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How 3 Developers Are Reshaping Silicon Valley's Housing Market

St. Anton Communities division president Ardie Zahedani, Simeon chief investment officer Mike Kim, Sares Regis Group senior vice president Dave Hopkins and Langan senior project manager Vitina Mandella

Given Silicon Valley’s rent growth and high demand, plenty of developers are working on multifamily and mixed-use developments throughout the region. Among the companies actively building new multifamily units are Sares Regis, St. Anton and Simeon.

During a recent Bisnow event, Langan senior project manager Vitina Mandella moderated a panel with these developers to find out more about the newest developments, amenities and how technology will impact multifamily in the future.

Irvine Co. senior vice president of construction and development Todd Arris, Sares Regis Group senior vice president Dave Hopkins and St. Anton director of land acquisitions Zach Anderson

Sares Regis Group has properties in 15 cities from South San Francisco to San Jose, has delivered 1,000 units since the recession and is building 1,000 now, according to senior vice president Dave Hopkins. Another 2,000 units are planned. Sares Regis prefers mixed-use developments near transit.

Hopkins said working on Sunnyvale’s downtown via the Sunnyvale Town Center is among Sares Regis’ most exciting projects. The developer is turning what was proposed as a mall concept into a public realm that embraces 24-hour activity. The developer secured a Whole Foods as an anchor retail tenant and is about to sign a theater to activate the entertainment element. About 200 units that were stalled in 2007 are expected to be completed within the next 12 months.

Sares Regis focuses on providing amenities for bikes, pets and health and wellness. Work-at-home alternatives are increasingly popular, and Sares Regis is looking into ways to open up the leasing office for people to bring laptops instead of using back-of-the-community private rooms to conduct business.

EV charging stations that talk to each other via WiFi to moderate their charges are becoming more common as are smart home capabilities like Nest thermostats, he said.

Simeon chief investment officer Mike Kim

Simeon is planning to develop a 200-unit high-rise in San Jose that is at permit ready status, Simeon chief investment officer Mike Kim said. It recently completed the 21-story Centerra Tower in downtown San Jose, which offers 347 apartments and 7K SF retail.

The developer plans to complete a 600K SF office in Peery Park in Sunnyvale, just broke ground in Oakland and recently completed a mid-rise in San Francisco. Kim said Simeon likes high-density housing and high-rises and is focused on the Bay Area.

Kim said he hopes to see San Jose as the urban neighborhood for all of Silicon Valley. San Jose has three up-and-coming neighborhoods, including San Pedro Square and Cesar Chavez Plaza, but the city needs 15 more of these neighborhoods like San Francisco, he said.

As far as amenities, Simeon focuses on the richness of experience and what residents find outside their doors. The Centerra Tower has all the bells and whistles as far as amenities go. Technology is changing the ways developers consider future amenities, and Simeon added five EV chargers to its recent development with the backbone infrastructure to add more when the demand calls for it.

St. Anton Communities division president Ardie Zahedani

St. Anton Communities specializes in market-rate, mixed-income and affordable housing developments, according to division president Ardie Zahedanif. The company has 1,000 units under construction in Silicon Valley, which includes three projects in Sunnyvale, one in Campbell and a couple of projects in Santa Clara.

Walkability scores are key to St. Anton’s decision as to where to develop next. Zahedani said no matter the market conditions, residences with high walkability scores capture high rents.

Zahedani said his company has spent time and money to survey potential employers and tenants to figure out what they want. He found game rooms have not been well used, but bars where people play pool are incredibly popular. Package delivery also is the first thing prospective tenants ask for, and his company is putting in more package concierge and service desks. Good parking remains a key amenity too, and St. Anton has been able to charge upward of $350 for private garages.

One way St. Anton is merging with tech is creating a lighted system as part of its community next to the Warm Springs BART station that will tell residents when a train is arriving.