Nic Behrends Team Member Spotlight

At Optima®, every individual on our team brings a unique story and perspective that enriches our community. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Nic Behrends, Optima Lakeview’s Leasing Consultant. From a rich background in hospitality to his heartwarming transition into the world of real estate, Nic shares his journey and insights about what makes Optima stand out. Dive in below:

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima.

My background is actually not in real estate. I spent over two decades in hospitality during which I also ran a non-profit focused on bartenders for several years. During my time in hospitality, people kept telling me I would be a great real estate agent, so eventually, I was convinced to get my leasing license. I worked as an agent for a couple of years and realized chasing all over town wasn’t my cup of tea and that I would be much happier managing buildings. I learned that I can be an expert in one specific community and get to know the residents instead of grinding through different prospects, and now I’m one of Optima Lakeview’s Leasing Consultants!

How did you first begin your journey at Optima?

I interviewed with Optima and immediately fell in love with the team and how they illuminated the brand for me. Everything I learned about Optima was far more attractive than any of the other properties I had interviewed with, so I knew I had to work here. Everyone encouraged me to be myself and understand how I could bring my true self to the position, and once I was encouraged to bring that person out, sales just started erupting for me. It’s been great to work in a place where I know that I’m not judged because maybe I’m not the most proficient typist or super skilled in Excel, but I can relate to people. 

How do you view the concept of community at Optima? How does it differ from other properties/buildings?

It’s unique that with Optima, we are all a part of this community. The fact that I see our chief engineer working out in the gym alongside a resident, sharing tips with each other, or I see another staff member at the pool with his partner exemplifies that we’re not just the staff here, we’re also members of the community, and the residents respect that and treat us as neighbors since we’re all here together. In most of the other communities that I interacted with as a broker, there was always an issue with control or power, and there is usually a disconnect between the residents and the staff. But at Optima, everyone is heard. Residents see that we care about what’s going on in their lives and it makes everything much more warm and happier. 

Optima has a unique set of values that differentiates it from other company cultures. How does that affect the quality of your work life? What values matter most to you?

Being bold. It takes a lot to put your true self out there and to let the walls down. And to be in a building that lets me do that has allowed me to progress in my career very rapidly. Becoming not only successful but also happy in this career has come from the opportunities that being bold has given me. All of our work here is done with intent and purpose, so in every action, we’re acting bold. It’s been an amazing opportunity to work with Maike and the team here because everyone truly embodies that value. 

What are some things you’ve learned during your time at Optima?

What I’ve learned most here at Optima is that there is a way to do this business that is beneficial to both the property owner and the residents. When you produce a premium building that you can stand behind, you’ve got to be willing to put in the effort and show residents that we’re invested in their lives and are here to help them at all costs. Too often, at other properties, the solution is a rebuttal with a demand that you live with it, and here, we’re always looking for a way to solve problems. 

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima team?

What I’m most proud of is the fact that I made a huge career change after doing the same thing for 20-plus years and made it into an environment that makes me feel valued. I walk into the most amazing building and am greeted by spectacular residents every morning. I work with a team that is not only going to work as hard or harder than me but also respects me for who I am. I’m over the moon to tell everybody how happy I am here and how proud I am to know I made it onto this team. 

How Optima Communities Support Hybrid and Remote Working

At Optima, each of our communities are thoughtfully curated to make everyday life extraordinary. Whether it’s the expansive fitness centers or our stunning sky decks, we’re dedicated to providing curated spaces and opportunities to make sure all residents feel right at home. One unique amenity in Optima communities that has become increasingly relevant is the robust set of hybrid and work-from-home options. Here are just a couple of ways our communities support these evergrowing work features: 

Allocated Work Spaces in Your Home

It can be challenging to separate your life and career when working remotely, which is why we design each of our residences to allow space for desks and separate work areas. Each extensive floor plan allows residents to customize their living areas to fit their needs, whether you require a separated office or a dedicated work corner. 

We also work to provide our residents with the best technology features, further empowering them to define the way they live. In Optima Lakeview, in particular, residents have access to WiredScore Home Gold certified technology that includes best-in-class digital connectivity features and dedicated media panels for telecommunications equipment. 

Access to Greenery 

Whether you find yourself in our Arizona or Illinois communities, each provides convenient access to greenery and flexible environments. While all feature vast outdoor space and greenery, Optima Kierland, Optima Sonoran Village and our upcoming Optima Verdana are all home to our signature vertical landscaping system, which plays a crucial role in molding a healthy and sustainable environment for residents.

Communal Amenities

Not only can residents establish workspaces in their own homes, but all of our communities also provide an array of amenities designed to enhance the remote work experience. From the dedicated conference and business rooms developed for more intimate interactions to the lively communal spaces like Optima Lakeview’s light-filled atrium or Kaleidoscope Juice in Optima Sonoran Village and Egg Harbor Cafe in Optima Signature. 

Our team also works to provide Optimized Service® in each community. Residents have access to in-home package delivery, grocery delivery and 24/7 virtual personal assistance, and in Optima Lakeview, the Kids’ Club includes an indoor children’s playroom. 

No matter where you find yourself working, we’re with you every step of the way to ensure you feel comfortable and supported.

Angie Chache Team Member Spotlight

Our passionate team at Optima is the heart and soul behind each of our communities and embodies all of our values daily. We recently sat down with Angie Chache, Optima Lakeview’s Property Manager, to learn more about her journey to Optima Lakeview and what excites her the most about this extraordinary new property. 

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima.

I have been in residential property management for almost 20 years, managing different types of communities in a Property Manager and Regional Manager role. With Optima Lakeview, I am the Property Manager, so I oversee the site itself. I’m responsible for the entire building and its system of operations, and because I’m jumping in just as the building is being completed, it will be my first lease up. I am excited about it!

What drew you to Optima initially, and what’s kept you working there?

Initially, a conversation with Ali Burnham, the Marketing Director, introduced me to the vibrant project they were building here. My first experience with an Optima community was actually Optima Old Orchard Woods; I was drawn to its classical modernist architectural style. So when the opportunity to join the team at Optima Lakeview came up, I was very excited. At Optima, there is this wonderful collaboration between all departments. With most companies, the architect/designer and developer/builder are separate entities. So at Optima, where we do everything essentially under one roof, I observe that things go much more smoothly on the operations side of things.

How do you view the concept of community at Optima? How does it differ from other properties/buildings?

Community at Optima means providing exceptional and curated experiences for our residents. The buildings are designed with extensive amenity spaces so they can seamlessly function as an extension of our residents’ homes. Our tagline at Optima Lakeview is Expect the Extraordinary, which I believe speaks for both the building’s outstanding architecture and the rich community we are creating within it. 

One of our philosophies that encompasses our value around relationships and community is called the Optima Way. The Optima Way sets the stage for Optima experiences that are very unique and customized for every one of our residents. We strive to get to know every resident, what they like, what they don’t like, and how we can make all of their experiences unique. It’s about being encouraged by our company culture to create extraordinary encounters for the residents. When you live in an Optima community, it’s more than just living in any generic apartment; it’s about what residents can enjoy when they’re here and what we can do as a team to curate living experiences just for them. 

There are a lot of luxury properties in the market, but what differentiates us is our suite of services. The resident events we frequently host are incredibly special, including fitness classes and kid-focused events (we’re one of the only communities doing this). And our grand amenity spaces are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Residents at Optima Lakeview are going to feel like these spaces are an extension of their home. Some areas feel private, and others are great spots to gather with friends…because when you have that much space to spread out, it’s going to feel like home.

Optima has a unique set of values that differentiates it from other company cultures. How does that affect the quality of your work life? What values matter most to you?

My bucket gets filled every day. Yes, there are challenges and days that are hard, but there is also support and fluidity between the departments. We all work for the same company which, on the Property Management side of the business, makes my job so much easier. The two values that speak to me the most are that we build strong lasting relationships and that people are — and always will be — the most important pieces of the puzzle. 

In my career, relationships — whether it be with employees, vendors, or residents — have been at the forefront of my values, and I always want everyone to feel welcomed and appreciated. Optima allows me to curate experiences for people and provide amazing customer service, and it isn’t typical of companies to have the customer at the forefront. Many companies say they value that, but Optima acts on it.

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima team?

The beautiful ,innovative designs of our buildings, how we impact our residents’ lives, and the intentional way we work to be a part of the communities we build in. I never really understood the thought put into Optima’s communities before I started working here. We strive to build long-lasting relationships and partner with businesses surrounding our community so our residents and the surrounding businesses can benefit from those partnerships we form.

I’m also proud of the way we give back to the communities where we have built. Recently, we partnered with Lakeview Pantry and worked there for a day, which allowed us to see the lives that are impacted daily by this organization right here in the Lakeview neighborhood. We are excited to partner with them long-term and see how our community can help support such an important cause.

With move-ins scheduled for the spring, what elements of Optima Lakeview should new residents be most excited about?

Everything! We have 198 units with 52-floor plans, which means sometimes there may only be one unit of a particular floor plan, so our uniqueness provides a sense of exclusivity. I can’t wait for residents to see our 7-story atrium that will be filled with an abundance of natural light and the vibrant vertical landscaping that will live inside of it — similar to the vertical landscaping we do on the exteriors of our Arizona communities. We will have 40,000 square feet of amenity space for only 198 residences. Our skydeck with 360-degree views of the city will also have a heated pool and jacuzzi that can be used year-round — even when it’s snowing. And, we’ll have private terraces that range from 300 square feet up to 2,000 square feet, some with private grills and firepits. Our community is like no other in this neighborhood.

Bocce 101

At Optima, we don’t just build homes, we build communities — that’s because fostering a sense of connection is an integral part of our process, and an integral part of the resident experience. We aim to create spaces where people can meet, play and entertain, whether that’s with other residents of the building or with their friends and family (or a mix of both). And that’s why at our Chicago community, Optima Signature, we added bocce ball courts to one of our four dedicated amenity floors. The highly social and engaging sport not only provides our residents with competitive fun, but it’s an occasion to connect over, too.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. has seen an explosion of “social bocce” playing across the country. Those seeking exciting new ways to spend time with family and friends have flocked to the casual sport now being played at restaurants, bars and park districts all over. But perhaps what attracts people to the sport even more is its accessibility. Bocce ball is an incredibly beginner-friendly game, and bocce courts are also easy to maintain for the sites that host them.

Bocce is played on courts made of soil or asphalt, typically up to 90 feet long and between 8 and 13 feet wide. Games are played between two opposing players or teams of 2-4, where players “bowl” bocce balls down the court and attempt to get their ball closest to the “jack.” Bocce balls are hefty, spherical balls made from wood, metal, baked clay or plastic. Players/teams receive one point for each ball that is closest to the jack, with most games ending around 7-13 points scored. Considering the space needed while playing, it’s also a great game for social distancing. 

The bocce ball court at Optima Signature occupies an open, inviting space between other amenities on the seventh and eighth floors. These dedicated amenity floors, designed to be a gathering space for residents, include features like a putting green, golf simulator, WELLBEATS cycling studio, indoor basketball court and an open lounge area with Egg chairs, perfect for spectators of the game. Bocce ball is a natural fit in the mix, cultivating a lively environment where residents can come together over fun, shared activities.

Pet-Friendly Amenities at Optima

Though 68% of all US households own a pet, finding a condo or apartment that allows pets can be quite the treasure hunt. And even when pets are allowed, there’s still a big difference between having a pet policy and being pet-friendly.

To overcome this challenge for renters and owners, pet-friendly buildings are including additional amenities or offerings that welcome and celebrate the community of pet-lovers and their furry companions. Particularly in urban areas, these pet-friendly inclusions become crucial to the convenience and happiness of animal owners and their pets.

At Optima, we constantly push ourselves to innovate and include exceptional features that elevate the resident experience, from installing pickleball courts to carefully choosing retail tenants that meet our residents needs. Over the past few years, improving the resident experience has also meant amping up our amenity offerings for oft-overlooked residents: our four-legged friends. Here’s a closer look at pet-friendly amenities at Optima:

Dog Park at Optima Sonoran Village
Dog Park at Optima Sonoran Village

Optima Sonoran Village

Situated in the heart of urban Scottsdale, Optima Sonoran Village makes the optimal home for pet-owners with the inclusion of a community pet park. Beyond this dedicated space, Optima Sonoran Village has several acres of open space with walking paths, making it the perfect place for a morning dog walk. Each apartment at Optima Sonoran Village also features a private terrace, so your pet can get some fresh air at any time of day, without you even having to leave home.

Dog park in the 7160 tower at Optima Kierland Apartments
Dog park in the 7160 tower at Optima Kierland Apartments

Optima Kierland Apartments

At Optima Kierland Apartments, our pet-friendly amenities at each tower include a dog park and pet spa. Residents and their pet companions can also make use of the sprawling green space that surrounds the properties, where getting exercise for your pet never requires going far and even better, each unit’s private terrace offers outdoor space right within the bounds of your own home. The community even features a pet spa, so after a day of play, you can make sure your furry companion comes back to your apartment sparkly clean.


Outdoor dog park at Optima Signature
Outdoor dog park at Optima Signature

Optima Signature

At Optima Signature, our package of pet-friendly extras includes both indoor and outdoor dog parks as well as grooming facilities. We’ve even gone so far as to choose retail tenant GoodVets for our community here — a choice made specifically to respond to residents’ needs. Beyond on-site pet-friendly amenities, Optima Signature’s proximity to the riverfront and lakefront make it easy to take an adventure into the city with your pet.

Particularly in urban areas, we recognize that finding the perfect space for your pets to thrive can be tough, so we strive to make our residents’ lives easier and more enjoyable — for people and pups alike.

Redwood at Optima Signature

Our design is often driven with sustainability and efficiency in mind. This leads to the thoughtful incorporation of unconventional materials in many of our projects whether that be for the exterior facade or an interior accent. One such detail, the redwood in the lobby at Optima Signature, is an unconventional material that serves to juxtapose the strength of the building’s steel-and-glass exterior.

 A striking statement throughout the Optima Signature lobby, the barge wood adds a soft, natural texture behind the front desk, creating a stark contrast to the surrounding steel and glass. The wood lines the north wall of the lobby in long planks and is the first sight to greet residents and visitors when they enter the building. Though now on display for all in our community, the wood came all the way from California in the 1850s.

Barge wood in the lobby at Optima Signature.
Barge wood in the lobby at Optima Signature.

The planks are redwood, formed from one massive log that sat on the bottom of the Big River in Mendocino California. This particular log was a “sinker,” the name given to the handful of logs that unfortunately sank during their river journey from a redwood forest to the sawmill at the mouth of the Big River, not far from San Francisco. 

For over 100 years, the log sat at the bottom of the Big River, until it was salvaged by Arky Ciancutti. Ciancutti began a redwood salvage business in the 1970s, raising large redwood logs that had previously sat forgotten at the bottom of the river. This particular log, Ciancutti determined, was from the first growth period of the redwood forest. He knew this because it was more than six feet in diameter and had axe-shaven markings at its ends, indicating that it was cut down, prior to the invention of the “raker tooth” saw of the late 1800s.

A close-up look at the barge wood at Optima Signature.
A close-up look at the barge wood at Optima Signature.

Having sat in the river for over one hundred years in mineral-rich water, this redwood log developed a truly rare and unique “curl” pattern within the grain of the wood. To highlight this unique feature, the wood was cut into three-inch-planks that ran the full length of the log. We then carefully installed these planks, with their raw beauty intact, leaving the live edges of the wood as is. The planks were then hung vertically in the lobby space, the orientation the same from which they grew. 

From a river in California to the lobby of a Chicago residential building, our barge wood at Optima Signature has a unique story that connects our urban lobby back to nature, and reflects our commitment to sustainability and longevity. 

person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL

    Acceptable file types: *.pdf | *.txt | *.doc, max-size: 2Mb