By 2014, many of the largest buildings in the heart of downtown Macon had been converted into new lofts and vibrant storefronts. At this point, NewTown realized a mismatch between the available housing stock and our stable of local developers. Our most active developers preferred projects over $2 million, while many of the buildings still empty represented much smaller projects. To address this issue, NewTown launched the Developer’s Academy, presented by BB&T, an intensive six-class course designed to teach the basic skills necessary to develop real estate in downtown Macon.
Graduates of the class are able to create professional quality project proposals for investment property, including construction, development and operating projections. These skills provide graduates with the ability to put together and/or invest in new construction and historic rehabilitation investment opportunities in downtown Macon, and to understand and leverage all of the relevant incentive programs, including historic tax credits.
The program has been very successful in recruiting new local developers to smaller projects throughout downtown. In fact, graduates from prior courses already have three properties containing six storefronts and twenty-six loft apartments under development!
The Academy is designed for novices. Attendees need not have any prior real estate investment or development experience. The Academy is designed as an introduction for people with an interest in developing in downtown Macon who do not know how to get started. Even veteran developers will benefit, however, from the intensive focus of the Academy on downtown development. Graduates will obtain a much deeper understanding of the downtown market, ensuring that they are able to maximize return on investment. In addition to developers and prospective developers, other individuals can benefit from the Academy. Lenders can gain knowledge to improve underwriting. Tax professionals and financial advisors can become more adept at advising clients who invest or could benefit from investing in tax credits. Volunteers and non-profit board members can gain skills and expertise to become more effective in advocating and designing revitalization projects. Government and elected officials can find new ways to leverage public/private partnerships and ensure maximum value for taxpayers. If you are interested in real estate development, the Academy can help teach you the language that developers speak so that you can be an informed participant in real estate development professionally and/or in your neighborhood.
Graduates will leave the program with a complete toolkit to launch real estate development projects. Graduates will be prepared to guide developments from purchase and sale agreements (contracts to acquire/sell property) all the way to lease up and operation. Every graduate will leave with a custom-designed five-year operating pro forma and the ability to use this tool to evaluate projects.
Learning the Basics
Attendees will learn about the economic benefits and motivations for real estate investment. The class will cover the usual players in real estate transactions and the lexicon employed by real estate investors. Finally, attendees will begin to learn how to evaluate return on investment in potential projects, including learning the basics of borrowing money and creating an operating projection for a potential project.
Finding the project
Attendees will continue to learn additional concepts in evaluating potential return on investment and put the skills from the first class to work by evaluating real-world projects through in-class exercises. Attendees will translate these concepts into a real estate pro forma for the first time. Next, attendees will learn how to find opportunities in the marketplace and quickly estimate feasibility to zero in on feasible projects. Finally, the class will explore and discuss a few creative acquisition strategies to obtain feasible projects.
Closing the gap
Attendees will dive into financing tools and strategies that can be used to make marginal deals attractive to investors and lenders. The class will also learn about tax credits, tax abatements and other tools that can enhance the economic returns on projects. The class will test the impact of various financing strategies and tax incentives on sample projects and learn how to pick and choose appropriate programs to make projects produce more income, attract investment and gain loan commitments.
Design the project
The class will learn more about preparing persuasive and effective loan applications for lenders and the required components of loan applications. As a part of building applications, attendees will learn how to expand the operating projections that we have been using into complete pro formas by learning additional schedules that support these projections such as feasibility schedules. In evaluating maximum efficiency for rentable space, we will begin to learn how architectural design impacts return on investment and how to design projects that are eligible for tax incentives. Attendees will enjoy an interactive discussion with practicing architects specializing in downtown projects.
Get it built
The class will learn the basics of the developer’s responsibilities in construction management. Attendees will learn about real world problems, obstacles and unforeseen circumstances that threaten projects. In addition, the class will learn about tools and tricks to save money and gain value through design and construction. Finally, attendees will develop the final schedules to complete bank-ready pro-formas, including budgets for soft costs, construction costs and sources and uses summaries. By the end of class 5, attendees will own a complete digital pro forma workbook and will be able to complete professional projections on projects to entice investors and lenders.
Start making money
In the last class of the Academy, attendees will need to combine all of the skills and expertise developed over the past five classes to persuade a group of real estate professionals that the attendee has the skills and knowledge to graduate from the Academy. Each attendee will prepare a project proposal including a complete five-year operating projection for an actual vacant property in downtown Macon. A group of real-world lenders, contractors, developers and real estate investors from Macon will judge the presentations, decide whether the attendee has successfully mastered real estate development and award diplomas to graduates.