Opus Foundation® Supports Students in NAIOP University Challenges


​Since the beginning, community stewardship has been a core value of Opus and the Opus Foundation. Supporting projects that impact communities in which Opus associates live and work creates meaningful and lasting synergies. This year, we were proud to continue support for NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association, University Challenges in three of our markets; Minneapolis, Denver and Indianapolis.

Sponsored by the local NAIOP chapters, the University Challenge gives commercial real estate students opportunities to roll up their sleeves and create real-life real estate development proposals for specific properties in their region. In the Challenge, student teams compete to create a vision for the property by conducting research to determine best uses and working with local architectural firms to assist with details like the project design, zoning and entitlements. The team’s proposals are judged by real estate experts and the Opus Foundation awards scholarship funds to the winning teams.

Iconic Minneapolis-Area Business Park Receives Redevelopment Proposals

Students presented proposals for a development plan for the iconic Pentagon Park in Edina. The 12-acre transit-oriented development has easy access to restaurants, shops and businesses in a highly-connected and desirable work destination. With six universities competing, the winners were:

  • First Place – Marquette University ($5,000 grant)
  • Second Place – University of St. Thomas ($2,500 grant)
  • Third Place – University of MN ($1,000 grant)

Suburban Denver Community of Westminster Receives Redevelopment Ideas

As part of the Rocky Mountain Real Estate Challenge, students from the University of Denver and the University of Colorado presented proposals for redeveloping 21 acres adjacent to the Westminister Station in South Westminister, the historic cornerstone of the City of Westminister. The site will become a central hub within the surrounding 135-acre transit-oriented development area. Winners were:

  • First Place – University of Denver ($5,000 grant)
  • Second Place – University of Colorado ($2,500 grant)

“The University Challenge is the absolute best form of applied learning for the students,” said Christine Korjenek, associate director at Marquette University’s Center for Real Estate. “Support from Opus associates and the grant from the Opus Foundation are integral to the success of the program, which equips students with practical, real-life experience as they prepare for careers in the commercial real estate industry.”

Presenting the Highest and Best Use for the Last Large Parcel in Downtown Indy

In Indianapolis, students from Ball State University, Indiana University and Indiana State University presented development proposals for one of the last large development sites available in downtown Indianapolis – the city-owned Indianapolis Public School Bus Garage and former Coca-Cola bottling. Teams were tasked with determining if submitting a bid to the city is the prudent thing to do and if so what that bid would include.

  • Winner – Indiana University ($5,000 grant)

“The Opus Foundation has been instrumental in helping sustain the Indiana Chapter of NAIOP’s University Challenge,” said Ken Martin, director of HFF LLP and kick off presenter for the chapter’s event. “Through the grants that have been made to scholarship funds of the winning university, we are able to offer a substantial prize for the winning team which helps maintain interest from the students.  All while allowing the chapter to provide the students with a meaningful case study to enhance their knowledge of the real estate industry and to interact with the real estate community.“

Supporting educational programs is a natural fit for the Opus Foundation and Opus.

The Opus Foundation supports projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families through grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development and community revitalization. Read more about the Foundation’s work here.

Opus’ student housing development experts are Building Communities that Inspire the Student Living Experience. Learn more here.