ON LOCATION: The Vistas of West Hills

Simply memorizing a face and equating it to an apartment number isn’t Julie O’Dell’s idea of exceptional service.

Photography and text by Joshua Ayers, Contributing Editor

Simply memorizing a face and equating it to an apartment number isn’t Julie O’Dell’s idea of exceptional service. The Vistas of West Hills’ director of community operations is aware of the correlation between establishing relationships with residents and keeping them around. “Your resident retention starts from the second [a prospect] walks in,” O’Dell says.

The Vistas of West Hills in Valencia, Calif., was developed by LNR Property Corp. and is managed by Greystar. Community resident Ismail Abdul-Nasr says that he chose the community in July after sub-par experiences with other prospective apartments in the area.

Another resident, Cynthia Furr, who moved to The Vistas of West Hills after selling her home, was primarily attracted to the community because of its safety.

Furr, a teacher and South Carolina transplant, spoke about the community’s “local heroes” incentives in which working residents can receive benefits such as reduced deposits.

Abdul-Nasr and Furr were also enthusiastic about the community’s resident events. O’Dell says she tries to have at least one event per month. These cuisine-oriented gatherings allow residents to become familiar with local restaurants, as O’Dell has tried to feature food-themed events that draw upon food from local eateries.

Exceptional customer service is only one marketing facet of this success story. The area’s growth in the past five years, which has included an expansion of the adjacent Copper Hill Road from two to six lanes and another roadway connection that now provides access to nearby highway 126, has helped to escalate the community’s drive-by potential, something O’Dell says has been key during these strained economic times.

Curb appeal isn’t the only factor when it comes to attracting new residents, though. O’Dell says that the current home market in the area is also helping the community to “absorb some people coming out of homes or looking to buy in the area.” In fact, the management’s original budgeted traffic number for prospects was 60 per month. The community has exceeded that target number by nearly 30 percent.

“The property speaks for itself. There are still people that want the new, the nicest and the [best] quality,” O’Dell says.

The Vistas of West Hills doesn’t skimp on any of those factors. The 220-unit hybrid of modern Spanish colonial and mission architecture features a sprawling, gated courtyard with a brick-trimmed resort-style pool and sizable spa, in addition to two full-sized stainless steel gas barbecues, an outdoor lounge with fireplace and detached clubhouse for private events. Topping off the community’s amenities are the fitness center, computer lounge, and garage and covered parking.

The six floor plans, ranging from one to three bedrooms with monthly rents between $1,375 and $2,500, include fully equipped, granite-clad gourmet kitchens with free-standing islands, premium cabinetry and fixtures and wood-toned laminate flooring.

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