botero actually exaggerates the proportions of people and objects, which are often intended to be political satire.

Monday and Tuesday were both full of company visits, speaking with some of the most dynamic real estate development and investment firms in all of Latin America. We started off Monday speaking with Gregorio Schneider (CBS ’96), the Founder of TC Latin America Partners. His firm partners with local developers to construct for-sale apartments, which there is a huge shortage of in Bogota. Later in the day, we visited with Avenida Capital, co-founded by Michael Teich (CBS ’00). Avenida also focuses on for-sale apartments, but also partners with developers to create retail and office space across Latin America.

We spent Tuesday with Terranum Capital, founded by Jose Ignacio Robledo. Jose Ignacio spoke with us at length about Terranum’s business platform, which includes residential housing, commercial office development, and hospitality. Terranum both develops and acquires its properties, and has its own architecture arm and property management firm. Jose Ignacio was a pioneer in the real estate market in Colombia, working with government authorities to create the first REIT structure. Terranum’s REIT, PEI, was created in 2006 and is currently the only REIT on the Colombian Stock Exchange. From there, Terranum’s team showed us around its new developments, including Connecta, a mixed-use development near the airport that is setting the standard for commercial office space in the city. We concluded Tuesday with a CBS alumni reception at the newly-opened W hotel in Bogota, which was great for us to network with fellow CBSers both in and outside the real estate industry.

New Office Development at Terranum Capital's Connecta Site
New Office Development at Terranum Capital’s Connecta Site

Now we’re off to Mexico City! Catch up with you all in a few days.

Almost Ready for Chazen – REA Colombia & Mexico

By Chris Doman ’15

Ahh packing…that thing we think only will take ten minutes, so we put it off until an hour before leaving for the airport. But somehow it always gets done and it’s a nice surprise to see what you actually packed when you get to the other end.

In a few hours, a large group of CBS students will be taking off for Bogota, where we’ll be touring the historic center of the city, known as La Candelaria, which has much historical significance and is a great example of Spanish colonial architecture (we are in real estate after all so it seems fitting to start with a focus on the buildings). We’ll also be visiting Plaza de Bolivar, where a statue of the great emancipator Simon Bolivar is located. On Monday, we start visiting local real estate businesses to learn the ins and outs of the booming Colombian property market. Then on Wednesday, we head to Mexico City for more architecture, business visits and great food. Jealous yet?

Stay tuned for updates throughout this week. And wish me luck as to what I find in my suitcase on the other end….