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Local Professionals Give Practical Edge to New Real Estate Development Specialization

Students in the Buffalo School’s new real estate development track recently toured Buffalo’s Larkin District with professors David Stebbins (front row, third from right) and Kellena Kane (front row, right). Photo by David Torke

The Buffalo School kicked off its new graduate track in real estate development this fall. The three-semester specialization within the Master of Science in Architecture program closely engages Buffalo’s development community. “

What we do here shows up in the real world,” says Ernest Sternberg, director of the program and chair of urban and regional planning, adding that the program’s first student cohort includes architects, real estate professionals and “micro” developers in the community. “Graduates will have the satisfaction of getting out there, meeting people, handling negotiations and making significant decisions along the way.” 

More than a dozen local real estate professionals have been recruited as adjunct faculty members. We asked several of these practitioners-turned-professors to share their teaching plans for the upcoming year and to reflect on why they chose to get involved in the program.

Meet our Real Estate Development faculty

David Stebbins (BA ‘78), Director, Buffalo Urban Development Corporation

Course: “Process of Real Estate Development,” featuring guest lectures by industry experts, field trips to regulatory approval meetings, site tours of local development projects, and networking opportunities with real estate developers and organizations such as the Urban Land Institute.  

Why get involved? “I have long believed that architecture and planning students should learn more about the real estate development process. That is the greater field in which they will practice…We also need to train real estate professionals with a better understanding of the public interest and how they can contribute to a more sustainable built environment, and still make a profit. This course also provides me the opportunity to learn from and become energized by a new generation of real estate professionals.”

Kellena L.W. Kane, Real Estate Development Manager, Uniland Development Co.

Kellena Kane of Uniland Development

Course: “Processes of Real Estate Development” (with David Stebbins) 

Why get involved? “My passion for real estate development, the built environment and the renaissance of the Buffalo Niagara region motivated me to play a role in the education of the next generation of real estate professionals. It is an invigorating and rewarding career and this opportunity allows me to share my enthusiasm for this impactful industry.”

Christopher J. Hogan, Partner, R&P Oak Hill Development, LLC

Christopher Hogan of R&P Oak Hill Development

Course: “Construction Management,” featuring tours of R&P Oak Hill Development’s active construction projects and role-playing exercises that allow students to explore the interactions and conflicts among contractors, designers and developers as a project moves from inception to occupancy.

Why get involved? “I have worked in construction and engineering for over 36 years and have experienced the peaks and valleys of the market and both great and difficult projects. At this stage of my career I anticipate it will be rewarding to pass my experience on to others in an academic environment.”

Nicholas A. Sinatra, President, Sinatra & Company Real Estate

Course: “Real Estate Entrepreneurship,” engaging students in transformative projects in Buffalo, including Sinatra’s recent adaptive reuse of a mid-town warehouse building into a residential development and his renovation of a former brewery on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus into a mixed-use complex. 

Why get involved? “I’m passionate about the renaissance Buffalo is going through, and real estate development and construction is leading the way. We need to foster interest on all levels, including the proper education of future industry leaders. Plus it will be fun!”

V. Jeffrey LiPuma, Director, CBRE Buffalo

Course: “Market Feasibility,” offering a critical look at real estate projects in the investment, office, retail and industrial market segments. Leveraging LiPuma’s experience with hundreds of commercial projects over a 30-year career, as well as guest lecturers from brokers, developers and lenders, the course will “bring the field to the student.”  

Why get involved? “I had already been working in the commercial real estate market when I went back to school for my MBA. At the time, I saw how underrepresented the concepts of commercial real estate were in that program of study,” says LiPuma, who is also founding president of the New York State Commercial Association of Realtors and president of the NYS Chapter of Certified Commercial Investment Members. “In all this experience, a common thread [has been] the need for better education and qualification of those who want to enter this field as developers, brokers, corporate real estate executives and lenders…This program will undoubtedly teach WNY community leaders in the years to come. I am very happy to be part of that process.”