Q&A with Chaz Mueller of Irvine Company Apartment Communities

Demand for luxury units in Sillicon Valley is still high—and so is the appetite for higher-end amenities. Chaz Mueller walked us through the world of lavish living in one of the country’s hottest markets.
Chaz Mueller

Chaz Mueller

Los Angeles—Southern California has made a reputation when it comes to its supply of luxury residential communities, especially since strict regulations filter all major development initiatives. Irvine Company Apartment Communities (ICAC) is a firm that helped shape the area in terms of new construction and master planned communities. Chaz Mueller, president of ICAC, revealed the company’s most important projects underway and its goals for the coming years.

MHN: What can you tell us about Monticello Apartment Homes? What makes this community stand out?

Chaz Mueller: Monticello Apartment Homes is the newest luxury-style community in Santa Clara. Monticello is a 16-acre mixed-use development of apartment homes, resort-style amenities and approximately 43,000 square feet of curated retail, including restaurants and a specialty grocery store, which creates a community unmatched in the area. It is close to transit and provides unparalleled access to the world’s most dynamic businesses in the market.

The apartment homes feature high-end finishes, stainless steel appliances, walk-in closets, hardwood style floors and the convenience of in-home washer and dryer. The community is also pet-friendly, offers a smoke and vapor-free environment and the convenience of in-home washer and dryer.

Luxury amenities include two junior Olympic swimming pools, outdoor dining with barbecue areas, a fitness center, dog wash, bike shop, bike storage, electric vehicle charging stations, Wi-Fi in common areas and 24-hour parcel lockers.

Monticello also stands out because of the variety of architectural styles that are utilized to create diversity and interest as well as define important areas of the building. Three architectural styles are used—Formal Italian, Early California and Palladian—which are complementary to each other, as well as responsive to the architectural elements established within the overall Master Plan community and the surrounding neighborhood.

MHN: What other major projects are in ICAC’s pipeline at the moment and what can you tell us about them?

Mueller: Another new project in the Bay Area is Santa Clara Square Apartment Homes, which is part of a 100-acre master-planned community that brings together office, retail and residential living, with approximately 1,770 apartment homes, in a sustainable live-work-play community. Santa Clara Square Apartment Homes will offer luxury living spaces and relaxing courtyards, all adjacent to the completed modern Santa Clara Square Office space and specialty shopping center, Santa Clara Square Marketplace. Construction of the apartments has commenced and the first units will become available in 2018.

Redevelopment plans for The Hamptons Apartment Homes in Cupertino were recently approved by the Cupertino City Council, which will transform the existing apartment property into 942 contemporary apartment homes close to Cupertino’s major employers (Apple Campus 2 is across the street), allowing for carless commutes. The new Hamptons will feature a modern design, native landscaping (including a row of 70-foot-tall redwoods), resort-style amenities, connectivity to biking and walking trails, a seamless indoor-outdoor environment and a park that runs through the community.

Other Irvine Company Apartment Communities in Northern California include Franklin Street and The Villas at Blair Island in Redwood City; Crescent Village, North Park and River View in North San Jose; Stewart Village and Cherry Orchard in Sunnyvale and, of course, Monticello in Santa Clara.

Monticello in Santa Clara, Calif.

Monticello in Santa Clara, Calif.

MHN: ICAC has helped shape real estate development in the region. What is the philosophy behind each of the company’s new projects? 

Mueller: ICAC truly wants its residents to love where they live. With that in mind, we listen to our residents’ wants and needs when developing a community or beginning a project.

MHN: How did demand for luxury residential units in the Bay Area evolve in the past few years? How would you describe demand in the present?

Mueller: In general, we have seen the demand for amenities increase. People want high-end finishes in their apartment homes, in line with higher end single-family homes. We receive a lot of positive feedback on the quality of our stainless steel appliances, countertop cabinets, lighting, plumbing fixtures and the fact that we have washers and dryers in each unit. We are also accounting for more online delivery and are installing automated parcel lockers where residents can securely receive packages when they are not home.

MHN: How do you see the multifamily real estate market in the Bay Area in terms of trends and challenges?

Mueller: Rents in the Bay Area are up much more than the national average. There is generally a shortage of housing in the market, which has resulted in higher rents. There are significant barriers to entry to get new construction permitted and that has led to a restriction on new supply throughout the Bay Area. In general, demand for higher-end apartments remains very healthy. Our portfolio was more than 96 percent occupied in July.

MHN: What are ICAC’s goals for the upcoming years?

Mueller: We are continuing to develop in the Bay Area. We have multiple active sites in planning for apartments and are seeking to acquire land for development.

Image courtesy of Irvine Company Apartment Communities