A Promising Future for the DiLella Mulroy Real Estate Student Managed Fund

In Fall 2018, the Villanova School of Business (VSB) and the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate (DiLella Center) launched the Daniel M. DiLella and Thomas M. Mulroy “DiLella Mulroy” Real Estate Student Managed Fund (the Fund). The Fund’s purpose was to promote a hands-on learning experience for Villanova real estate students by having them research, evaluate and underwrite potential investment opportunities introduced by various Villanova alumni and connected real estate firms.

Since the Fund’s inception, undergraduate students who have managed the Fund have successfully invested in nine opportunities across various asset types—office, industrial, life science, retail, and residential—in states including Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina, Minnesota, Mississippi and Pennsylvania.

Most recently, the student team gained experience by investing in an industrial development fund, Distribution Realty Group’s Fund II, which will provide geographic diversity across the Midwest and Southeast. The fund will develop speculative warehouses in large, established markets and select high-growth markets. 

Students were also recently able to secure an investment as part of Bonaventure’s private non-traded REIT. “Bonaventure’s recent investment transaction with the DiLella Mulroy Real Estate Student Managed Fund is a great example of how our investment vehicles cater to different investment strategies. DiLella Mulroy invested in Bonaventure’s private non-traded REIT which is currently comprised of 10 multifamily assets. We look forward to growing our partnership,” said Chris Cobb, Chief Development Officer.

Over the last four years, graduating students, with the support of Business Fellow Vincent Sanfilippo, strategically pass the baton over to underclassmen/women to see the investments through and ensure the Fund’s portfolio has a promising future. 

"Being asked to serve as the inaugural advisor to the Fund was an offer I was eager to accept,” said Sanfilippo. “The students I have worked with over the past few years are bright and ambitious. The Fund offers them the unique experience to apply their academic coursework to real-world real estate investment transactions. As my four-year business fellow position comes to an end, I would like to thank VSB and the DiLella Center for the opportunity to mentor and share with these students what I have learned throughout my career.”

Three of the funds realized investments have generated returns that have far exceeded expectations thanks to the guidance of Sanfilippo and the Fund’s Investment Committee which currently includes Anthony Albuquerque of Glenmede, Dan DiLella of Equus Capital Partners Ltd., Amy Lancaster of Brookfield Property Partners, Shane McAndrew of Villanova University, Megan McGinnis of SSH Real Estate, Jonathan Miniman of CBRE Investment Management, and Tom Mulroy of T-Rex Capital Group.

Southaven Distribution Center I 

This industrial development deal was the first for the Fund and came from Villanova alumnus Curran Darling ’13 CLAS who currently serves as a partner of Distribution Realty Group. This $15 million sale closed in October 2021 and delivered the Fund actual equity returns of $101,500, 2.03 times the original investment amount with an IRR of 37.55%.

Phil Vecchiolli ’19 VSB, who now works as an investment associate for Warren Avenue Investors in the Greater Philadelphia Area, was the lead senior Fund manager at the time of this first deal’s closing. “Being a part of the DiLella Mulroy Fund was my most rewarding academic experience while studying at VSB,” Vecchiolli shared. “Having the opportunity to take this deal from initial evaluation to the Investment Committee gave me an unmatched competitive advantage as I prepared for a career in real estate. Seeing the success of these deals is a testament to the students for their hard work and to Vince and the IC for their guidance and expertise.” 

Malvern Technology Center II

Matt McDevitt, president, and CEO of Warren Avenue Investors, presented this 80,000 SF flex building to the Fund which closed in December 2020. Not only was a 15-year lease secured and full occupancy achieved 18 months prior to the pro forma, but project returns hit $57,500, a 1.15 equity multiple with an IRR of 28.28%. 

Kelsea Wong ’21 VSB was the lead senior Fund manager on this deal. She now serves as an analyst at Blackstone in New York City. “Most people know that realizations of real estate investments can take years,” she said. “As an alumna, seeing these quick returns is extremely rewarding and is evidence of hard work. I am so proud of the students’ efforts that have come before me and of those after me. The Malvern Tech Center II investment was particularly special as we were able to tour the physical asset and learn more about our own local market.”

95 Inland Port Logistic Center 

Equus Capital Partners, Ltd. co-sponsored this industrial deal that closed in October 2019 in Dillon, South Carolina. The initial investment of $50,000 lead to total equity returns of $113,548, a 2.27 multiple with an IRR of 41.99%. The deal recently sold in February 2022 at a price of $47,500,000 after an initial purchase price of just over $22 million.

Dan DiLella, President and CEO of Equus Capital Partners, Ltd. said, “Participation on a real estate student managed fund is the type of experience that stands out to employers on a college student’s résumé. When these Villanova students enter the workforce, they are well prepared for the challenges that will come. The DiLella Mulroy Fund allows students to see what steps are necessary to ensure the success of an investment. I can speak on behalf of the entire Investment Committee when I say we are excited to see what the future holds for this Fund and the students involved.”

Each semester, the DiLella Center team continues to introduce innovative and strategic ways to enhance the student experience, while also maintaining the Fund’s performance. The Center is actively seeking a new Fund advisor to guide students through the investment process. The advisor is a critical component to the future successes of the Fund; therefore, all candidate referrals are welcomed and appreciated. 

Additionally, the DiLella Center’s young alumni advisory board, the Nova Next Council, will begin to support the student application process, student training, and deal sourcing starting this Fall. With the leadership from Nova Next co-chairs Tim Feron ’11 VSB of Equus Capital Partners, Ltd., Branden McBirney ’10 VSB of Berkadia, and Matt McCormack ’11 VSB of JLL, members of the Nova Next Council will also organize “The Closing Dinner” to be held in June of 2023. This flagship event will bring together Villanova real estate alumni, students, Fund leadership, deal sponsors, and Center faculty and staff to celebrate the DiLella Mulroy Fund and commercial real estate education at Villanova University.

To share investment opportunities or refer a candidate to serve as the new Fund Advisor, please contact Center Director, Jess Taylor at jessica.taylor@villanova.edu no later than September 30, 2022.