SF Apartment : February 2016
A Wealth of Winners
by Nora Boxer
SFAA President Eric Andresen honored Scott Wiener of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors with this year’s President’s Award. Wiener, who represents District 8 (which includes, among other neighborhoods, the Castro, Noe Valley and parts of Mission-Dolores) has been on the Board of Supervisors since 2010 and has worked tirelessly to address San Francisco’s housing shortage crisis. Andresen cited Wiener’s history of collaboration with the San Francisco Apartment Association, his ability to bring diverse constituents together to create housing solutions and his LGBT community work as the factors that led to the supervisor winning this year’s award.
Wiener has authored a plethora of housing-related legislation during his two terms on the board. These include legislation providing a density bonus for new developments that include affordable units; legislation allowing the addition of in-law units; “micro-unit” legislation; and the Good Samaritan program, which allows interested landlords to provide temporary emergency housing to tenants who have been displaced by disasters. (For more on the Good Samaritan program and how to get involved, please see the feature on page 16 of this issue.)
Accepting his award, Wiener spoke of coming to San Francisco in the nineties as a young gay man and being able to rent an affordable apartment in the heart of the Castro. “I’d like for a young gay man—or straight woman—arriving in San Francisco today to be able to make a home like I did.” Wiener also expressed the need to work together to solve San Francisco’s housing crisis, stating that collaboration and cooperation between government and the seemingly disparate landlord and tenant communities is what crafting sustainable solutions requires.
Property Manager, 1-500 Units
Angel Arrezola, Monogram
First-time nominee Angel Arrezola’s attention to detail and penchant for streamlining day-to-day activities in the office helped earn him the win, but it’s his strong people skills that matter the most. “I really enjoy the daily interaction with our residents. The residents create a bond with you, and it’s a great feeling knowing that they count on you for certain things—it makes you feel needed,” Arrezola said. He has increased resident services at Argenta Apartments as well as made cosmetic improvements. “Seeing residents enjoy the common areas and appreciate the different amenities we offer is another aspect of my job I really love.”
Arrezola was surprised when he heard his name called at the awards ceremony. “I was just happy to be nominated, and to actually win was unexpected,” he said. “It was nice to have the support of my peers cheering me on as I accepted the award.” His SFAA Trophy is now proudly placed on his desk. “Winning an award is always nice,” Arrezola added, “but it means a lot more to me that it came from my peers and people within the industry.”
Property Manager, 500 Units Plus
Jason Kamen, NEMA, Crescent Heights
Jason Kamen has been at NEMA since 2013 and has been in the real estate industry since 2002. His superior service to residents does not go unnoticed—he’s been called “conscientious,” “attentive,” “mindful” and “extremely personable.” Kamen’s hospitality skills, as well as his skills managing his team, earned him the win.
Congratulations are in order for Kamen on multiple fronts. It’s been a busy fall and winter for the property management professional: in addition to winning the SFAA Trophy, he and his wife welcomed a baby in early January!
Administrative Professional of the Year
Mariel Byrne, ParkMerced
First-time nominee and winner Mariel Byrne has a great memory for names, faces and dates—an intuitive skill that allows her to relate to residents on a personal level, keep their stories straight and bring comfort to charged situations. Her skills as an ambassador for Sutro Properties and the tenacity she brings to her work were validated by the Trophy win. “I’m proud that I am in an industry that allows you to go as fast as you can depending on how driven and self-motivated you are—and I am both,” she said.
Calling her team “impeccable,” Byrne enjoys her company’s sense of camaraderie and being part of the real estate industry in the great city of San Francisco. She believes education is one of the keys to her success. “As a female in a male-dominated industry, I couldn’t have achieved so much without the support of SFAA and all the informative property management classes that they offer,” she kindly said.
Resident Manager, 1-100 Units
Chris Canning, Veritas Investments
Chris Canning’s win came as a surprise and a great honor, given that he knows numerous other experienced and successful resident managers in the field whose examples he tries to follow. However, for those who know Canning and his strengths of adaptability, problem-solving and network cultivation, the nomination and the win were no surprise at all. “I love to solve problems,” Canning said, citing this as the most-loved aspect of his work. “I enjoy being faced with new issues that require manipulating numerous variables to serve the interests of tenants, property owners and investors simultaneously.”
Canning’s trophy is now by his desk, a reminder to never stop working to improve his skills and abilities. “While I work very hard to be organized and maintain positive relationships with tenants, co-workers and vendors, I believe the GreenTree family and culture created and cultivated the environment that led to my recognition for this award,” he said of his team. “The Trophy I received is as much theirs as mine.”
Resident Manager, 100 Units Plus
Shawn Englert, Veritas Investments
Shawn Englert cites the level of service he provides to residents, vendors and his team as the main reason he earned the win for Resident Manager, 100 Units Plus. He loves being part of a mutually supportive work cohort. “I have a ‘One Team, One Dream’ attitude that has helped me throughout my career,” Englert said. “I would not be able to maintain the level of service that I provide without the support of my coworkers. I am a firm believer in the Golden Rule—treating others as you would like to be treated—and this team does just that.”
Englert’s attitude regarding his team is not an isolated perception: GreenTree Property Management and parent company Veritas earned five SFAA Trophy awards this year. To read about Veritas’ recent commendation by the Board of Supervisors, please turn to page 16 of this issue.
Assistant Manager of the Year
Joe Medina, Veritas Investments
Veritas’ Joe Medina tends to be the “go-to” reliable person for routine and random requests. This first-time nominee and winner also describes himself as “very organized, with systems in place to make sure I can access information and follow up as needed.” Medina enjoys solving problems and coming up with proactive solutions. “Being able to see and express both sides of a problem really helps in realizing a mutually agreeable solution 99% of the time,” he wisely said.
Medina remains most proud of the relationships he has developed and maintained in his career over the years. Surprised, excited and honored by the award, he now keeps his trophy in the window next to his desk.
On-Site Leasing Consultant
Kevin Ved, Trinity
When Kevin Ved first came on at Trinity, an industry mentor told him that what he’d need to succeed in this business is “grit.” Ved took the advice to heart. His grit is a potent and diverse cocktail of honesty, hard work, aggressiveness, hospitality and the ability to juggle many moving parts while putting himself in his clients’ shoes—and it all adds up to his 2015 Trophy win.
Ved was nominated for the same award in 2014—his first year in the role—but didn’t win. The honor of the nomination, however, “helped me set my goal for 2015,” he said. “Being nominated made me realize I was on the right track with the right company but also made me understand what I was lacking in my position.”
Ved was enjoying a spoonful of ice cream at the Trophies when a colleague tapped him on the shoulder and pointed at the projector screen. As he quickly wiped his mouth and walked up towards his name in big letters, he felt “like I just hit the lottery! All my hard work over the past year was validated.” Ved, who is currently remodeling his home, is on the hunt for the perfect display case for his Trophy.
Leasing Agent of the Year
Danny Liu, AMSI
In addition to being awarded SFAA’s 2015 Leasing Agent of the Year, AMSI’s Danny Liu was also elected 2016 Internal Vice President for the Chinese Real Estate Association of America. “My continued efforts in political advocacy and promoting and organizing housing-related issues sustain a drive within myself of which I am especially proud,” Liu said.
Liu loves knowing that he has helped renters who do not have the abundant resources and myriad choices that some others do to find a new home in San Francisco. He enjoys connecting landlords and renters together and helping make those long-term relationships work. His cites honesty, integrity and a strong work ethic as the cornerstones of his win, which felt “surreal and incredibly exciting.”
Leasing Agent—Affordable Housing
Lisa Moorehead-Carr brings her educational background in organizational leadership, management and social welfare to bear when providing high-level service to her clients in the affordable housing sector. Winning a trophy was a pleasant surprise for this agent who’s worked four years in the field.
Moorehead-Carr’s career has been built on making a positive impact. Her eight-year-old firm, Imagine That Consulting, was originally formed to improve the quality of housing services, but has evolved into a wide array of management offerings. A committed work style also earned her the win. “I believe in fostering partnerships so that everyone invested feels both comfortable and as if they have either gained something or learned something from the process,” Moorehead-Carr said. “This can be a hard thing to achieve but I don’t leave the table until that happens.”
The trophy on her office desk is a reminder to keep doing her part to build healthy and sustainable communities. “There is no greater reward, I believe, than doing what you love in the capacity of being of service to others,” said Moorehead-Carr. “To quote Shirley Chisholm: ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.’”
Independent Owner of the Year
“The multifamily industry is a business of people,” Mark Henderson said. “As such, there needs to be a sense of humanity and heart in the way we interact with tenants, civic authorities and trades—even when they get under our skin from time to time.”
Henderson truly loves creating quality-designed spaces for people to live in and show off to their family and friends. He enjoys working with both interiors and exteriors, and is particularly proud of his initiative to repurpose unused rear yards of apartment buildings into gardens that grow food for donation to local shelters. The project is a win-win, he says, because it marries philanthropy with improved aesthetics and sustainability.
When asked how he felt hearing his name at the awards ceremony, Henderson replied, “Confused. As I was the next presenter at the awards, I could not hear from the side of the stage that I had won. I had to be tapped on shoulder—but I was excited once it settled in.”
Maintenance Manager of the Year
Bayardo Pinell, Trinity
Bayardo Pinell loves thinking outside of the box. “I particularly love being presented with a problem for which there are multiple solutions,” he says. “Having a ‘one size does not fit all’ perspective is one of my stronger traits.” It’s that curiosity, along with his strong work ethic and IT and construction skills that he believes led to his win.
Pinell came to Trinity at the end of 2014 and spent much of 2015 learning, touring and familiarizing himself with the Trinity property portfolio. It was no small task considering the company’s holdings comprise 45 properties and 2500+ units spread across nearly every neighborhood in the city, range from high-rises to single family homes and were constructed anywhere between 1900 and 2013. “I embraced this challenge and hit the ground running,” Pinell says. “I think my most significant work accomplishment during 2015 was the speed and ease at which I learned all I needed to. Within days, I became the point person for maintenance issues and was assigned special projects.” Pinell is in good company at Trinity, as is his Trophy. It’s now on display at the company headquarters, happily ensconced alongside the company’s many other wins.
Maintenance Technician of the Year
Ronald Nalls, Trinity
First-time nominee and winner Ronald Nalls is unsure who nominated him, but cites his strong work ethic, ability and willingness get the job done among his strengths. He enjoys providing plumbing, electrical and general maintenance services to Trinity’s residents. “It makes me happy to come to work knowing that I can resolve the problem. “Every day I leave feeling good, knowing I contributed in some way to the company,” he said.
Nalls was “happy, excited and proud” when he heard his name called at the Trophy Awards. “I didn’t think I would come this far and win this big.” Two years ago Nalls came to Trinity as a janitor; in 2014 he won the company’s Janitor of the Year Award, and in 2015 was promoted to maintenance technician. “I started from the bottom and have been working my way up,” he said.
When asked if there was anything else he’d like to share, Nalls added, “I’d like to take the time to thank the late Angelo Sangiacomo, and give him the honor and respect for even creating this company which allows me to have an opportunity to prosper.”
Industry Partner of the Year
Andrew Zacks, Zacks & Freedman, P.C.
Andrew Zacks has dedicated his 25-year career to advocating for property rights in San Francisco—a difficult assignment. Zacks is proud of his work promoting affordable ownership opportunities in San Francisco and asserting the rights of property owners against confiscatory laws. “Suing the City and County of San Francisco when it adopts absurd, counter-productive and unconstitutional laws...is a passion that requires a certain tenacity that may set me somewhat apart from others,” he wryly said.
When asked how he felt when he won, Zacks replied, “Shocked!!” He doesn’t know who nominated him, but wishes to thank all at SFAA and all who supported him for this award, especially Janan New and Dave Wasserman.
NEMA, Crescent Heights
NEMA’s win for Best Amenities of the Year follows on the heels of its 2014 SFAA Trophy for Best New Development of the Year. Crescent Heights’ “design driven” Market Street property has essentially redefined urban luxury for the new San Francisco.
It’s easy to see why NEMA took the 2015 Trophy, since the property offers a bevy of amenities that range far beyond the typical. Among these are valet parking and a carwash, electric car charging stations, and a dedicated art curator and notary public. The property offers its residents housekeeping, childcare and pet care services; delivery services from organic farms and wineries; and 24/7 spa services in both onsite treatment rooms and residents’ own units. NEMA also organizes excursions to destinations like Tahoe and wine country, transporting residents right from their door.
Beyond these impressive facilities and concierge services, NEMA also brings high-tech convenience to its residents’ lives. An online resident portal accepts rent payments and functions as a hub for communicating with management. Digital touch screens provide in-building messaging and notify residents of guests’ arrivals. Keyless unit entry, a fully-wired building and “smart elevators” all make this a property designed for those wishing to live a true 21st century luxury urban lifestyle.
Green Building of the Year
2175 Market Street, Forest City
Like all Forest City properties, 2175 Market is a residential community focused on ensuring the highest quality of living while working towards having as little an impact on the environment as possible. From its solar water heating to its community garden, the gold and platinum LEED-certified 2175 Market Street has done all it can to deserve the 2015 SFAA Green Building Award.
Forest City’s Evan Janney doesn’t know who nominated the property and said the team didn’t ask their residents to do so. “We are even more honored that the nomination came as a surprise,” Janney said, adding, “especially since we’re in San Francisco, a city which is paving the way for green-friendly housing across the entire nation.”
Repositioned Property of the Year
540 Leavenworth, Veritas
When 540 Leavenworth suffered a devastating fire in 2012, GreenTree Property Management, RentSFNow Leasing and Veritas Investments evaluated the situation as an opportunity for a new beginning. First, every resident displaced by the fire was invited to move into a GreenTree apartment and then also afforded the opportunity to move back into 540 Leavenworth upon completion. Second, the team made a series of creative decisions as to how to best resuscitate the treasured 1914 Edwardian structure while introducing 21st century features.
“The experience of supporting residents and bringing a building back to life is now legend throughout our companies,” said public relations head Ron Heckmann. “The story serves as a template for how our teams address every challenge, keeping the residents first and foremost while honoring structures and neighborhoods.”
Today, 540 Leavenworth contains 44 modern homes in a truly classic and beautiful building. For more on Veritas’ work with the city’s Good Samaritan program, please see our feature on page 16 of this issue.
Best New Development of the Year
Jasper, Crescent Heights
Crescent Heights is no stranger to the winners’ circle. Its NEMA property won this year’s Best Amenities Trophy, as well as the 2014 SFAA Trophy for Best New Development of the Year. Jasper, the team’s newest offering, houses 320 apartments in 40 dramatic stories, offering “never-before-seen sweeping views of the Bay, SoMa and Downtown San Francisco,” says Elle Blinova of the Crescent Heights PR team. In addition, Blinova says the lifestyle-oriented building is utilizing “bleeding-edge technology, a modern take on the royal treatment, and incomparable amenities” to offer the best to its residents.
Local architect Stanley Saitowitz, in collaboration with HKS Architects, drew his inspiration from film noir aesthetics when designing Jasper. The building contains an entire floor devoted solely to amenities. “We are humbled, honored, and inspired to continue providing our residents and guests with the best living experience possible,” Blinova says regarding the 2015 Trophy win.
Stay tuned for a full-length photo feature on Jasper coming up in the March issue of SF Apartment Magazine.
General Manager of the Year
Scott Moore, Veritas Investments
“I thought there was a mistake,” Scott Moore joked when asked about his win. This first-time nominee was humbled to receive a Trophy, and credits his team as instrumental to his success.
Moore, a former military man with a diverse service background, now loves working with property owners on planning and facilitating large-scale CAPEX projects. “It’s so satisfying to see a building transform over a period of time, he said, and then added, “But it’s even more satisfying when the improvements are noticed and appreciated by the users of the space.”
The 2015 SFAA Trophy on his nightstand is a reminder to keep training, leading and motivating his team to be stronger and smarter. “I cannot do my job alone,” Moore said wisely.
Property Management Company
The Real Management Company
2015 marks the sixth consecutive year a Trophy has been awarded to industry vets the Real Management Company, and the second time they’ve won Property Management Company of the Year. “Our team is comprised of deeply-committed professionals,” said president J.J. Panzer. “Each year we challenge ourselves to see what we can do better and each year we surprise ourselves with what’s possible.”
Panzer and his colleagues at RMC love what they do. “We are big fans of our clients and of our amazing tenants, so our team has a great spirit,” he says, and adds, “I am a total apartment nerd. I just love everything about helping clients find, buy and operate great properties.”
Panzer, a native San Franciscan, believes treating people with respect has been key to his company’s success, and he is grateful to his father Joel, his team, colleagues and the tight-knit SFAA community. He wants to remind everyone of the joy that’s part of the job. “There are far more positive relations between owners and tenants than the news reports. It’s important to me for us to get those stories out.”
Nora Boxer is the Interim Editor of SF Apartment Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.