USA Properties completes ‘beautiful’ Sierra Sunrise rehabilitation

$5.7 million investment adds long list of amenities and modern features while helping residents to age in place at affordable senior apartment community

USA Properties Fund has completed an extensive rehabilitation project of Sierra Sunrise in Carmichael, one of its largest-ever efforts for an existing property.

From new appliances, cabinets, flooring and lighting in the 119 apartments to converting a little-used indoor spa into a much-in-demand fitness center, the rehabilitation project has given a modern look to a community that opened in 1976.

“Walking into the building, I was very excited,” resident Dawn Jenkins said of her first time seeing the completed project. “It’s beautiful. It’s so well decorated, so well done.”

Sierra Sunrise – an affordable community for low- to very-low-income residents at least 62 years old just east of Sacramento – underwent a complete floor-to-roof rehabilitation. USA Properties, one of the largest developer-owner-managers of affordable apartment communities in the West, bought Sierra Sunrise in 2004.

“It doesn’t even look like the same space,” said Yvonne McDonald, Community Manager of the affordable senior apartment community. “It surpassed my expectations.”

The 18-month project included the easy-to-see – such as new furniture and paint – but also many behind-the-scenes improvements, like the installation of the company’s second-largest photovoltaic system that will cut energy costs and help the environment.

“We’re always looking at how to improve our apartment communities,” said USA Properties President Geoff Brown. “Sierra Sunrise is an example of what is possible, and how we can turn a decades-old building into a more comfortable, functional and modern community.”

‘They’re living in a brand-new home’

Residents are back home enjoying their new apartments and the community.

“It was nice to see the response from residents and to give them a home this nice,” said Construction Project Manager John Kelly, who oversaw the $5.7 million project. “They are very appreciative. They’re living in a brand-new home.”

Some of the changes include an extensive facelift to the community/dining room; a craft room with a kitchen where residents can enjoy hobbies and prepare their own meals; a comfortable media room for movie night; and a cozy library with floor-to-ceiling shelves and two computer stations.

Jenkins appreciates her just-like-new apartment, including the additional cabinet space and the new, black refrigerator. She also applauds the doubling of washers and dryers in the laundry rooms, and likes the new seating area near the main entrance, perfect for a late-night get-together with friends.

“There are so many areas that we put in for residents to congregate and share space,” said Megan Underwood, Compliance Manager for USA Multifamily Management. “Everything was to create a feeling of community.”

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Catering kitchen and on-site registered nursing program helps residents to age in place

Part of building “community” includes helping residents to age in place with their friends and remain at Sierra Sunrise as long as possible, a long-standing mission of USA Properties, said Tami Pedroia, a Senior Regional Manager for USA Properties.

For example, a catering kitchen with a commercial refrigerator and freezer and retherm tower will help Meals on Wheels provide meals every weekday to residents after the Covid pandemic. A free, on-site registered nursing program that meets with residents twice a week has a new office. And a sidewalk now goes around the entire property, allowing residents – some with limited mobility – to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

The sidewalk passes through an outdoor area that includes a new dog run, gazebos, a barbecue area with seating, and raised planters where residents can put their gardening skills to work.

“I love the sidewalk that goes clear around the building,” said Jenkins, who walks her dog along the path daily and oversees the raised planters in the garden for residents. “It’s freedom.”

From the remodeled community room to the patio with seating areas, “everything allows residents to socialize,” said McDonald, who has been part of the community management team since 2016.

Careful planning to relocate residents

Construction started in spring 2020, and the company was committed to cause as little disruption as possible to residents during the long-term rehabilitation project.

“We had to have a very strategic approach,” Pedroia added. “But, overall, it went very smoothly.”

Jenkins, who has lived at Sierra Sunrise since 2015, agrees.

“I knew with any remodel, there would be some inconvenience, but they kept it at a minimum,” Jenkins said. “Management went above and beyond.”

And the end result was well received by residents living in the 65 studios and 54 one-bedroom homes. They appreciate the new flooring, fixtures, LED lighting and Quartz countertops.

“Once all the dust settled, some were in tears,” said McDonald, adding that one resident didn’t want to leave her apartment during construction but was pleasantly surprised when she returned to her new home. “She cried about leaving … and she cried when she came back.”