With an exciting revised curriculum which highlights the importance of global real estate, second year Baker students participated in the first intercontinental real estate trek from December 19- 22, 2016. For this inaugural intercontinental trip, students visited South Korea. This highlights the second day of the trip, and is the second part in a three part series.
Seoul South Korea has three distinct business districts. These are known as the Central Business District (CBD), Yeouido Business District (YBD), and Gangnam Business District (GBD). Around 70% of all class A office buildings are in these districts. After spending a day touring the CBD on the first day of our trip, we took the second day to tour both YBD and GBD.
The second day of the Baker Program’s intercontinental real estate trek began with a pick up from our hotel in the CBD, as our bus quickly headed twenty minutes south across the Han river. As one of the largest cities in Asia, Seoul is a bustling city, and we could witness this on our morning commute to the YBD. As we neared Yeouido, the multiple towers of the International finance center, completed in 2012, came into view.
Soon we were greeted by our hosts, Korean Real Estate Developer AIG, who ushered us to the top floor of IFC 3. At 284 meters, the international finance center’s third tower is the second tallest building in Seoul, and offers spectacular views of the Han River and the National Assembly Building, which houses Korea’s governing body. The International finance center also houses the five star Conrad brand Hilton hotel, and IFC mall.
After heading to the top of IFC 3, and taking in the views, we sat down for a presentation and a quick Q&A. We discussed multiple development topics involving retail, office, and hotel development. We were then ushered back down and shown the largest underground mall in Korea. It was explained to us that they built the mall underground due to zoning requirements. We discussed technical details of the construction, and enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the mall. After a brief discussion and tour of the Conrad, Hilton’s brand new 5 star hotel, we were off to Gangnam.
The first stop in Gangnam was a visit to Samsung D’light, Samsung’s interactive space which shows off their current and future technology. It was a treat for everyone and was made possible by Junghwan Kang, one of our fellow Baker students. In Samsung D’light, students got a glimpse of how people would live in the future, and how large a role technology will play in the living environment. We also got to try the new VR headsets, which was out of this world.
After Samsung, and lunch on our own, students headed to visit Parnas Tower, a 183 meter tall, luxury office tower with hotel and retail. Students were given a royal welcome by executives of the company, including former CEO Hongseop Song. Parnas tower is owned by the Parnas hotel group, and they had prepared an exceptional presentation. The presentation described their vision for the site, the future excavation of a massive underground train station, and the possibility of Hyundai’s plans for a new building across the street.
These factors helped make the Parnas investment committee confident that this was not only an incredible site, but also a transit oriented development opportunity. As long term players, the Parnas team saw the potential for long term growth. They felt that the new rail station, in particular, could provide an opportunity for new retail and increased foot traffic on the lower levels. In addition, the new rail system would cut commute times to the office tower, which would help their commercial rents.
After this stunning presentation, we were afforded a trip around the tower. The tower allowed students to see exceptional city views, and to take in a very impressive lobby, with exceptionally high ceilings. Then, the Parnas team bade us farewell and students headed outside to get a group picture at the world famous “Gangnam Style” statue.
With brief walk around Gangnam, and a tour of the google campus, we boarded a bus to head to Lotte Tower, the largest tower in Korea, and the 5th largest building in the world. Students were provided a Q&A with Ray Kim, a marketing director at Genstar who is intimately involved in the leasing of the tower. We discussed the design style, zoning issues, and the technical features of the massive core. As we looked over the Han River, students were buzzing, discussing the and comparing the different towers. For people who love real estate, we could not have asked for better hosts and experiences throughout the day.
After a long, and exciting day of Real estate, we capped off the evening with a trip to “Phil Kyung Jae,” where we had the pleasure of trying Royal Korean Cuisine. This restaurant is famous for its food, and is the epitome of traditional Korean Architecture, as it is housed in a residence for Korean royal descendants. Sitting around the table, enjoying food and friends, we had a chance to reflect on all we had seen and heard. What a day, what a trip, what a time to be a Baker student. It was an incredible experience, and for those of us who love real estate, the experience of a lifetime.