2019 SUMMER INTERNSHIPS SERIES: LERA COVINGTON, LENDLEASE

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Lera Covington

Lera is a third-year dual degree candidate pursing an MPS in Real Estate and Masters of Regional Planning at the Baker Program of Real Estate and the Department of City and Regional Planning. Lera has a passion for transforming communities through the power of real estate. Upon completion of her studies at Cornell, Lera intends to embark on a career in real estate acquisitions and development, focusing on residential and mixed-use projects that have a positive social impact.
Lendlease’s iconic Barangaroo South development in New South Wales, Australia. Photo Credit: Lendlease.

This summer I had the privilege of working as a Summer Acquisitions Associate with Lendlease’s New York City office.  Lendlease is an Australian-based firm that offers services in construction, development and investments.  The company was founded in 1958 by Dick Dusseldorp.  Mr. Dusseldorp was a pioneer in his application of the triple bottom line approach to business, stating that “the time is not far off when companies will have to justify their worth to society, with greater emphasis being placed on environmental and social impact than straight economics.”  Lendlease has completed projects all over the world with offices in Australia, the Americas, Europe and the Asia Pacific.  The company has a market capitalization of $8.4 billion with 13,000 employees worldwide.  As of June 2019, Lendlease has a $52.5 billion development pipeline, $22.2 billion in funds under management, $9.4 billion in assets under management, and a construction pipeline of $15.6 billion.  Within the development arena, Lendlease excels at urban regeneration projects that transform the fabric of cities.  Some of the company’s most renowned projects include Barangaroo South in Sydney, Australia and Elephant Park in Southwark, London.

Best known in the U.S. for its construction prowess, Lendlease has built more than 4,800 projects across the nation in the last 20 years.[1] This includes the construction of iconic sites such as the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and the restoration of national treasures like the Statue of Liberty.  Lendlease’s Americas direct investment strategy began around 2014 with the company’s decision to focus on U.S.  gateway cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.  To date the company has a cumulative total development pipeline of $3.8 billon within these markets representing 5,700 units. This Americas development strategy was further strengthened in 2018 by Lendlease’s launch of a $2 billion multifamily fund  with First State Super, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, and by the recent announcement of a $15 billion deal with Google to develop the company’s landholdings in three cities within the Silicon Valley area.[2]

My role as an Acquisitions Associate this summer was everything I could have imagined and more.  As a Summer Acquisitions Associate, I worked alongside the NYC Acquisitions team to identify new investment opportunities.  I worked on underwriting multifamily rental, condo, office and retail projects across the NYC metro area.  No day was the same and there was truly never a dull moment.  Some days were filled with visits to possible acquisition sites, meetings on public RFP offerings, and calls with brokers regarding properties up for sale.  Other days were filled with research on underlying market conditions in an area, pulling rental and sales data on comparable properties, and uncovering details on the development pipeline for a given submarket.  And yet still other days were filled with performing due diligence on alternative development scenarios, researching the Board of Standards and Appeals process for variance approvals, examining tax abatements and PILOT structures, determining affordable housing requirements for a jurisdiction, and much more.  One of my favorite aspects of the summer was “making the sausage,” a term my manager used to describe underwriting the value of a potential acquisition.  It was always intriguing to see how the multitude of assumptions and data points gathered during the underwriting process came together to estimate the value of an asset.  The most memorable aspect of my internship was helping to organize and attending a mini charrette for a RFP response that I worked on throughout the summer.  Interacting with the diverse group of stakeholders at this event was a great experience.

Left: 100 Claremont , a 42-story residential project in Morningside Heights. Right: 277 Fifth Avenue, a 55-story luxury condominium project in NoMad. Photo Credit: Lendlease.

During my internship I was exposed to other areas of Lendlease beyond acquisitions.   I attended project team meetings, design meetings, and marketing meetings for the 277 Fifth Avenue and 100 Claremont Ave development projects.  I also had coffee chats with colleagues in cost planning, research, capital transactions, and other areas to broaden my knowledge of the company.  Moreover, I joined fellow interns for site tours of construction projects such as the Javits Center expansion, which is a joint venture between Turner Construction and Lendlease.

Senior Editor Lera Covington touring the Javits Center expansion project construction site this summer. Photo Credit: Lera Covington

All in all, I had an amazing internship experience with Lendlease this summer.  The skillset that I honed during this internship and the insight that I gained from my colleagues were phenomenal and will benefit me for years to come.  I know that there are great things in store for this NYC development team, and I look forward to seeing the transformative projects that they will produce in the future.

[1] Lendlease 2019 Annual Report

[2] Pham, Sherisse. (2019, July 18). Google will build 15,000 Silicon Valley homes as part of a $15 billion project. Retrieved from CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/18/tech/lendlease-google-homes/index.html

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