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New course combines real estate, urban and regional planning

The College of Business and the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy have joined forces to develop a new interdisciplinary course to be offered this spring semester. The course, Urban Planning and Real Estate Development, will give students in Florida State’s highly ranked real estate and planning programs a unique “insider’s” view of the development process.

“The real estate and planning professionals bring to the real estate development process a very different set of skills, tools, and goals,” said Dean Gatzlaff, the Mark C. Bane Professor and director of the FSU Real Estate Center, who will teach the course jointly with Lindsay Stevens, the Planner-in-Residence in the urban and regional planning program. “Our intent in developing this course is to help the students understand not only the process, but the various stakeholder and decision-maker perspectives.”

The course will provide students with an understanding of the complexities of the development process, help them appreciate the public and private sectors’ perspectives, and identity and differentiate the key metrics considered by public officials, community representatives and the investment/development community, Gatzlaff says. The course will engage key decision makers – federal, state and local officials; business development professionals; investors; lenders; land owners; designers; construction companies; and environmentalists, among them – as guest speakers, panelists, project coaches and case competition judges. 

By involving key decision makers, the instructors hope to give students a better understanding of how the two disciplines must work together to forge development outcomes that are profitable, sustainable, and positively impact the community.

“While developing and teaching shared classes across different college programs has its own set of challenges, we know it’s important for our students to have this experience, and we hope the course can serve as a model for more interdisciplinary work at FSU,” Stevens said.

Initially, the course will be offered to only graduate and upper-level undergraduate students enrolled in FSU urban and regional planning and real estate programs. The hope is to be able to eventually make the course available to students in other related disciplines such as law, finance, economics and public policy.  

The course is made possible by a generous gift of $240,000 from North American Properties – Southeast Inc. The gift establishes the North American Properties Fund for Excellence in Education and will support the continued development, offering, and evaluation of the course over the next five years.

"We have enjoyed a strong partnership with the FSU Real Estate Center for more than three years now, and this course seemed like a logical next step in our shared commitment to producing the best real estate professionals in the industry,” said Shawn McIntyre, NAP Florida partner. "If we can equip these young adults with the ability to collaborate with their industry counterparts, they will become exponentially more valuable to regulatory agencies, planning departments, commercial lending companies, architectural firms and companies like ours."

The Urban Land Institute’s Capital Region Leadership Council also has been instrumental in supporting the initiative by making project and classroom resources available.

By Barbara Ash