The Wood Center will be amplifying the voices of students taking part in real estate-focused summer experiences in a student-produced series called Internship Reflections. Hear first-hand about the amazing professional development, project sites, and real-world real estate opportunities these students are being exposed to. This is the fourth installment in the 2023 Internship Reflections series.
By Ford Jolley
This summer I had the privilege of working at Alpine Investments in Denver, CO, as a Development Intern. Alpine is a real estate development firm focused on upscale, urban infill projects in and around Denver. This gave me the unique opportunity to work alongside and learn from two partners with extensive development experience, Churchill Bunn (‘06, ‘12) and David Pietsch. While working with Churchill, David, and the rest of the Alpine team, I was able to gain exposure to projects in multiple asset classes including multifamily, mixed-use, and office.
One of the most interesting projects I was assigned was to complete certain due diligence efforts regarding a potential development site in a suburb of Breckenridge. This included a tour of the site, meeting with the seller, analyzing the market, assessing environmental reports, and running proformas. After completing these tasks, we would discuss the results as a team, which gave me an opportunity to present my findings and learn how the rest of the team thought about and approached various phases of the due diligence process. This firsthand experience was a great learning opportunity and allowed me to get a meaningful glimpse into the world of real estate development.
Alpine is constantly looking for new ways to differentiate themselves in the market, which has led to their exploration of innovative construction methods, including modular home manufacturing and Mass Timber construction. As Alpine was considering using modular home manufacturing for a project I was working on, I had the opportunity to tour one of these manufacturing facilities and see firsthand how these homes were built. This was an incredibly valuable learning experience as this kind of home building will only increase in popularity in the coming years. Similarly, Alpine was considering using Mass Timber for one of their future projects, so I was able to attend a presentation with one of the nation’s leading Mass Timber experts. As I was not familiar with this type of construction, this was an eye-opening experience. I learned a great deal about the advantages and disadvantages of Mass Timber, which will serve me well because I believe we will begin to see it used more frequently in the future.
After spending my summer with Alpine, my desire to work in the real estate development space has only become stronger. While working alongside the Alpine team, I realized that real estate developers are running into new challenges each and every day, and a successful developer learns to take these challenges in stride and quickly figure out how to solve them. I have come to appreciate that all of the issues faced throughout the cycle of a project are well worth it when that project turns out to be a success.