Optima Kierland: An Oasis in Arizona’s Desert

Optima President David Hovey Jr. presents the pilot project of Phoenix's newly adopted International Green Construction Code. The four-tower development is underway in Scottsdale.

David Hovey Jr., President, Optima. Image courtesy of Optima

Phoenix is one of the country’s most sought-after markets, by businesses and residents alike, competing directly with the whole of Texas in corporate relocations and expansions. The influx of people keeps demand for multifamily apartments elevated and development is surging across the board.

One notable project currently underway is Optima Kierland Center, a luxury four-tower enclave with an affinity for green-building design located about 30 miles from downtown Phoenix. The second phase of construction, consisting of two 10-story towers, is slated for delivery in 2020. Optima—the architect, developer and general contractor of the master-planned community—engineered the development to produce a zero-energy performance index of 49.8 and expects it to use 10.4 percent less energy than a code-compliant building based on ASHRAE 90.1 2010 requirements. 

Multi-Housing News talked to Optima President David Hovey Jr. about this pilot project and what it means for the city’s newly adopted International Green Construction Code.

What is the vision behind Optima Kierland and what sets it apart from other projects in the area?

Hovey Jr.: Optima Kierland is the next step in the evolution of our architecture. From the start, we wanted to set the design and development standard for Kierland by creating a public park system. This was possible by keeping parking 100 percent underground, which allowed for 70 percent of the space at grade level to remain open. This arrangement enables our residents and neighbors to enjoy a lushly landscaped oasis in the urban Kierland setting.

Optima Kierland. Image courtesy of Optima

Optima Kierland. Image courtesy of Optima

We also wanted to improve the vertical landscape system that we implemented at Optima Sonoran Village. Our vision is to bring nature into our residents’ homes by screening the sun, providing privacy and lowering the ambient temperature. We designed each tower to have its own private amenities package with world-class amenities at grade level and on the roof. One of the most unique design features of the project is on the negative edge roof deck: The handrail on the concrete roof deck is placed 30 inches below the walking surface, enabling a wider, unobstructed downward view, which gives a similar feeling to standing on the edge of an aircraft carrier.

Rooftop at Optima Kierland. Image courtesy of Optima

What is the current status of the project?

Hovey Jr.: The second phase of the development is underway, with construction ongoing for 7140 Optima Kierland, our second luxury rental tower, and 7180 Optima Kierland, our second condominium tower. Both will be delivered next year.

Tell us more about Optima Kierland’s floorplans and amenities.

Hovey Jr.: We design flexible, open floorplans with floor-to-ceiling glass to allow for unobstructed views, abundance of natural light, interconnected and functional indoor and outdoor space. We design our plans in a way that allows for easy customization and combination, so our buyers can create a truly personalized home.

Community lounge at Optima Kierland. Image courtesy of Optima

Each tower is highly amenitized: Our rooftop amenities are a signature element of the development and include a lap pool, spa and outdoor lounge areas, therapeutic spa, steam shower, sauna, outdoor showers, full kitchen with covered bar, flat-screen TVs and fire pits. Both 7140 and 7180 Optima Kierland rooftops will also include a running track around the perimeter. Additional amenities include landscaped courtyards, water features, sun decks, barbecue areas and a dog park. A theater room opens to an outdoor party room and lounge area. 

The basketball court at Optima Kierland. Image courtesy of Optima

The basketball court at Optima Kierland. Image courtesy of Optima

At grade level, a glass-enclosed, 16,000-square-foot fitness center will be equipped with state-of-the-art cardio equipment, weight machines and performance areas. We’ve also included indoor basketball, squash and pickleball courts, an indoor golf simulator, steam rooms, massage rooms, outdoor AstroTurf areas for sport-performance work and other training as well as onsite health and wellness coaching via ProCore Performance. Additional wellness features include meditative yoga studios that open to Zen gardens and outdoor meditation spaces with water features.

Building in the desert comes with a special focus on sustainability and energy efficiency. Is there a standard suite of sustainable features Optima implements in its projects? Tell us more about these features.

Hovey Jr.: Optima Kierland is the pilot project for Phoenix’s International Green Construction Code, an alternate sustainability program to LEED. The IGCC focuses on material resource efficiency, energy efficiency, water resource efficiency and indoor environmental quality.

Optima Kierland

Optima Kierland. Image courtesy of Optima

Optima’s signature vertical landscape system and 70 percent open space not only filter the air, but also reduce the ambient temperature by up to 10 degrees. Our use of high-performance glazing and overhangs, paired with the building’s configuration and exterior shading devices, will provide anticipated energy savings of nearly 20 percent over the code’s goals.

What challenges have you faced while developing Optima Kierland and how did you overcome them?

Hovey Jr.: The biggest challenge is that we allow our buyers of 7120 and 7180 condominium towers to fully customize their homes as well as combine multiple units. I am not aware of any other developer that allows customizations to this level due to the complexity of coordination of different trades and procurement of equipment and materials. 

How would you describe Optima Kierland Center residents? 

Hovey Jr.: Our residents are people who want a premier location that’s a short walk across Kierland Boulevard to world-class shopping, dining and entertainment. We believe that our residents are proud of the architecture, love the upscale amenities and are looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle.

Optima Kierland. Image courtesy of Optima

How do you identify the most suitable areas for your projects?

Hovey Jr.: To us, location is the essential factor. We look for properties located in urban cores that are within walking distance of shopping, dining and entertainment centers.

How do you expect this new master-planned community to impact Scottsdale/Phoenix’s multifamily market?

Hovey Jr.: The additional residential units, which command the highest rents in the valley, will further cement the area as an important north Scottsdale/northeast Phoenix urban core that will benefit both communities over the long term. The total economic output generated by the development is projected to be $461 million.

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