Meet the Winners: MHN’s 2018 Excellence Awards
Developers, dealmakers, designers and others who make a difference by uniting cutting-edge tools with time-honored principles of success.
The 2018 MHN Excellence Award winners represent the multifamily sector’s most innovative and ingenious achievements. Whether transforming an obsolete property into a 21st-century community, creating a cutting-edge design, or turning around an underperforming asset, the designers, developers, executives and real estate managers recognized here set a high bar. Outstanding executives, top property managers and future stars are also recognized.
Gold: Parcels at Concourse
Serving as the former Sears Distribution Center for 56 years, this 1.3 million-square-foot property sat abandoned until developer and owner Crosstown LLC enlisted Looney Ricks Kiss, in partnership with DIALOG and Spatial Affairs Bureau, to bring it back to life. Located in Memphis, Tenn., the $127.9 million Parcels at Concourse was redeveloped into a mixed-use destination offering retail, education, commercial and residential spaces within its core. Quality features of the new development include an event space fit for 1,000 guests, a public art gallery, a 450-seat black box theater, a 20,000-square-foot YMCA fitness center, and a Charter high school. In addition to these uses, the project includes the Parcels, a residential component that offers 265 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units located on the seventh through 10th floors. Parcels at Concourse achieved LEED Platinum certification and is the largest historic adaptive reuse project in the world to do so. Judges were most impressed by the use of and expansion of the property’s current layout to create a project that was the same size but a significant change in how space was used.
Silver: 455 Eye Street Apartments
Developed by Equity Residential and designed by Hickok Cole Architects, 455 Eye Street Apartments in Washington, D.C., successfully incorporated an existing historic warehouse and townhomes with a new apartment tower. Judges applauded the developer’s ability to “build above and around an existing structure,” preserving the facade and massing. Architectural designs for the finished project included refurbishing the existing structures and repurposing them for the lobby, amenity areas and two-level loft apartments. The community features 174 units across 11 stories. Floorplans include studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as lofts and townhomes. Common area amenities include a rooftop pool, a 24-hour fitness center, a resident lounge, full-service pet care, a conference room and an interior courtyard with a firepit and lounge. 455 Eye Street Apartments also offers 2,300 square feet of retail and a 40,000-square-foot parking garage.
Gold: Al Silva’s Team, Marcus & Millichap
The Marcus & Millichap brokerage team led by Al Silva closed 6,649 units during the 2017 and the first six months of 2018, with an average of 142 days from list to close. The judges were impressed by how this team was “supported by clients and was able to execute deals when other firms couldn’t.” Silva’s team continually met pricing expectations, with $374 million in consideration. In 2017, Silva was promoted to senior managing director of investments at the firm and was ranked as the No. 1 private client producer for Marcus & Millichap in the state of Texas, the No. 7 multifamily agent nationwide and the No. 12 overall agent company wide out of more than 1,800 investment sales professionals. Since joining the firm, Silva closed nearly 24,000 units and more than $1.2 billion in investment sales transactions, as well as averaging an industry leading 100.9 percent closed sales price to asking price ratio.
Development & Design: Affordable
Platinum: Keauhou Lane
Impressed by the community being the first LEED Platinum certified property in Hawaii, judges thought Keauhou Lane utilized “innovative, collaborative and modern construction techniques.” Designed by hiarchy llp and developed by Gerdling Edlin, the $54 million mixed-use project in Honolulu represents the first transit-oriented affordable development in the city. The six-story property features 209 units offered in studio, one- and two-bedroom floorplans. A lofted podium at grade level combines 32,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space with a pedestrian concourse spanning the entire asset. Above the podium, there are two separate five-story towers that feature the residential units, along with an outdoor amenity deck merged by a pedestrian bridge. The residential community also aided in the completion of the build- out of a full city block that will house the future Civic Center Rail Transit Station for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.
Gold: ACE 121
Developed by Meta Housing Corp. and designed by Studio One Eleven, Ace 121 in Glendale, Calif., provides 72 affordable units in a five-story building on the historic YMCA campus in the Downtown Arts and Entertainment District. Judges praised the integration of community artwork, the large patios and roll-up doors in some units and the terraces in others that allow artists to work outside, a “maker space” with equipment that includes kilns and pottery wheels, a digital and media lab, a music room, a performing arts room, a community room and a courtyard. The LEED- certified property also includes proper ventilation and plumbing to handle ceramics and paints and soundproofing for the music and dance studios. ACE 121 is 100 percent occupied and cost nearly $20 million upon completion.
Development & Design: Low-Rise
After the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, CetraRuddy Architecture designed Saltmeadow as part of a larger revitalization effort to create resilient homes within the beachside neighborhood of Far Rockaway, Queens. Developed by JDS Development Group, the 30 Saltmeadow townhomes were built with ground floor facades clad in a stone base of quartzite and sedimentary rock as well as permeable pavers that reduce runoff and erosion. Flood vents were utilized to support walls and foundations in the event of a weather emergency, lowering the risk of damage. The two- and three-family units feature windows up to six feet, custom plank flooring, cedar accent walls and marble countertops. Judges felt the development “had a story to tell” and was a way of learning from past mistakes to make weather-related damage in the future less critical.
Gold: The Windward
Praised for its “successful integration into the surrounding neighborhood,” The Windward in Lake Oswego, Ore., was developed by PHK Development Inc. and designed by ZGF Architects. Comprising three distinct buildings over two levels of underground parking, the property features 200 residential units and up to 27 retail and commercial units. Judges were impressed with the development’s ability to “not sacrifice ground floor retail or apartment space, but to make them benefit from each other.” The Windward is targeting LEED Gold certification and recreates a village center feel with buildings being constructed in the Oregon Rustic, Arts & Crafts and English Tudor styles. The final product was 30 years in the making and is becoming a significant landmark for the neighborhood.
Development & Design: Mid-Rise
Gold: Baker Block
The judges were impressed by how Baker Block in Costa Mesa, Calif., incorporates art, “making an isolated location into a vibrant community.” This “visually engaging” property offers 240 units within five stories and is showcased by the use of a 136- by 55-foot Welcome Home mural by activist and artist Shepard Fairey. Developed by Red Oak Investments and designed by Architects Orange, the $80 million project offers residents access to community features such as an Uber/Lyft waiting area, a hot tub and pool with cabanas, a Connect Club Room, a two-story fitness center, a dog park and pet washing station and more. Taking inspiration from the neighborhood’s surf and skate culture, novel design features include balcony rails that accelerate in space, offset window arrangements, and cozy gathering spaces.
Silver: Broadstone Midtown
Developed by Alliance Residential Co. and designed by Brock Hudgins Architects, Broadstone Midtown in Atlanta features a “mid-century deco theme incorporated into the design,” that intrigued the judges. The transit-oriented, $44 million project faced an initial obstacle of a 45-degree height plane limitation from the historic Midtown neighborhood, which the property borders. As a result, Broadstone Midtown was designed to maximize the space and location, with members of the team partnering with the Midtown Alliance to create a community that would fit the neighborhood’s current residents and businesses. Signature features include large patios and terraces, a 24-hour fitness club, a glass-edge pool, a pet spa and run, as well as a Wi-Fi library and Cyber Workspace. The building encompasses 218 one- and two-bedroom units and a total of 327,639 square feet including the parking deck.
Development & Design: High-Rise
Gold: 461 Dean Street
At 32 stories, Brooklyn, N.Y.’s, 461 Dean St. project is the tallest modular building in the world to date. The property, which was assembled through offsite construction at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, offers 363 state-of-the-art rental apartments with 23 configurations options. The LEED Silver certified property achieved high levels of embodied energy and the structure is one-third the weight of a typical concrete building. Developed and owned by Forest City Ratner Cos. and designed by SHoP Architects, the 326,212-square-foot development designates 181 of the units as affordable. Community amenities include a sky lounge and rooftop terrace, a game room, a 24-hour doorman, a yoga and dance studio and children’s playroom. Units are offered in studio, one- and two-bedroom floorplans, featuring stone backsplashes, stainless steel appliances, oversized windows and Caesarstone countertops.
Development & Design: Mixed-Use
Gold: F1RST Residences
Located in the Capital Riverfront neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the 325-unit F1RST Residences adds a vibrant 450,000-square-foot mixed-use waterfront community to the burgeoning location. Designed by Hickok Cole Architects and developed by Grosvenor Americas and McCaffery Interests Inc., the project brings together multifamily, hotel, office and retail. “For this location to combine all these elements into such a great spot, this development has proven successful,” explained the judges. Each of the buildings are connected through an underground, two-level parking garage. Designed to meet LEED Silver certification standards, notable sustainable elements include roof rainwater collection via courtyard bio-retention swells, a cementitious rainscreen and the diversion of 87 percent of the residential construction waste from the local landfill to recycling facilities. The project was designed to favor intimate shared spaces instead of large open areas. Amenities include a second-level clubroom, a hot tub, a dog run, a stadium-style seating area, a fitness center and more.
Silver: Anthem House
Inspired by the architecture of San Francisco Bay, Baltimore’s Anthem House was constructed in an S- shape that provides each of the 292 apartments views of the harbor or city. Showcasing murals by artist Jeff Huntington, the building also features 20,000 square feet of retail and dining and is currently home to Jazz+Soju, Bar Method and Amber. Built to meet LEED Silver standards, the community utilizes sustainable features such as 112 bike racks to encourage the use of alternative transportation, a storm water control system that captures 90 percent of rain that falls on-site, dedicated parking for 23 low emissions and fuel-efficient vehicles, and dedicated recycling and trash chutes. Judges praised the development’s ability to “take full advantage of a site and bring multiple uses … that feed off of each other.” Floorplans are offered in studio, one- and two-bedrooms, with access to amenities, including a barre fitness studio, a coffee-to-cocktail café, a private infinity pool, a dog run and a two-sided fireplace. The project was a partnership between The Bozzuto Group, War Horse Cities and Solstice Partners.
Best Amenity Package
Now the tallest landmark on the skyline of Chicago’s River West neighborhood, SPOKE offers more amenity space per unit than any other new development in the city. The $156 million project, developed by Morgan Bond Cos. and designed by FitzGerald Associates, features 363 units within a 377,999-square-foot property. Impressed by the overwhelming amount of amenities offered at this community, the judges created a new category in order to showcase the originality of SPOKE. Residents of the LEED Silver certified community have access to amenities such as a music bar and lounge, a soundproof studio for musicians, a fitness center, a gaming room with surround sound and a 4k monitor with nine separate screens, a conference center, a one-acre amenity deck, an art program featuring 90 works from 25 Chicago-based artists, 54,000 square feet of dedicated ground level-retail space, a separate Peloton bike studio, a demonstration kitchen, a bike storage and repair room, a family room adjacent to the outdoor deck and more.
Gold: Gables Residential
Judges praised Gables Residential for having a “leadership team that is three-quarters female” and for maintaining its position in the industry despite changes in ownership over the last couple of years. In 2017, the firm had 2,735 apartment homes, totaling $1.4 billion, under active development and lease-up in Denver, Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, Austin, Miami, Washington, D.C. and South Florida. Gables Residential has a dedication to sustainability, reducing its energy use by 5.5 percent in two years and having 46 percent of the firm’s portfolio certified or pursuing green building certifications. The company’s newest move is its Service as Our Signature Amenity, which aims to enhance community and resident satisfaction. The program is currently in its Denver, Houston, Atlanta, and Coral Gables, Fl., properties. Gables Residential also strives for efficient construction methods, utilizing wood and metal wall panelization to reduce waste and increase efficiency.
Executive of the Year
Gold: Bradley Cribbins
Judges cited Bradley Cribbins, president & chief executive officer of the management division at Alliance Residential Co., for managing 3,000 employees and having “maintained the brand and its standards across the country.” Under his leadership, Alliance reached two milestones in 2017 — passing 100,000 units under management and becoming one of the top five largest management companies in the U.S. on the National Multifamily Housing Council’s 2018 list. Cribbins plans on continuing the company’s growth by achieving Alliance 2020, a vision to reach 150,000 managed units. In the past year alone, Alliance has been named in six best places to work and top companies lists. Since joining the company in 2007, Cribbins has been promoted four times. Most recently, he was president & chief operating officer.
Gold: Gables Residential
Launched with the goal of driving resident engagement and retention, Gables Residential designed CAPTIVATE!, a points-based rewards loyalty program that has served 106 communities and 38,700 residents since operations started in January 2017. The app-driven program encourages residents to engage with their communities on social media, such as liking Facebook posts, participating in events, filling out online maintenance requests, taking surveys and more. Within the past year, the program hit a 51 percent resident participation rate, while increasing resident retention by 8.8 percent. The app’s creation has also helped save on operational costs. The program fee is $125 per community, but by eliminating other programs that are no longer necessary, Gables has seen a significant reduction in overall costs. Other major milestones of the marketing app include 200 leads generated in 2017, 2,075 promotions from residents on Instagram, 7,277 new Facebook likes and 28,232 visits directly to the Gables website through the program.
Property Management Company
Gold: Island Palm Communities
Island Palm Communities is one of the largest privatized military residential communities in the U.S., with more than 8,151 homes across six Army installations on Oahu, Hawaii. In 2017, the company exceeded its budgeted revenue by $1.2 million, surpassed its budgeted net operating income by $11 million, reduced controllable expenses by 4.2 percent and reduced its operating expenses budget by $9.9 million through energy conservation initiatives and operational efficiencies. Judges were impressed by how the company was “doing a great job in a tough market that needs more attention.” The company also makes maintenance and resident satisfaction a top priority among its communities. IPC performs more than 72,000 resident-initiated service orders per year, completes more than 3,800 Changes of Occupancy Maintenance annually and, by the end of 2017, the firm had more than 849 days without a lost time incident. The company maintained a 94 percent average occupancy throughout 2017 and continues its customer service initiative by providing resident-focused programing such as National Night Out, Teen Swim Movie Night, Trunk or Treat, Santa Parade, Breakfast-to-go and weekly fitness classes.
Silver: Alliance Residential Co.
The fourth largest multifamily manager in the nation, Alliance Residential Co. manages 443 communities totaling more than 104,000 units. Judges were impressed by the firm’s growth story, stressing that “this company does it right at all levels—design, development, training and management.” Alliance prides itself on building from within and granting opportunities to its associates in order to continue the growth of its corporate culture. Last year, Alliance had more than 40 regional managers working on their Certified Property Manager designation through the firm’s partnership with the Institute of Real Estate Management, with the goal of having 90 percent of its managers achieving the designation by the end of 2018. The company also had 700 associates enrolled in Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage training, a class that teaches associates to view the sales process through the eyes of prospective residents. Alliance also introduced aLIVE, an internal wellness movement focused on improving productivity, morale, safety, community activism and healthcare savings. The company’s total health engagement increased 13 percent.
Platinum: Sara Nemit
Seen by the judges as “a tough woman who dealt with several different obstacles and overcame them all,” GHP Management’s Sara Nemit was a standout for this year’s Property Management award. In 2017, Nemit took over Park Sierra Apartments, the firm’s largest asset in Canyon Country, Calif., with 776 units. Throughout the year, she was faced with numerous troubles, including: five separate building fires, three gang-related incidents that involved media presence, multiple break-ins, a property-wide cockroach extermination project, an 80 percent turnover rate in staff, and 90 roof leaks. Despite all these issues, Nemit successfully renewed 507 of the total units and secured multiple positive Yelp reviews from residents. She is a single mom who managed to be a role model for her son as well as her team members throughout these challenges.
Gold: Yvonne Tomesek
Within the last two years as Peak Campus’ Property Manager for The Clubhouse in Louisville, Ky., resident satisfaction and participation has increased. Prior to Yvonne Tomesek’s arrival, the community had 50 reviews for the year in 2016. After her arrival in 2017, that number had risen to 133 reviews with a star rating of 4.1. The property’s reputation score has also jumped past the industry standard of 577 to 630. Tomesek’s work has secured another two years of master leases from the University of Louisville, despite the university not yet being at full occupancy. Throughout 2017, she was able to surpass her budgeted net operating income by around $191,000 or 7.9 percent above expectation, secure a 45 percent renewal rate and increase occupancy from 88 percent to 90 percent.
Gold: Kate Lanfranco
Having joined GHP Management as culture and service manager just last year, Kate Lanfranco is quickly climbing the company’s ranks. Judges praised Lanfranco’s “lasting imprint” and her “phenomenal 2017 that produced transformational results for the company.” This included her launch of the three-year GFP Vision, building a new talent development and employee engagement system to reflect that vision and elevate the company as a brand, and building better communication practices. Specific impacts included launching the GFP program under the GHP Cares umbrella by building a comprehensive Onboarding and Mentorship program for new team members, implementing the Culture of WOW-moments for teams to go the extra mile to create memorable experiences for residents, initiating the company rebranding with a new logo and website by partnering with the marketing team, launching a new reputation management platform and more.
Gold: Forest City Federally Assisted Housing Portfolio
The judges described Jonathan Rose Cos.’ acquisition of Forest City’s Federally Assisted Housing Portfolio as “herculean.” Totaling 8,000 units in 47 properties across 10 states, the portfolio represents more than $500 million in real estate. Since the majority of the assets are designated as affordable senior housing communities — each building in the portfolio either currently participates in HUD’s Section 8 rental subsidy program or formerly participated in HUD’s Section 236 program —regulatory consent was required for the transfer of all but three of the properties. In addition to the real estate assets and interests, the company also acquired Forest City Capital’s FHA lending and servicing business, now known as Rose Community Capital, and merged the portfolio’s entire corporate and property level management staff into Rose Community Management.
Silver: The Apartments at Mark Center
The $509 million acquisition of The Apartments at Mark Center was the largest transaction in the state of Virginia in 2017. Purchased by Morgan Properties, the deal marked the company’s second largest transaction to date and involved 2,664 units across six communities, which the firm then consolidated into four. Also included in the deal was a 63,320-square-foot retail center dubbed The Shops at Mark Center. Judges praised how the new owners created a “foothold in a market they saw an opportunity in and found new ways to make money within the portfolio.” Morgan’s $35 million value-add repositioning plan includes 656 upgraded kitchens, 2,100 in-unit washer/dryers installations, exterior enhancements and the addition of amenities such as fitness centers, dog parks and sports courts. The firm also obtained the previous owner’s redevelopment planning rights for creating a live-work-play mixed-use Town Center, taking the allowable density from 2.5 million square feet to 6.4 million square feet.
Unbuilt of Today
Gold: Anton Milpitas
Designed by Architects Orange and developed by Anton Development Co., Anton Milpitas in Milpitas, Calif., will comprise 315 units between two buildings. The property will feature a developer-maintained community park that will inspire regional connectivity, as well as two rooftop decks and retail spaces. Aiming for LEED Silver certification, Anton Milpitas will utilize sustainable elements such as metal panel siding with large individual panels, large curtain walls at the stairs, units and corridors that span multiple floors, and the use of wood, metal and stone to create community sculptures. Situated across the street from the new Milpitas BART/VTA Station, the development promotes walkability and will be within walking and biking distance from a variety of employers. It also provides quick access to nearby freeways. Built from a derelict industrial site, judges praised the development’s “use of shape, material, angles, dimension and texture to create interest, not solely relying on a color palette.”
Unbuilt of Tomorrow
Gold: Pier 2
Located in Manhattan, Pier 2 would offer two waterfront towers comprising modular and micro units, coworking spaces and futuristic amenities such as artificial intelligence, home automation, wellness centers, drones and autonomous vehicles. Judges were impressed by how Humphreys & Partners Architects’ design demonstrates that “buildings are static, but construction methods and technology are always changing and have a place in what we build.” Pier 2 includes both horizontal and vertical elevators that will run back and forth within the lower platform—never before seen in a multifamily concept. Each unit would be pre-constructed and shipped to the site, allowing for a higher quality and one-third of the typical construction time. This will also produce a cost savings for the consumer of 10 to 20 percent. Pier 2 is a “reexamination of how we might live in the future,” judges said.
Silver: Halstead Malden Square
Impressed with how the DSF Group managed to “not spend as much money but implemented extensive renovations,” the judges thought the renovations at Halstead Malden Square were “thoughtful in colors, materials and design, instead of relying solely on construction.” Located in Malden, Mass., the 195-unit community received a Halstead brand amenity package, which upgraded and added new amenity spaces to the property. Examples of this include the company’s conversion of a vacant retail space into a fully equipped cardio and strength training fitness center, the addition of the Halstead Club and Lounge that offers karaoke, an iMAC business center and private meeting pods, and renovations to the exterior courtyard area that now features an updated firepit, life-sized games, resort-quality seating and a bocce court. During the renovations, the company had to be strategic with how and when to take the current amenities out of commission without upsetting residents, and they decided not to lease the retail space, utilizing it for resident use instead.
Silver: Park Entrance Apartments
Judges were impressed with how Gateway Multifamily Group was able to “change operations with renovations and increase Park Entrance Apartments’ value from $4 million to $8 million.” The company increased monthly income by more than 80 percent, decreased monthly expenses by more than 47 percent, increased the monthly net operating income by 550 percent and increased the overall property value by more than 80 percent. Management improvements were made by Gateway’s in-house company, Tut and Tut Properties, which implemented the use of its Resident Portal to allow online tour scheduling, tenant screening, maintenance requests, payments and applications. The rebranding of the O’Fallon, Ill., community included exterior renovations to the parking lots, landscaping, pool area, fencing and lighting, as well as upgrades to the interiors and a new name. Park Entrance ties together urban and rural spaces and is inspired by famous urban parks as well as the asset’s close proximity to O’Fallon Community Park.
Editors Honor: Dennis Morris, Michaels Organization
“Looking at what has happened in the industry in the wake of these hurricane disasters, this should be recognition of the heroic efforts that property managers have put in,” explained judges when creating this new award category. Inspired by the Michaels Organization’s property management division, Michaels Management, the judges felt it necessary to give this award to the company’s Dennis Morris, who during the 2017 hurricanes, wasted no time in coming to the aid of his residents. At the Sugar Estates senior housing community in St. Thomas, V.I., Morris hauled buckets of water from the cistern and carried them upstairs to each unit twice a day so that residents could bathe after the damage of Hurricane Irma. This impressive dedication to a community and its residents is what makes this award a tribute to all property managers that continued working under the harsh conditions of these natural disasters.