Talavera honored as Sacramento Business Journal’s Best Real Estate Project of the Year

The following is from the Sacramento Business Journal’s Best Real Estate Projects of the Year section and appears as published Sept. 10.   

By Danny King

When it came to getting the community support necessary for the city of Folsom to sign off on the Talavera Apartments site, the process was an uphill battle. Literally.

Having started work on the project in 2015, Roseville-based developer USA Properties Fund had to contend with residents on the ridge to the east of the 9.7-acre site, including concerns over the project’s height and road access.

Additionally, while the city was pushing for a higher number of units, the neighbors wanted fewer apartments.

“The people on the hill wanted to be involved and have an opinion,” said Kobi Moses, principal at Los Angeles-based GMPA Architects, the project’s architect. “So we had to take that into consideration and become a good neighbor.”

After many meetings that included — among other things — the presentation of three-dimensional renderings, the project underwent three substantial design phases before being ultimately approved with 293 apartment units and a rejiggered entrance from a neighborhood street to the busier Broadstone Parkway.

“Initially, the city wanted more units for the site than what we were doing, and neighbors never want more units, so we had to back off,” said USA Properties Fund CEO Geoff Brown, whose company had previously developed two affordable housing projects in the city. “It wasn’t an easy process.”

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The project, which broke ground in 2017, had a built-in advantage of being located across the street from the Palladio at Broadstone, the 700,000-square-foot “lifestyle” center that was completed in 2011.

The $84.5 million apartment complex, which is spread across four buildings, was also designed to cater to contemporary residential needs. In addition to typical amenities such as a pool and a fitness center, Talavera Apartments also features smart-home appliances, refrigerated lockers, electronic door locks, a do-it-yourself bike-repair center and a “pet park and wash” area. The project’s layout was designed to create a courtyard-type atmosphere between the buildings.

And despite being completed last August, or about five months after Covid-related restrictions were put into place, Talavera — which is managed by Greystar — benefited from the combination of a virtual-leasing program and what Brown said was a steady increase in interest from prospective renters looking to relocate from the San Francisco Bay Area.

“We did it a little bit on the fly, but we had a lot of collateral with the photos,” Brown said of the virtual leasing program. “It was just a matter of converting them.”

Additionally, 24 of the one-bedroom units and 132 of the two-bedroom apartments were designed to include dens, and while that amenity wasn’t added with stay-at-home mandates in mind, it proved to be invaluable for prospective renters who’d been granted the freedom to work from home.

“Many times, we’ve purposely made the bedrooms and other spaces a little smaller to gain a den or work-alcove within the units,” said Moses, whose firm’s work has spanned across the multi-unit residential, mixed-use, commercial, hospitality and master-planning sectors during its 30-year history. “We didn’t know we’d have a pandemic, but we as a company have been advocating giving people space to work from home probably for the last 20 years since laptop computers became so popular.”

As a result, Talavera was 90% leased by March 2021. And while the average rents in Folsom range from about $1,500 a month to about $2,300 a month for studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, according to Apartments.com, Talavera’s rents are about $200 a month higher than those figures.

“On one side of it, you’ve got retail and restaurants. You’ve got freeway access, you’ve got parks nearby, you’ve got Folsom Lake College, you’ve got a good school district, and you’ve got medical nearby,” said Brown. “It’s just a really great location.”

Fast Facts

Talavera Apartments

Details: 293-unit apartment complex spread across four buildings

Completed: August 2020

Cost: $84.5 million

Developer: USA Properties Fund Inc.

Contractor: USA Construction Management Inc.

Architect: GMPA Architects Inc.