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2023: Year in Review

As 2023 comes to a close, we’re taking this moment to reflect on how we’ve continued to grow, learn and serve others over the past year. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Awards

We were honored to have attended the 2023 Arizona Multihousing Association (AMA) Tribute Awards where professionals are recognized for their tremendous achievement of leaving a positive impact on both their industry and community. 

Optima Verdana Phase 2 Rendering
Optima Verdana Phase 2 Rendering

Projects and Properties

2023 was a year of growth and many exciting announcements for us at Optima. In Chicago, we finished construction and opened Optima Verdana. Residents at Optima Verdana are surrounded by experiences and spaces that delight and surprise around every corner, from our  pickleball court and fitness center to the rooftop sky deck garden lounge and a heated, glass-enclosed pool. With residents continuing to move into Optima Verdana, we’re thrilled to announce Optima Verdana Phase 2. The mixed-use development will be six stories and be home to 150 rental units in a mix of one-, two- and three bedroom layouts.

Playing pickleball at the opening of Optima Verdana
Playing pickleball at the opening of Optima Verdana

Construction was also completed on 7190 Optima Kierland, the fifth and final tower within the development. With the new tower, not only did we grow the community at Optima Kierland Apartments, but, we also welcomed Optima’s first Olympic-length pool. Following the announcement of Optima McDowell Mountain Village late last year, in 2023 we broke ground on the project. The mixed-use development will include six eight-story buildings – a mix of apartments and condominiums – 12 acres of greenspace and a 210,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system for reuse on-site. 

Optima McDowell Mountain Village Rendering
Optima McDowell Mountain Village Rendering

Culture

Throughout 2023 our culture at Optima continued to thrive through rewarding avenues of affinity and connection. We celebrated with each other at our fourth annual costume and pumpkin carving contest, observed Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s Day, International Women’s Day, Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo, Pride Month, Halloween, various other Holiday celebrations and held our annual master architect challenge. In anticipation of the 7190 Optima Kierland Apartments grand opening, we welcomed the new project with a lively BBQ on the rooftop sky deck where we shared delicious food, and following Optima Verdana’s completion, we celebrated a grand opening filled with laughs. 

The Halloween Costume Party at Optima Lakeview
The Halloween Costume Party at Optima Lakeview

We continued to embrace and internalize our shared values more than ever. We are proud to have participated in the Highland Park Strong Run, where we came together to support the Highland Park community and enjoyed a race with family and friends. 

We can’t thank our leadership, team members and Optima communities enough for making 2023 one to remember. Heading into 2024, we are excited to continue innovating and achieving great things together.

The Optima Team at the Highland Park Strong Run
The Optima Team at the Highland Park Strong Run

The Benefits of Living Under Green Roofs

At Optima, our commitment to crafting vibrant communities extends beyond architecture — it embraces a vision of harmonious living with nature. In properties like Optima Verdana®, Optima Kierland Apartments® and Optima Sonoran Village®, we’ve taken this commitment to new heights — quite literally, with green roofs elements that redefine modern living.

Amidst the greenery, residents find not only a physical haven but a sanctuary for the mind year-round. The lush landscapes stimulate cognitive skills, and echoes the enriching effects of art, where the subjective nature of greenery allows residents to explore their creativity and free thinking.

In the spirit of art therapy, our green roof communities become a refuge for stress reduction. The calming influence from a communal herb garden or native flowers and trees, provides a mental retreat, minimizing worries amid life’s challenges. It’s an oasis that mirrors the positive impact of art in promoting relaxation and inspiration.

Living with greenery encourages residents to delve into their own emotional landscapes. The transformative experience of nature’s presence becomes a sensorial, emotional, and sometimes even spiritual journey. Here, Optima’s commitment to well-being extends beyond physical spaces to nourish the soul.

Green roof elements at Optima Kierland Apartments®
Green roof elements at Optima Kierland Apartments®

Optima’s green roofs don’t just enhance the lives of residents; they also embody our commitment to environmental stewardship. By providing insulation and mitigating the urban heat effect, these green roofs contribute to energy efficiency, aligning seamlessly with our dedication to sustainable design and living. They also play a crucial role in stormwater management by absorbing and retaining rainwater, reducing runoff and minimizing flood risks.

Green roofs actively improve air quality by capturing pollutants, offering a breath of fresh air in urban environments. Beyond architectural features, they become habitats for wildlife, enhancing local biodiversity and promoting a holistic approach to community development.

In the heart of Optima’s green roof communities, residents experience a dual benefit: enhanced well-being and a commitment to sustainability. The greenery surrounding our residents tells a tale of cognitive enrichment, stress reduction, emotional healing, and environmental stewardship. As we invite nature into our designs, we reaffirm our dedication to access to greenery and sustainable living.

Discover the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

We’re always thrilled to spotlight attractions for our residents at Optima Kierland Apartments, including the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Nestled in the heart of Arizona’s picturesque landscape, this preserve stands as a testament to Scottsdale’s dedication to preserving the captivating beauty and wonder of the Sonoran Desert. This urban preserve offers a haven for flora, fauna, and eager adventurers alike.

The Preserve’s history began on January 1, 1994, when Scottsdale formally dedicated the initial area of the preserve, which then consisted of three parcels of land totaling approximately five square miles. Since then, this preserve has grown and flourished, now spanning 27,800 acres, and deeply intertwined with the passionate efforts of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. This non-profit organization, in collaboration with the City of Scottsdale, has been a driving force in the completion and sustainability of the preserve. Their dedication ensures that this part of the Sonoran Desert remains untouched for future generations. The Conservancy also plays a vital role in managing the land and maintaining the extensive trail network.

Gateway Trailhead Building View
View of the Gateway Trailhead Building. Photo: Al_HikesAZ

Apart from its breathtaking vistas, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve boasts a range of facilities designed to enhance the visitor experience. Major trailheads include the Gateway Trailhead, Tom’s Thumb, and Brown’s Ranch. These provide free parking, access to a variety of trails, and restroom facilities. With an extensive network of non-motorized, multi-use trails, visitors can indulge in activities ranging from hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The paths cater to all skill levels – from gentle terrains to challenging ascents. 

 

Cactus Wren on a cactus.
Cactus Wren. Photo: Rick Cameron

The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy offers guided hikes, where knowledgeable guides share insights about the desert ecosystem, its history, and its inhabitants. But the preserve is more than just a recreational spot. Through the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, it offers a variety of educational programs designed to foster public awareness and appreciation of the desert ecosystem.

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is more than a slice of “untainted desert;” it’s an experience. Its vastness captures the essence of the Sonoran Desert, providing those with a penchant for exploration an opportunity to connect with nature. With its diverse activities, rich history, and the backing of a dedicated conservancy, the preserve promises something for everyone. And for Optima Kierland Apartment residents, whether you’re an avid hiker, a curious student, or simply someone to find peace amidst nature’s splendor, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve awaits only five miles away.

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. 

Inside The Newest Tower at Optima Kierland Apartments: A Closer Look at the New and Evolving Amenities With Barbie Clemons

Get ready to experience the ultimate luxury apartment living! The long-awaited completion of 7190 Optima Kierland Apartments in Scottsdale has finally arrived, and we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive look into all of its evolving amenities. We sat down with Barbie Clemons, General Manager at Optima Kierland Apartments, who shared all the details about what makes the tower’s incredible new amenities stand out from the rest:

What is the current state of the luxury amenity experience in Scottsdale? How has the definition of luxury amenities changed in recent years? 

Everybody’s spending a lot more time on amenities. You can see it in Scottsdale being a resort town; people want that resort-style living and to have everything at their fingertips. In recent years, we’ve seen buildings adding more events to their rosters, making sure that they have a gym, pools, hot tubs, etc. And then you start seeing other communities sprinkling in a cardio room and some of those more niche amenities to set them apart. For example, there’s a brand new building up the street from us that has a spa atmosphere where they’ve built a massage room and some of those spa-like amenities.

But that’s something that Optima has always done, because we’ve always gone to the next level with our amenities. This gives us the unique opportunity to always be ahead of the curve, delivering experiences and features that residents are just starting to dream about!

What are residents/potential residents at 7190 most interested in? 

At our new tower, Kierland 7190, we added a separate pickleball court. People are very excited about this addition because pickleball is such a phenomenon. In our other Kierland properties, we’ve transformed our basketball courts so residents can play basketball or pickleball. But in 7190, we now have a separate space that’s specifically for pickleball, and people are so excited about that.

They’re also excited about the Olympic-length pool on our rooftop here. It’s probably the longest pool I’ve ever seen on a rooftop, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Something else that has drawn people into our newer buildings is the rooftop track. We have a quarter-mile track that goes around the roof of our buildings, where residents can walk or jog and enjoy the views of McDowell Mountain, as well as a spa and cold plunge, and like our other buildings, lounge seating, fire pits, and an outdoor bar and kitchen. 

7190 Optima Kierland Apartments’ outdoor covered Pickleball arena

What are some of Optima Kierland 7190’s evolved amenities? 

There are so many! The rooftop track is a newer one, and the Olympic-length pool on the rooftop and pickleball court are some of the others. We also have a yoga studio that includes its own separate Pilates room. We’ve added full-blown pet spas and one of our most fun new additions, a golf experience. We also have our golf simulator and sports lounge indoors, and then outside, we have a new putting green and chipping area where residents can play on different types of terrain, which is unique.

What sets these amenities apart from other buildings in the community? 

Kierland stands apart because each of our five buildings has its own set of amenities, which is so distinctive relative to other apartment communities where the amenities are centralized and shared by all of the residential buildings. So whichever Kierland tower you choose, you’re only sharing with the intimate community you’re already familiar with. It’s really a lifestyle that we sell here, not apartment living. We’re showing residents that they can have everything at their fingertips and not have to go to a Lifetime Fitness or something like that outside of our community if they don’t want to, we’ll bring it all to them.

How are your residents responding to the amenity experience at 7190?

What we’re hearing from residents is that they are genuinely excited about the fact that they don’t have to leave the community to have an amazing quality of life. Our residents don’t have to go to cryotherapy or visit another golfing place to play on a simulator. Everything is right here within easy reach. We also have everything from huddle rooms to conference rooms, making it extremely easy for residents to work from home. We have spaces to enjoy and activities for people to play, from racquetball and pickleball to our pool, ping pong, shuffleboard, and bocce ball. I mean, there’s something for every single person in these buildings.

If residents are retiring, selling their homes, and downsizing into apartment living for the first time in 30 years, their grandkids are going to have a ton of places to go and enjoy. Additionally, new to the 7190 tower, we have implemented a 24/7 door staff so residents will have someone available 24 hours a day as part of our staff!

How Space Affects Mood

Today, virtually every aspect of daily life seems to bring a measure of stress. And when thinking about how to cope, it’s reassuring to turn to science, where research studies continue to point to the fact that human health and the spaces in which we live, work, and play directly correlate with stress levels and mood. Since our earliest years and projects, Optima® has championed the primacy of interior space, and we continue to celebrate its importance for each and every one of our residents — including giving a few tips on how to make the most out of one’s own space!

The Importance of Natural Light

Previously, we’ve spoken about the positive effects of an abundance of natural light and expansive windows and the critical role they play in adhering to our principles of Modernist design. Sunlight alone holds many benefits that go beyond the physical. It helps increase serotonin and endorphin levels, two hormones that significantly boost our mood.

What simple steps can you take to maximize natural light in your space? Start by arranging mirrors to reflect light, making sure you’re not blocking light with furniture, and rethink the use of dark drapes or shades.

Natural light at Optima Lakeview®, Chicago, IL
Natural light at Optima Lakeview®, Chicago, IL

Perception

The impression a space makes affects your mood, as well, and happens on an immediate and intuitive level as your mind and body engage with the physical environment. Picture an expansive living/dining area with floor-to-ceiling windows where you are drawn to gather with family and friends (or curl up with your pooch). Juxtapose that impression with what you would feel when entering a cluttered, dim room with little space to move around.

Take advantage of the layout of your space to maintain a sense of effortless flow in and around furniture and built-in elements, and keep piles and stacks to a minimum!

Introducing Color 

Color isn’t merely visual eye candy, it provides a psychological experience, as well. Beyond the sense of tranquility that the Modernist palette of monochromatic tones of gray, white, and black offer, expanding your space’s palette can make a world of difference in boosting your mood. 

Extending a hand to vibrant colors like red, yellow, or orange can give you feelings of passion and comfort. Cooler colors on the other side of the spectrum, like blue, green, and purple, can be peaceful, calming, or comforting. Sprinkling bits of color throughout your space is a surefire way to add a new emotional dimension to the environment and enhance your mood. 

Terrace gardening at Optima Sonoran Village®
Vertical landscaping at Optima Sonoran Village®

Budding Companions Can Increase Mood

We’ve written in the past about the mental health value of introducing budding companions such as house plants or flowers into your space, based on the results of comprehensive studies that show how the presence of plants improves concentration and memory retention while also reducing stress.

Make a regular habit of keeping plants and flowers around your home, and enjoy their affect of reducing the likelihood of depression and increasing positive feelings — in addition to the aesthetic beauty they provide.

From the feedback we continue to receive from Optima® residents, living in one of our communities sets the stage for high spirits and upbeat moods. With “great bones” in the design of our residences, optimized for openness, materiality and light, the opportunity to transform living space into home becomes a joy.

The Softline Opera Chair: A Symphony of Possibilities

As we continue to tour the public spaces at Optima® communities to highlight the curated collection of Modernist furnishings, such as the Eames chair, or tulip table, etc. We find it just as important to highlight recent advances of Modernist furniture design, propelled forward by the likes of Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, and so many other masters of design. Today we introduce you to the OPERA chair at Optima Lakeview®, by SOFTLINE.

Brief History 

SOFTLINE has been creating and producing innovatively designed furniture for a global market since 1979. The enterprise was founded as a division of K. Balling-Engelsen A/S, a Danish producer of technical polyurethane foam. For decades, this high-quality, flexible foam has been the material of choice for furniture production due to its unique properties.

In 2003, they became an independent, privately-owned enterprise with a factory in Denmark, where the upholstery is performed by hand, based on Scandinavian traditions and utilizing eco-friendly materials.

OPERA chair by Busk+Hertzog
OPERA chair by Busk+Hertzog at Optima Lakeview®

OPERA

The OPERA chair designed by Busk+Herzog serves a symphony of possibilities at Optima Lakeview® in its ability to elegantly blend modern and contemporary styles. From its high armrests, to provide privacy for all matters of which you may want to hide, to its backrest and cushion that completely envelopes your body.

The OPERA can also be used as a versatile lounge chair in larger configurations, much like PLANET, or in smaller configurations like PIERCE. Both of these elegant iterations can be found together just steps away at Optima Kierland® in Scottsdale. The OPERA chair provides a human-scale sense of privacy, as well as a space for contemplation or conversation in our business center. This striking piece is the perfect place for our residents to relax in solitude without being completely separated from friends, and we’re delighted to include this iconic design to Optima’s® Modernist collection!

How Rainwater Harvesting Heals The Earth

Efforts across the country are underway to bolster aging water infrastructure in order to reduce stormwater impacts, shrink carbon footprints, and mitigate the heat island effect. In keeping with this focus on the environment and our commitment to the 2030 challenge of fostering sustainability, Optima McDowell Mountain Village® breaks ground in spring/summer 2023 with the distinction of being the largest private rainwater harvesting site in the United States to-date. On the cusp of this exciting and important initiative, we’re sharing insights into how rainwater harvesting heals the Earth and some of the many benefits.

There’s no denying it. Aging water infrastructure is expensive to update — especially when you look at our nation’s drinking water report card — groundwater and reservoirs are most often at the bottom of the class. However, by conserving and supplying a portion of water from the rain, you drastically reduce your draw on stressed systems.

In a natural landscape, approximately 50% of storm water infiltrates the ground, hydrating soils and recharging groundwater. Around 40% evaporates and 10% runs off.

By contrast, in developed landscapes (i.e our cities and neighborhoods), only 15% filters into the soil and a whopping 55% runs off! This is because water can’t penetrate roads, rooftops, parking lots, etc. And to make matters worse, the runoff rainwater travels along impervious surfaces toward storm drains, carrying the pollutants that were left behind. Things such as: sediment, litter (like cigarette butts), fertilizers, pet waste, yard debris, oils, and many other contaminants.

Have you ever heard the mantra: “Slow it, Spread it, Sink it, Store it”? Well, when you collect rainwater, you reduce stormwater impacts by holding water on-site rather than letting it run off.

As water gets released, it sinks back into the ground, hydrating soils, nourishing plants, and recharging the groundwater beneath us. In other words, the broken infiltration link in the hydrologic cycle is repaired.

Rain Water Harvesting Steel Tanks
Rain Water Harvesting Steel Tanks. Photo: © 2023 Protank

There is a strong nexus between energy and water in our modern world. Hydroelectricity is the most obvious link, using the water stored in dams to provide renewable energy. In the state of California, for example, heating, treating, and transporting water accounts for nearly 20% of per-capita energy use! By reducing reliance on pumped water sources, we contribute to a collective savings in energy at the same time. Not to mention that rainwater harvesting will help individuals save on their water bills and cut costs for entire communities. The cost to supply overall water services can be substantially reduced when many people in one community use rainwater.

Optima McDowell Mountain Village®
Optima McDowell Mountain Village®

By tapping into an otherwise-wasted water source, we can create abundance in our own backyards and communities. If others do the same, we collectively have the power to bring vitality back to an ailing environment. 

As we break ground on Optima McDowell Mountain Village® we will share fascinating details about how rainwater harvesting is front and center in the community’s design and construction.

Arizona Mid-Century Modern Architecture

For those who are always on the hunt for vestiges of mid-century modernism, you’ll have some happy surprises right in Optima®’s own backyard — in Scottsdale. Here you’ll discover a history that is rich in architectural heft, including wholly-intact examples from the city’s 1950s community, where some of the finest mid-century modern structures remain.  

Striking examples of mid-century modernity can be seen in Scottsdale’s commercial buildings scattered across the city, alongside several repurposed pubs and restaurants. Architectural gems can also be found in older neighborhoods. Especially those that were built by Ralph Haver. A local architect who utilized walls of glass, low-pitched roofs, and angled porch posts all packaged within a modestly-sized home.

Ralph Haver home
Ralph Haver home. Photo: Leland Gebhardt

And don’t miss another example of impeccably-renovated mid-century vernacular in the sleek Hotel Valley Ho. The hotel boasts façades of glass and concrete panels that express arrowhead motifs. Opened in 1956, it was largely a getaway for a number of Hollywood stars. Zsa Zsa Gabor rode horses there. Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner had their wedding reception in the hotel ballroom. And Jimmy Durante used to play piano late at night in the lobby.

Hotel Valley Ho
Hotel Valley Ho. ©2011 Mark Boisclair Photography Inc.

The Arizona Biltmore, a 39-acre resort not far down the road, is another example of the city’s architectural history. The Biltmore is often identified as a Frank Lloyd Wright building, but it was actually designed in collaboration with Albert Chase McArthur, a protege of the great master.

The nearly century-old hotel: Arizona Biltmore
The nearly century-old hotel: Arizona Biltmore. Photo: Werner Segarra

The Biltmore has the dramatic presence of a large-scale Wright building, and is one of only 13 structures that Wright designed and in the area. His students, on the other hand, were involved with many others. For Wright acolytes, any visit to the Phoenix area begins with his winter residence and headquarters, Taliesin West. Now home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and located on the edge of the McDowell Mountains outside of Scottsdale. Which also happens to be where our most recent architectural development will be situated — Optima McDowell Mountain Village — Wright passed on his genius to an entire generation of eager architects such as Blaine Drake, Vern Swaback, and Heloise Crista.

No survey of mid-century modernist architecture is complete without the David and Gladys Wright House. David was one of Wright’s eight children, and the house the elder Wright designed for him was based on a rising spiral (also the design for New York’s Guggenheim Museum) while remaining imaginative and human in scale. The spiral lifts the living quarters above the treetops so that anyone in the house has access to carefully framed panoramic views of the mountains in the distance, and spaces that flow organically and wonderfully into one another.

It’s always a pleasure to connect our “Forever Modern” mantra at Optima® with the broad, deep mid-century modern legacy that lives on in the communities where we work and build!

Megan Hernandez Team Member Spotlight

At Optima®, our communities would not thrive without the outstanding work from our spirited team of individuals. We recently sat down with Megan Hernandez, People Experience Generalist at Optima, to discuss why she loves being part of such a passionate team and what she has learned throughout her experience here:

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

My background is in human resources and administration. I spent some time applying this skill set in the finance industry and also worked in the city election space before coming to Optima. At Optima, I’m the People Experience Generalist based in Arizona. An interesting fact is that I lived in Chicago for my whole life before moving to Arizona, so I was able to also meet the Illinois-based team before moving to the Southwest. And now that I’m in Arizona, I am responsible for providing enhanced, more tangible support for our growing number of employees here, focusing on benefits, hiring, employee engagement and other fun things like that.

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

I was inspired to take my position at Optima in large part because of the great things I heard from Lisa Lowenthal, our People Experience Director. She went into detail about how Optima truly cares about its employees. I then did my research on the company, studied their history, learned about current projects and plans for the future, and came to understand their involvement in the community. Everything I learned excited me. When I was still living in downtown Chicago, I’d visited Optima Signature. At the time, I was in awe with everything the building offered and the quality of life for its residents, without even realizing it was an Optima property! That was a great discovery and connection to make after the fact, and further reinforced my great admiration for the company and its people. 

I would say the people here keep me motivated and make me feel grounded. There’s a team atmosphere that makes me and everyone here feel welcomed, accepted and part of something.

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

When I think of community at Optima, the first things that come to mind are connection and collaboration. To me, the concept of community at Optima means working together to create and cultivate that connection with other people and our surroundings. I would say that’s true for the Optima team internally but also for the people that we serve, the residents.

We have an understanding that community impacts how we live and how we work. In some ways, the team’s always connected with each other and the residents, and just by doing our part, we’re making a difference and creating an experience for those residents. I’ll also say that community means being able to collaborate and share ideas with people from all parts of the process, whether that be People Experience working with Marketing or working with Property Management, it’s a collaborative culture, and we’re able to touch different parts of the process.

I would say our concept of community is unique because we deliver a first-rate quality of life to residents and to people who work here by creating more than just individual living spaces. We create an environment that encourages you to be present in the moment and stop to marvel at what’s around you. I think that sets us apart from other buildings. And I’ll also say that as a People Experience team member, Optima is full of people that make you feel welcome, and that genuinely want you to have a great experience.

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?

Building strong, lasting relationships comes to mind first. To me, building strong relationships empowers us to be our most authentic selves and gives us the space and insight to support each other. Relationships and a healthy community are the foundation of the great team culture at Optima. We strive to bring out the best in each other on a day-to-day basis and invest in bettering ourselves, in the growth of others on the team, and even in the residents.

I would say I enjoy spending time on our various properties, which allows me to see and experience the connection that these teams have created with the residents. It’s beautiful and unique to Optima. I work at the Camelview Village office, which is close to Sonoran Village, and then Kierland is just right up the road. So I’ve spent some time at all of our different communities, and every time I go, I’m encouraged to go back and spend more time with the team and the people there.

One other value that sticks out to me is that we all create. While People Experience might not be the first team you would necessarily think of as a very creative role, I can say first-hand that it is, because we are encouraged to bring fresh thinking into everything we do.

What are some of the things you have learned in your time at Optima? 

The phrase, ‘you learn something new every day’ is so fitting. One major thing that comes to mind is that the mainstream or standard way of doing things is not always the best way. Optima is vertically integrated, meaning that we control all aspects of our process, and I think that’s a wonderful example of learning new things. I’ve seen in real-time how our model creates a cycle of improvement and encourages communication. One team may see an opportunity for improvement, and they’re able to bring that to other teams, which can spark a discussion, large or small, that can make a positive change. It’s more than just finishing one project and moving on to the next, it’s a cycle of learning and bringing that knowledge with you to the future.

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

I would say working at Optima, I’m proud to be part of something that strives for quality and isn’t afraid to set the bar high. I think it’s amazing to be part of a team that takes agency in what we’re doing, from the gorgeous designs to the top-tier resident experiences to the impeccable craftsmanship of our builders. Optima is full of people who want to help in any way that we can however we can, and that mindset is something I can connect with and be proud of. 

Are there any upcoming Optima projects, experiences, etc. that you are most excited about looking at the year ahead?

I’m especially excited to be a part of our growth with Optima Verdana opening in Wilmette this year and construction starting on Optima McDowell Mountain Village in Scottsdale, because my job is helping bring fantastic team members into our Optima family.

person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL





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