USA Properties Fund completes lease up of Vintage at Sycamore

As of February 28th, the lease up of Vintage at Sycamore, a 99-unit affordable senior apartment community, has been completed, a little less than a year after construction began.

This lease up was a monumental effort led by Teri Brown, Regional Manager, and Megan Underwood, Compliance Manager, who, along with their teams, processed and moved in 99 households in a 30-day period.

Vintage at Sycamore 100 percent occupied sign

In addition to the leadership of Teri and Megan, we would like to acknowledge those that worked tirelessly to lease apartments, process applications, and get the apartments and buildings ready for residents to call home. This includes:

• Madeleine Garcia, Community Manager, Vintage Crest Senior Apartments
• Joanne Salinas, Community Manager, Vintage Paseo Senior Apartments
• Daniel York, Community Manager, Avenida Crossing
• Megan Bonham, District Compliance Auditor
• Ben Viramontes, Maintenance Supervisor
• Kerry Eldredge, Senior Superintendent, USA Construction Management
• Nancy Menchaca, Assistant Superintendent, USA Construction Management
• Mark McDermott, Project Manager, USA Construction Management
• John Kozler, Senior Project Manager, USA Construction Management

Introducing Aurora, a 162-apartment community in Gold River, CA

Amenities include a clubhouse, heated swimming pool, dog park and bike repair station

GOLD RIVER, Calif. – USA Properties Fund Inc. has started construction on Aurora, a bike-friendly, luxury apartment community in Gold River, with easy access to the American River Parkway, restaurants, shopping, public transit and Highway 50.

The 162-apartment community, located at 2220 Cemo Circle, is the first new multifamily development in almost two decades in Gold River, a master-planned community known for its miles of nature trails, mature trees and lush landscaping about a mile south of the American River in Sacramento County.

“Aurora will be a one-of-a-kind apartment community that offers something for everyone, whether you’re an avid cyclist or a family that enjoys a leisurely walk to a nearby coffeehouse or the grocery store,” said Geoff Brown, President of USA Properties Fund. “We’ve been looking at this property for years, and are excited about the opportunity.”

The apartment community – featuring one, two and three-bedroom homes – will have a long list of amenities, including a clubhouse with a fitness room, hospitality kitchen and multiple lounge areas; a heated swimming pool; and a dog park and pet-wash area. The first residents could start moving in March 2022.

“It will be a real eye-opener in a wonderful community,” said Gabe Gardner of the USA Properties’ acquisition team. “It’s a suburban infill site that is pretty rare to find.”

Housing and transportation

The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) bought the eight-acre parcel for a possible park-and-ride lot for the nearby Sunrise light-rail extension in 1986. But two decades later, SacRT determined the land was not needed for its original purpose and started looking for a multifamily developer to help meet Sacramento County’s housing needs. SacRT and USA Properties have been in discussions for the property the past few years, and completed the transaction in recent weeks.

“Lack of housing is an ongoing challenge in the Sacramento region, and we are glad to see much-needed high-density housing will be built on this vacant property,” said SacRT General Manager/CEO Henry Li. “This is a perfect example of how public and private entities can partner together to improve the livability of the region.”

Aurora will offer more housing – and more options for residents to get around the Sacramento region.

The apartment community will help boost public transit ridership, with a bus stop a few blocks away and a half-mile from the Sunrise light rail station with direct routes on the Gold Line to downtown Sacramento and Historic Folsom. Aurora is also a couple blocks from Sunrise Boulevard – a popular north-south route – and a half-mile from Highway 50.

And Aurora will likely become a popular choice for those who prefer pedal power to horsepower. The apartment community will have 179 bike racks and a bike repair station. Residents will be close to the Sunrise Corridor Bikeway that connects with the Jebediah Smith Memorial Trail that runs along the American River.

A more like-home-feel with quartz countertops, vinyl-plank flooring, and full-size washers and dryers

Aurora will have seven, three-story buildings and a lengthy list of amenities and features for residents. In addition to the clubhouse, fitness room and swimming pool, Aurora will include an outdoor kitchen with barbecue grills, fire pit areas and a large patio.

All apartments will include vinyl-plank flooring, stainless-steel appliances, quartz countertops, a tile backsplash, and a full-size washer and dryer. Two-bedroom and three-bedroom homes will have two bathrooms, including a large, primary bathroom with a walk-in shower, Gardner said. Aurora will have 66 one-bedroom, 84 two-bedroom and 12 three-bedroom homes.

Aurora will include 291 parking spaces, including 24 garages and 162 carports.

Aurora’s more-like-home feel comes as an increase of people, many from the Bay Area, are looking to move to the Sacramento region. The average two-bedroom apartment in the four-county region has soared almost 20% during the past year, the biggest increase among the nation’s largest 100 cities, according to Zumper.

Nella Invest and East West Bank are partners with USA Properties on the $48 million project.

Nella Invest maintains a real estate portfolio spread throughout four western states, consisting of mobile home communities, office buildings, car washes and a Hyatt Place hotel.

“Aurora is our first venture into multifamily housing,” said Richard Teske, Investment Chairman of Nella Invest. “This project and our partnership with USA Properties Fund, are representative of how we seek to partner with industry leaders to bring valued and meaningful product offerings to the communities which we serve.”

USA Properties Fund, one of the leading affordable apartment community developer-builder-managers in the West, continues to expand in the market-rate apartment industry. The 40-year-old company has several market-rate apartment communities completed or in development in California, including two in the Sacramento region – Talavera Apartments in Folsom and Harvest at Fiddyment Ranch in Roseville.

“USA Properties and our partners are investing in the community, and we’re always looking for opportunities,” Brown said. “Every apartment we build – affordable or market-rate – becomes a home, and helps meet the desperate need for more housing in the state.”

USA Properties partners on modular construction projects

Company invests in factory and an affordable apartment community in San Jose

Just over two years since breaking ground, Autovol is now using automation in new ways as it nears completion of its first major affordable housing project. The project, Virginia Street Studios, will make high-quality apartment homes more affordable to seniors in San Jose, one of America’s 10 most expensive cities.

(Editor’s note: USA Properties Fund is an investor-partner in the Autovol factory and Virginia Street Studios)

The 400,000-square-foot Autovol factory has now successfully deployed its unique combination of construction trades and robotic automation. Autovol has hired more than 100 employees, which the company calls Solutioneers. Led by CEO Rick Murdock and co-developed by The Pacific Companies, Autovol is pioneering a new kind of modular construction.

“Automation and robotics will lead the world into the future of housing,” Murdock said. “What we’re doing hasn’t been attempted before. Our investors and Solutioneers leaned in with lots of confidence, and now we’re seeing great results that prove they were right.”

‘Raise the bar of career satisfaction in construction’

According to Murdock, automated modular construction is designed to “take the back-breaking work off of people, and use new techniques that weren’t humanly possible.”

Robotics empower the company to create new kinds of careers and a culture designed to “raise the bar of career satisfaction in construction,” Murdock said.

The company is staffing up toward an expected team of 300-plus Solutioneers, and already has 600 modular units on its docket, with capacity for more.

Besides its own team of Solutioneers, Autovol has helped create over 100 jobs for the various companies helping build, tool-up, and service this first-of-its kind factory. One of these is House of Design, an automation and robotics firm also based in Nampa, Idaho.

According to Shane Dittrich, House of Design founder, the company has grown by helping develop this new kind of automation.

“The collaborative effort of people and industrial robots in the off-site construction space provides endless opportunities. We can’t solve the problems of unavailable labor and housing affordability without automation,” Dittrich said. “We also don’t solve these problems without visionary companies willing to take a chance and endure unavoidable speed bumps on the road to extraordinary success. We applaud Autovol for their commitment and we’re excited to be on the forefront of realized robotics for construction technology.”

San Jose apartment community to provide 301 units

Virginia Studios will be a five-story, 301-unit complex that will be over-podium, including underground parking. Automation is doing a substantial portion of the work, with Solutioneers skilled in the construction trades doing finishing work and other key tasks.

To learn more about Autovol, its vision, culture, current openings, and the Virginia Street Studios project, visit the company’s just-updated website at www.autovol.com

For more information about House of Design Robotics, one of Idaho’s leading automation companies, visit www.thehouseofdesign.com

For information about Pacific Companies, developer of The Virginia Street project, and a national leader in affordable housing development, visit www.tpchousing.com

USA Properties starts construction on two adjacent apartment communities in Simi Valley

Combined $114 million development will provide mixed-income, multigenerational housing near freeways, shopping, schools and health care providers

USA Properties Fund has started construction on two apartment communities in Simi Valley, creating a mixed-income, multigenerational development that will provide 311 much-needed homes to residents.

The almost 13-acre development will include The Landing at Arroyo – a market-rate apartment community with a long list of amenities – and Vintage at Sycamore, an affordable senior community with numerous features for residents at least 62 years old.

The high-profile project, located on the former Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District’s headquarters at 1692 Sycamore Drive, offers easy access to the 118 (Ronald Reagan) Freeway, shopping centers, restaurants, a hospital, several public schools and parks.

“This is highly sought-after land, it’s an excellent location,” said Geoff Brown, President of USA Properties Fund in Roseville. “We’ve been working closely with the City of Simi Valley for several years, and we share a commitment of providing quality housing that meets the needs of residents.”

USA Properties Fund already owns and manages the Las Serenas and Vintage Paseo apartment communities in Simi Valley, and has a long-standing relationship with the city. The city held numerous public hearings on the combined $114 million Landing at Arroyo-Vintage at Sycamore project in recent years.

“We chose USA Properties because of its positive history with the city, as well as its willingness to provide much-needed affordable housing for our senior community,” said Simi Valley Mayor Pro Tem Dee Dee Cavanaugh, who was then a director on the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District Board. “Now, as a member of the City Council, I have the unique opportunity to be involved on the design and building side, and will see this development to its completion.

The Landing at Arroyo and Vintage at Sycamore are next-door to each other but separate projects. However, the combined six, three-level buildings will look the same to people passing by on the street.

“You won’t be able to tell the affordable and market-rate buildings apart,” said Jatin Malhotra, Acquisitions Manager for USA Properties. “Both will complement the neighborhood and expand USA’s footprint in a highly desired community.”

‘A welcome answer to many of the housing needs in our community’

Simi Valley, like many California communities, is dealing with a critical shortage of housing that has been exacerbated by the development of few mid-to-large multifamily projects during the past decade, especially for low-income seniors.

“We anticipate these two apartment communities to be a welcome answer to many of the housing needs in our community,” said Simi Valley City Council Member Elaine Litster, whose district includes the neighborhood. “Simi Valley is experiencing a greater need for senior housing, particularly affordable housing. Vintage at Sycamore is filling a need and providing beautiful, new housing for our deserving seniors.”

The Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura County contributed a $3.5 million subsidy for Vintage at Sycamore, a 99-apartment community for seniors.

“It’s no secret there is an extreme lack of affordable housing opportunities in our local communities,” said Michael Nigh, Executive Director of The Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura. “Vintage at Sycamore will add much-needed units to the inventory of affordable housing units for low-income seniors in Ventura County.”

The apartment community is for seniors earning 50% or 70% of the area’s median household income – about $45,200 and $63,300, respectively. Vintage at Sycamore, which offers one-bedroom units, will rent for $1,059 to $1,483 per month, depending on income.

Despite being affordable, the $32 million apartment community has numerous features, including those often only found at higher-priced market-rate properties. Vintage at Sycamore will include a clubroom; fitness center; a computer center with wi-fi and printers; a pool; an outdoor seating area with barbecues; and a pet area. Apartments will feature energy-efficient appliances, a patio or balcony, and laundry rooms on each of the three floors.

USA Properties, one of the largest affordable community developer-builder-managers in West, expects to complete construction on Vintage at Sycamore in late 2021.

‘Resort-like’ living next-door at Landing at Arroyo

Landing at Arroyo will look like Vintage at Sycamore from the street, but it’s a much-different and larger community than its next-door neighbor.

“This is definitely a high-end community,” Malhotra said. “It will cater to a range of residents, from single professionals that commute to downtown Los Angeles to families that want to live in an excellent neighborhood in one of the safest cities in the state.”

The 212-apartment Landing at Arroyo offers an impressive list of “resort-like” amenities, including a clubhouse with a kitchen; fitness center; game room; large saltwater pool and spa with cabanas; outdoor dining areas with fire pits; child play area; dog wash station; outdoor exercise area; locker room for packages; and private, enclosed garages.

The one- to three-bedroom apartments will feature stainless steel appliances; a kitchen island; an in-unit washer and dryer; high-end flooring; and a private balcony with a storage closet.

Landing at Arroyo should be completed in late-2022.

USA Properties partnered with Century Housing, East West Bank and Gables Residential on the $82 million project.

“The Landing at Arroyo will provide new housing for families, young professionals and the many who desire to live in our safe, welcoming community,” Council Member Litster said. “It is surrounded by wonderful neighborhoods, schools and other amenities. And the nearby Arroyo is a great place to walk, bike and recreate.”

The Vintage at Sycamore and The Landing at Arroyo development will be one of the largest-ever-projects for USA Properties. The 40-year-old company has apartment communities in California and Nevada, and entered the market-rate industry in 2015.

“Together, the apartment communities will showcase what’s possible with the right opportunity and partners,” Brown said. “And we will continue to look for similar projects, where we can continue to help meet the ever-increasing need for housing in California.”

USA Properties celebrates 40th anniversary of helping meet the demand for housing

Industry leader has established award-winning social service programs for low-income residents, embraced aging-in-place efforts and expanded into market-rate communities

USA Properties Fund Inc. is celebrating its 40th anniversary of creating outstanding communities – providing much-needed quality housing for residents, developing life-changing social-services programs, and investing in and revitalizing neighborhoods in California and Nevada.

The Roseville-based company “goes above and beyond for its residents” with award-winning and forward-looking efforts and “works tirelessly to help solve the housing crisis,” say industry leaders.

“It’s more than just about apartments, we believe in building communities and providing homes for families and seniors,” said USA Properties President Geoff Brown, whose father founded the company in 1981. “It’s about impacting and improving the lives of our residents.”

USA Properties has enjoyed fast-paced growth during the past 25 years, from just a couple of apartment communities to more than 90 today – and becoming one of the largest affordable community developer-builder-managers in the West, and among the nation’s leading senior housing providers. The company expanded into market-rate apartment communities in 2015.

The company has also been at the forefront of embracing energy-efficient efforts, such as solar-panel systems, and environmentally friendly practices, including a modular construction project in the Bay Area that cuts costs, saves time and reduces waste.

USA Properties has about 375 employees and recently opened a regional office in Southern California.

But the company is much more than about apartment communities, figures and impressive growth.

“At the end of the day, all of the things that we do on a day-to-day basis, are meant to create outstanding communities,” said Jonny Harmer, Chief Financial Officer of USA Properties. “Areas that people can call home. Places where cities and communities can look at what we’ve done and see that our work has had a positive impact.”

(USA Properties has established a 40th anniversary website, complete with interviews of current and past executives, employees, partners and, of course, residents.)

Building a foundation by filling a need

J.B. Brown, an entrepreneurial businessman who had extensive experience developing housing for CalMark Properties and two other companies in Southern California founded USA Properties Fund in Santa Monica on Jan. 28, 1981. USA Properties, originally connected to a savings and loan, was J.B. Brown’s fourth startup in 12 years.

“My dad really wanted to be the captain of his own ship,” Brown said of his father’s decision to leave CalMark, a subsidiary of a much-larger corporation. “He was always willing to take risks.”

In the early years, USA Properties was sometimes a struggling startup but persevered, Brown said.

The company was busy building and selling single-family and multifamily housing in Southern California for the first several years. But when the buyer of an affordable apartment community under construction in Desert Hot Springs faced financial difficulties and failed to complete the deal in 1989, USA Properties took over the project, which enabled it to get into the affordable housing industry.

USA Properties, then with seven employees, embraced affordable housing and the new Low Income Housing Tax Credits program that started in 1986. The company’s original build-and-sell model evolved into develop, own and manage apartment communities.

“Successful companies find niches,” Brown said. “And affordable housing became our niche.”

Today, the company is one of the largest affordable community developer-builder-managers in the West, and has expanded into market-rate communities during the past several years, with housing in the Bay Area, the Sacramento region and Southern California. The company has a total of about 11,600 units in its portfolio.

Much of the company’s impressive growth – more than 10,000 units – has come under the leadership of Brown, who joined the company in 1989 and was named president in 1997. His father passed away in 2001, the 20th anniversary of USA Properties.

“With each additional apartment built, affordable and market-rate, we are helping address a critical issue in the state by providing housing to residents,” Brown said. “Every apartment opens the door to more housing and new opportunities for residents.”

‘Pivotal moments’

Like all companies, especially those that have lasted four decades, there have been challenges and difficult times, including four economic recessions and the elimination of the redevelopment program in California a decade ago. But the company has survived, succeeded – and often thrived, thanks to a five-year business plan that included moving to Roseville, two affordable projects early on and even some luck.

USA Properties moved from Southern California to Roseville, a suburb of Sacramento, in 1993. USA felt the greater Sacramento area would become one of the fastest-growing parts of the state because it was more affordable to live there.

Soon after relocating, USA Properties started two Sacramento-area projects – Terracina Elk Grove, an affordable community in South Sacramento, and Vintage Oaks in Citrus Heights, the company’s first affordable senior community.

Moving to Roseville and later opening a 10,500-square-foot office along with opening the two affordable communities were “pivotal moments” for USA Properties, Brown said.

Those apartment communities, along with the Desert Hot Springs project, helped pave the way for the road to success for USA Properties, which has become a leader in the affordable housing industry.

USA Properties “continues to work tirelessly to help solve the housing crisis for low-income Californians,” said Ray Pearl, Executive Director of the California Housing Consortium. Geoff Brown, a longtime advocate for affordable housing, was named a Housing Hall of Fame Honoree by the consortium in 2015. “The company is a leader in the field, providing housing and services throughout the state while also advocating for policies that impact the lives of the people they work hard to serve. The company’s contributions to real people’s lives are immeasurable.”

The JB Brown Fund and other efforts to help residents

USA Properties has expanded those contributions beyond housing to include efforts that provide opportunities and assistance for low-income residents through the JB Brown Fund, a grassroots organization founded with social-services partner LifeSTEPS in 2011.

The JB Brown Fund has raised $1.4 million and helped more than 900 low-income families living in USA Properties’ affordable apartment communities. The JB Brown Fund helps residents attend college, participate in youth sports or face an unexpected financial emergency, such as a job loss, death in the family or to buy a new pair of glasses or hearing aids.

Five years ago, LifeSTEPS and USA Properties established a pilot program that allowed low-income seniors to reman living at affordable senior apartment communities in the Sacramento region and receive much of the medical attention they need steps away from their home – for free. The RN Coaching PILOT Program recently received the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban’s 2020 Award for Healthy Homes, a national award that has recognized only 22 programs since 2015.

Brown said the company will continue looking at ways to help low-income seniors to age in place, a critical issue for older residents and their families.

“The company and its team go above and beyond just helping residents and partners,” said Beth Southorn, Executive Director of LifeSTEPS. “Together, we have provided ways to stop the cycle of poverty by lifting good people out of their situation and into the life they were created to live.”

It’s a commitment that started with the community-minded J.B. Brown and grows stronger today under a second-generation of leadership and hundreds of more employees.

USA Properties has “gone from a mom-and-pop company into a sophisticated, modern corporation,” said Michael McCleery, who joined the company in 1988 and retired as Executive Vice President of Construction in summer 2020. He was one of six employees in the corporate headquarters in the early days. “As the company has changed over time, what hasn’t changed is the belief in the people.”

Brown agrees, adding that employees and partners – including local governments, housing agencies, investors and subcontractors – have been critical to the company’s long-term success.

“If there’s one thing we don’t do well, is that we don’t celebrate our success enough,” said Brown, likening the effort to a winning sports team. “You don’t want to focus too much on how good you are, you always want to keep that edge. But, let’s be honest, there is also always a little good luck involved.”

Hard work, good timing and definitely even a bit of luck are needed for companies celebrating their 40th anniversary, a milestone reached by fewer than 5% of private companies nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I’m very proud that our company has made it to 40 years,” Brown said. “But it’s important that we keep the same fire, passion and dedication to be successful as we did when we were 20 years old.”