Beginning in Fall of 2013, graduate students will be able to earn a certificate in real estate development from the department of urban and regional planning.
The new program does not require a degree from the urban and regional planning department, according to department chair Asha Weinstein Agrawal.
“In fact, we anticipate that many students in the program will come in with undergrad degrees in fields like business, civil engineering and economics,” Agrawal said.
According to Ralph McLaughlin, an assistant professor in urban and regional planning, who will teach one of the four classes required in the program, students will only have to be on campus for five weeks of the semester while the other ten weeks will be taught online.
McLaughlin said students with the Certificate in Real Estate Development can go on to work for development teams for private real estate companies, architecture firms, development for local government and more.
“Because development today is way more complex than development in the past, it is increasingly difficult for employers to train developers on the job,” McLaughlin said. “So the CRED program will provide a solid educational framework for students so that they can hit the ground running in the development industry, rather than having to rely heavily, and slowly, on on-the-job training.”
President Mohammad Qayoumi said he believes the housing and technological aspects of real estate development that affects Silicon Valley is important to the region's future.
“I think the starting of this program is one of those indications of how San Jose State is trying to connect with the community and see how we can really meet the needs of the community,” Qayoumi said.
He also said the certificate is the start of other possible programs similar to the Certificate in Real Estate Development program that balance online with in-class components and provide students with a series of “stackable certificates.”
The urban and regional planning department hosted the inaugural Certificate in Real Estate Development symposium last Thursday to introduce the program and to engage executives and directors in different fields of development and planning.
“Our goal for the series of symposia is that they bring together people from the private sector, government and academia for thought-provoking discussion on the most important current issues for real estate development in Northern California,” Agrawal said.
McLaughlin said the symposium brought the certificate program some attention, but the main reason for the symposium was to promote an encouraging relationship between planners and developers.
“Often times, the assumption is that developers and planners don't get along and have opposing views of the world, but in reality, this isn't really the case,” McLaughlin said. “Often planners and developers are on the same page with respect to the types of built form they are seeking, and this event is really to showcase the synergies that can exist between the public and private sectors.”
The symposium began with presentations on how real estate has evolved in the Bay Area and then went into two panel discussions about current real estate issues.
The first panel consisted of Ed Axelsen, the director of real estate and facilities at Twitter, and Jay Bechtel, the real estate project executive at Google.
They discussed how the dynamics of buildings must now accommodate the work environment their respective companies are trying to achieve.
Axelsen and Bechtel both mentioned the importance of not restraining their employees to an office and providing them with an amenity-rich work space to encourage spontaneous creativity and collaboration.
The second panel was made up of Craig Almeleh, the founder of Arc Tec, Hanson Hom, the director of community development for the city of Sunnyvale, and Tim Steele, the senior director for real estate planning for The Sobrato Organization.
This panel focused on public affairs and the political side of planning and development.
According to Almeleh, California is one of the most regulated in the United States when it comes to real estate development and the regulations should be taught more.
“Architecture will be the easiest thing you ever do in your industry,” Almeleh said. “The politics, the dealing with the state regulatory issues, all the things associated with making a project successful for these large, big corporations is way more paramount than designing a beautiful building."
According to McLaughlin, the Certificate in Real Estate Development program was born out of an idea from urban and regional planning alumni Scott Lefaver and Mark Lazzarini.
He said Lefaver and Lazzarini were both planners and wanted to create a program based on their experience in the field of development, so they donated an undisclosed amount to the department to create a program that combined aspects of both.
“It is important to have people with this certificate and knowledge because contemporary real estate development requires significantly different skills and knowledge from that of the past,” McLaughlin said. “Shifting demand and new planning policies that strategically encourage new real estate development into existing locations is leading to development that is physically different in the complexity of design and location.”