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Richmond, CA, May 8, 2008—For the third year in a row, Mechanics Bank has sponsored and provided one of the judges for the popular National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) "Real Estate Challenge," a contest that pits teams from U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business against each other in a real estate development competition. This year, UC Berkeley engineered a major comeback after three years of Stanford triumphs, pulling ahead by one win in the 19-year record of the event.

Each year, the rival schools square off over a 2-month period to create development plans for a difficult site selected by NAIOP. The winning proposal must thoroughly address market conditions, financial returns, economic feasibility and community needs. The contest culminates with presentations to a panel of seven real estate professionals--and to a luncheon audience of 450 real estate industry professionals--where the teams reveal their plans for the site.

This year's plan addressed the Port of San Francisco-owned Pier 90-94 Backlands in San Francisco, an industrial area with concerns ranging from toxic waste clean-up to the need for job creation.

The winning school receives a check from Mechanics Bank--the Challenge for Charity sponsor-- for its annual graduate business school fundraising program to benefit Special Olympics. They also win the coveted Golden Shovel,named in honor of former NAIOP Board Member, James W. Brecht.

“Mechanics Bank is honored to be the Challenge for Charity sponsor for the third year,” said Robert MacNaughton, senior vice president of Mechanics Bank and a member of this year's judging panel. “Not only is it for a good cause, but it is a privilege to work with the students and to see the high quality of their work.”

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