CREW Careers Update: The Next Generation of Retail Brokers
As a follow-up to our CREW Careers Program blog, posted on March 25, 2019, we would like to share some additional input regarding the site visits we created for the students at Centennial High School in Roswell, GA.
On April 16, a group of business students, escorted by their teachers, walked to the nearby Centennial Village Shopping Center on Holcomb Bridge Rd. to hear from the shopping center’s leasing manager, Whitney Spangler , Vice President of Colliers International, who has also been an active member of CREW Atlanta. Whitney, focused on the currently vacant Kohl’s building, brought the students inside the 86,584-square-foot facility to provide input regarding its current status and availability. In addition, she provided input regarding the entire 213,268-square-foot shopping center, anchored by Kroger. Following the comprehensive comments by Whitney, we asked the students for their thoughts on potential tenant(s) to the Kohl’s space, which resulted in good ideas, such as sporting and health-related activities, and expansion space to the high school.
Whitney expressed her enthusiasm leading up to and including the site tour of Centennial Village by providing the following input: When I get a call from a friend and fellow CRE professional from CREW, it always grabs my attention. So, when Jen Nyquist, with whom I co-chaired a CREW university program (UCREW) in the past, asked me to tour a group of high schoolers through a vacant retail space, I knew this would be an awesome opportunity. It was unlike any tour I’ve been on. Instead of receiving questions about the mechanicals of the building, the students brought fresh eyes to the space. I was so impressed! They were curious, insightful, and courteous. But more than that, they listened, which was more than evident when, a week later, I received a stack of about 25 handwritten thank-you notes talking about possibilities. Their feedback included what tenant might fill the vacancy and, more importantly, the possibility that these students could turn into the next generation of retail brokers.
The second tour, the following day, April 17, saw the business students of Centennial High School arrive by bus to Avalon, a modern mixed-use development built by North American Properties. There was an hour-long panel discussion at Hotel Avalon moderated by CREW-member Michelle Lara, VP of Acquisitions & Development, Lincoln Property Companies; CREW-Member Heather Lamb, First VP of Advisory & Transaction Service, CBRE; Aniela Respress, GM of Avalon; and Cayley Mullen, Marketing & Hospitality Manager at Avalon, all of whom provided great insight into North American Properties’ vision and the development process. The students were busy absorbing the input before asking questions of the speakers that helped clarify discussion points that they had never considered while shopping on the weekends at this very successful development. Following the panel discussion, the students were escorted through the streets and buildings of Avalon by the presenters to learn more about all the individual property types, such as retail, restaurants, office and residences. The tour ended with a CREW-generated Chick-fil-A lunch for the students before they bussed back to Centennial High School. As before, the students expressed their gratitude to the speakers with much-appreciated handwritten thank-you notes.
Michelle added the following thoughts regarding her experience as a presenter: Being a part of the Avalon tour and moderating the panel was a truly rewarding experience for me. It was my first opportunity to interact with students that are actively making life/career choice decisions as they navigate their final years of high school. When I first heard about CREW Careers, it appealed to me because of the struggles I encountered while trying to find a career path that was the right fit. As a member of this sub-committee, I hope to help our youth navigate their future career choices by learning from my experiences, both good and bad. Acting as the moderator of the panel allowed me to expose the students to many different facets of commercial real estate represented within Avalon. I believe the event was a great success. Everyone, including the students, brought value to the discussion, which resulted in a shared learning experience. I feel we may cross paths with one of these students in a couple of years, only to find that they did indeed choose a career in the field of commercial real estate.
Overall, the two CREW Careers Programs, both the classroom and tour portions, were very successful for all involved. As this is the first year of this program, we believe there will be many more years to come as a way to educate our current students about this great industry and the great association that lends it support to this vision in our local communities: CREW Atlanta.
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