Optima Celebrates Groundbreaking

WILMETTE — Design-driven real estate development firm Optima, Inc. announced its own construction team broke ground on the six-story, 100-unit Optima Verdana luxury apartment building in downtown Wilmette. The development is the firm’s second new Chicago-area retail and luxury apartment building to break ground in the last year — the 198-unit Optima Lakeview is scheduled for completion in spring 2022. Optima Verdana plans to welcome its first residents in spring 2023.

Located at the corner of Central Avenue and Green Bay Road, Optima Verdana will bring a new level of rental luxury to the North Shore. Featuring one-, two- and three-bedroom residences with an average size of 1,507 square feet, the boutique building will also feature 8,000 square feet of street-level retail.

Optima Gets Approval for New Mixed-Use Project on Chicago’s North Shore

Optima Inc. has received approval from the village of Wilmette to develop its latest mixed-use project on Chicago’s North Side.

The company plans to develop 109 luxury apartments along with more than 8,000 square feet of street-level retail at 1210 Central Ave., across the street from the Metra station at Green Bay Road. The project is slated to break ground in late 2021.

Optima, is known for its residential developments around the Chicago and Phoenix areas. The company in particular has targeted the North Shore, where it has developed 20 projects including the 660-unit Optima Old Orchard Woods condominium development in Skokie.

The company also started construction last month on Optima Lakeview, a mixed-use, transit-oriented development located at 3460 N. Broadway in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. The project has been designed to include 198 apartments and street-level retail, and is slated to open in 2022.

Optima’s new project in Wilmette has been drawn up to include one-, two- and three-bedroom units to go along with 28 street parking spaces for public use. It is also set to feature Optima’s vertical landscaping system that includes self-containing irrigation and drainage for specially chosen plants that will stay green through cold Chicago winters.

Planned amenities at the project include a rooftop pool and sky deck access, electric vehicle charging stations, 173 parking spaces and access to a residential courtyard. An 8-foot tall sculpture, to be created by David Hovey, the building’s designer, will be situated near the building’s entry along with benches for the public to enjoy the view.
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2023, and Optima aims to earn Green Globes Certification for the building.

Read the full feature on Costar

Master Class in Service: 10 Ways to Spur Renewals


In today’s apartment marketplace, where rents and occupancy are at historically high levels, quality customer service is proving to be the differentiator.

Of the many consequences of contending with the pandemic, one of the most visible has been a groundswell in expressions of frustration. From air travel to dining to work and school, the list of grievances runs long, and rental housing residents are no different, from the perception that maintenance takes too long to coffee machines running dry.

One of the biggest complaints has been the difficulty of working from a small apartment, according to buzz at the National Multifamily Housing Council’s (NMHC) 2022 annual meeting, says attendee Mary Cook, founder of Chicago-based Mary Cook Associates (MCA), a commercial interior design firm. “Two years ago, 20 percent might have worked from home and now 45 percent do a few days each week,” Cook says. “They get upset if staff is making noise blowing leaves or cutting a lawn.”

Property managers have complaints and frustrations, too, facing a shrunken labor pool and disrupted supply chains. Despite the apartment industry experiencing historically strong occupancy levels, managers are not taking the high numbers for granted. If COVID-19 has brought home any message, it’s that situations change—fast.

Many are listening closely to residents, taking notes about leading causes of dismay and sources of joy, developing creative solutions to increase net referrals. The strategies that seem to make the biggest difference are good customer service and value. Some companies, like Chicago-based Optima Inc., a developer and property manager that created 2,135 units in Illinois and Arizona, has trademarked its Optimized Service, the equivalent of an in-home concierge, to make clear it prioritizes service.

As rent prices climb, quality service becomes more critical. The following are 10 ways to achieve it.


Read more on National Apartments Association

This Week’s Chicago Deal Sheet

The north suburban village of Wilmette gave final approval on Optima’s plans for a mixed-use development of 109 apartments and street-level retail at 1210 Central Ave. Optima plans to break ground in late 2021 at the site, which is occupied by a bank and is across the street from the Metra commuter train station at Green Bay Road.

Optima has offices in nearby Glencoe and a long history of developing North Shore projects. In 2010, it completed the 660-unit Optima Old Orchard Woods condominium building in Skokie, one of 20 North Shore projects by the company. According to Optima officials, their new Wilmette project will include environmentally friendly features and design elements that help it blend with the rest of downtown.

“As with each project we design and build, we’re very careful to ensure the buildings respect their environment and have a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhood,” Optima CEO David Hovey said in a press release. “This development will be no different, as not only will it deliver the size of homes and amenities residents in Wilmette want, but the exterior design will feature our signature vertical landscaping system and public art component that will enhance the downtown community’s energy and aesthetic.”

Hovey designed the new Wilmette development, which will have one-, two- and three-bedroom rental units and more than 8K SF of street-level commercial space. Floors one through three will use bird-friendly glass, and the 173 parking spaces will include some electric vehicle charging stations.

Read the full feature at Bisnow

Pickleball Takes Its Place as the Must-Have Luxury Amenity

Making Use of Existing Tennis and Basketball Courts

Before installing dedicated courts, luxury developers can try out pickleball at their facilities for a negligible price. They can add lines to existing tennis and basketball courts and roll out temporary nets.

The Abaco Club gauged residents’ interest in the game by adding stripes to its tennis court before committing to the smaller-sized courts. The residential developer Optima Inc., which owns properties in Scottsdale, Arizona and Chicago, did the same by painting stripes on indoor basketball courts.

“The requirements are similar to those of an indoor basketball court, so it’s been an easy addition. The most important thing to consider in planning a pickleball court is space and creating the striping overlay on the existing court in a way that’s cohesive,” said David Hovey Jr., AIA, president, COO and principal architect of Optima, Inc.

MoreWhether in a Garden or on a Windowsill, These High-Tech Gardening Accessories Will Help Your Plants Thrive

To meet demand, they’ve planned an outdoor pickleball stadium at their forthcoming luxury apartment tower, 7190 Optima Kierland. The 216-unit tower is slated to open in 2023 in Scottsdale. “We’re excited to build resident programming around this newest feature, possibly hosting a tournament,” Mr. Hovey said.


Read the full article on Mansion Global

These Projects Breaking Ground Next Year Show Developers Still Have High Hopes, At Least Outside The Loop

Construction sites across the Chicago region hummed with activity throughout the coronavirus pandemic, largely thanks to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s determination that such projects were key to sustaining the economy and his decision to not issue any orders stopping construction.

The bet paid off by keeping thousands of workers employed, but these projects, including the 101-story Vista Tower, the 55-story Bank of America Tower at 110 North Wacker Drive, JDL Development’s 76-story One Chicago Square in River North and Sterling Bay’s 47-story mixed-use tower at 300 North Michigan Ave., all had financing in place, and developers were completing well-advanced plans.

Launching new projects in the midst of the pandemic and subsequent steep job losses is another level of risk, and many developers and lenders decided to hold off.

Construction starts in the Chicago metro area totaled $8.9B in the first 10 months of 2020, a 23% decline from the $11.6B recorded in the same time period last year, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The decline was especially steep for residential construction, which totaled $3.4B so far in 2020, compared to $4.7B over the same time in 2019, a 28% drop.

The recession has hit service and hospitality workers the hardest, while work-from-home technology sustains millions of well-paid office jobs. That has given other builders the confidence to keep breaking ground on some office and residential towers, especially ones outside the largely empty Loop, activity that will help sustain the region’s construction industry until COVID-19 vaccines put an end to the pandemic.

Below are six new projects going forward next year and one honorable mention.

Optima Wilmette

As the downtown residential market suffers, many renters have started considering the suburbs, and developers are ready to seize that advantage. Optima has completed nearly two dozen developments in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs and in 2021 will break ground on a mixed-use development of 109 apartments and street-level retail at 1210 Central Ave. in north suburban Wilmette. Optima CEO David Hovey designed the building, which he said would satisfy the demand not just for suburban living but, with its bird-friendly glass and electric vehicle charging stations, for apartment buildings that include environmentally friendly features.

“As with each project we design and build, we’re very careful to ensure the buildings respect their environment and have a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhood,” Hovey said in a press release.

Read the full feature on Bisnow

Some 2020 Trends May Just Last

Home builders learned long ago to bring the outdoors in, and now apartment developers are doing the same. “With more people spending time at home, it’s important to thoughtfully create a variety of spaces that allow residents to find inspiration in their natural surroundings and recharge,” says architect David Hovey, president of Optima Inc.

Optima Inc. has long made biophilic design a hallmark of its work, but it’s going greener still with three new projects. In the Chicago area, for example, Optima Lakeview will feature a distinctive landscaped interior atrium that will run through the building’s seven-story core and bring light into both the residential and retail areas of the building.

In Scottsdale, Ariz., Optima Kierland offers a dramatic vertical landscaping system that can be seen from every one of the 363 rental units and 433 condo apartments. And for the recently announced rental project in downtown Wilmette, Ill., Optima will import the landscaping model it is creating in Arizona, including hand-selected plants that will stay green year-round.

“Because we serve as both architect and developer on our projects,” says Hovey, “it makes it easier to prioritize these green spaces, which not only improve the air quality for our residents, but also those living near our buildings, as vertical gardens filter pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air.”

Read the full feature on Multi-Housing News

Visit Optima Lakeview and Optima Kierland for more details

How Most New Projects Weave in Wellness

Designers discuss the health-minded elements that are becoming standard in multifamily development.

Low VOC materials and enhanced filtration create wellness-essential indoor air. Credit: Cooper Cary

From students to seniors and affordable to affluent, apartment communities offering wellness features have strong appeal. Features will vary by region and population, so determining which ones make sense for your property will be a customized experience. Here’s what seven industry pros have found in their work.

“At least 70 percent of the newer communities in a market will contain a fitness center,” remarked Kimberly Bynum, multifamily managing principal with Newport Beach-based housing market research firm Zonda. Walkability and pedestrian friendly design, as well as ample, accessible green space and native landscaping are also popular.

Within individual rental units, Bynum pointed to patios and floor-to-ceiling windows for high-rise-buildings. Her firm’s findings suggest healthy/nontoxic/non-off-gassing building materials, hard surface flooring throughout instead of carpeting and improved ventilation appeal to prospective tenants for Class A developers.

Fitness facilities, nature connections and indoor air quality are widely accepted as essential wellness features across all rental categories. How those show up varies by location, user profile and market level.

“Enhanced air filtration and low volatile organic compound materials are the features that we specify on every project,” declared Krista Dumkrieger, principal with the Atlanta-based mixed-use residential studio in Cooper Carry. “Being thoughtful in material specification is one of the most cost effective ways to provide a healthy space for residents.”

Outdoor space is also imperative. “Preferably each unit will have its own dedicated space, even if it’s small. At a minimum, an outdoor area on the property that’s not completely paved,” the architect added. She noted that with so many working from home and spending more time there, this imperative is more important than ever.

Wellness for Students

One of the most-used amenities for student housing properties is the in-building fitness center, declared Jay Pearlman, senior vice president with The Scion Group, a Chicago-headquartered advisory services for student housing communities. “Residents want up-to-date fitness technology such as subscription-based cycling,” he said. “Today’s student residents also have a broader definition of wellness and seek ways to counteract stressors.” His firm is seeing increased demand for yoga and meditation rooms, as well as outdoor space for gathering, fitness and quiet solitude.

Wellness for Seniors

“Many of the must-have wellness features in senior living are those that connect residents with nature,” shared Johnny Dagher, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, principal at Orlando-based Baker Barrios Architects.

Natural connections extend indoors with biophilia-inspired elements like garden walls, water features and natural lighting, the architect added. “There is a great deal of research showing the connection between natural elements and well-being,” he said. “For example, sitting by a fire is a multi-sensory experience, promoting social interaction and relaxation, but for senior living, particularly assisted living and memory care, we need to be sensitive to safety concerns.” Water vapor fireplaces, which don’t produce heat, is one option to add this feature safely.

Multi-purpose spaces, pet amenities and gardening beds are all affordable, appealing ways to add wellness features with a solid return on investment, Dagher added.

Fireplaces are multi-sensory wellness features, rendered with water vapor for safer senior gatherings. Credit: Baker Barrios / Tuscan Garden

When it comes to the unit itself, high ceilings and larger windows promote well-being, he comments. “Vinyl plank flooring is also a good option for creating a home-like feeling while more low-maintenance compared to traditional wood or carpet,” he said.

Technology integration is a top priority for senior living communities, Dagher noted. Examples include adding spaces dedicated to telemedicine and in-unit smart home technology. He also predicted the appeal of AI technologies to help prevent falls, improve indoor air quality and even offer virtual reality spaces.

It is also essential to understand the needs of future residents, especially in the senior housing space. Tomorrow’s Gen X senior, Dagher pointed out, will be a different tenant than today’s Greatest Generation resident. It’s entirely possible that your mother will spend some of her golden years in the metaverse, as well as in her apartment.

Wellness for Affordable Communities

Affordable projects may lack water walls and connected fitness centers, but their creators, like San Francisco Bay Area-based Community Housing Opportunities Corp., want their properties to enhance the well-being of their lower-income tenants, too. Amenities for the nonprofit community developer’s Palm Springs 60-unit neighborhood include a dog park, splash pad and two BBQ areas.

Another desert region project on CHOC’s planning boards will feature unit terraces with nature views. “Other areas we’re looking at include wider stairways to encourage socialization and ease of use,” shared the project’s architect, Maria Song, AIA, LEED & AP, principal of Interactive Design Corp. “‘Active staircases’ encourage taking the stairs rather than the elevator. This promotes exercise as well. Typically, we include an indoor/outdoor fitness area, or an on-site fitness center if possible. Other areas that developers may explore include creating smaller courtyards which will work for an intimate space for gathering.”

Within the affordable units, cross ventilations through window placement design in addition to air-conditioning and natural lighting serve as wellness features. “We also design accessible kitchens and bathrooms, private balconies on the upper floors and private porches on the first floors to allow outdoor access,” Song said. She predicted more work from home spaces, smart technology for security, more outdoor spaces and on-site wellness amenities like shared kitchens and community centers.

One resource available to affordable communities wanting to be wellness-focused is Fannie Mae’s Healthy Housing Rewards program. Introduced in 2017 for multifamily borrowers who incorporate wellness design features—certified through partners like the Center for Active Design’s Fitwel program—the program provides pricing breaks for new or renovated rental properties.

“We recognized that the success of affordable multifamily properties is directly tied to the health and stability of the residents,” said Karyn Sper, Fannie Mae’s senior director of multifamily customer and partner management. The program is small but growing, “But it’s not for every multifamily owner,” Sper added. “There is a commitment both in terms of meeting the affordability requirement—at least 50 percent of units must be restricted to households earning no more than 80 percent of Area Median Income—and obtaining and maintaining the required certifications.” Sper recommends that those interested in applying should start early.

Wellness for Market Rate Communities

Market rate communities must have club-level fitness facilities. Credit: PMG / Society Living / X Miami Apartments

Fitness, fitness, fitness! All Society Living communities have pool decks, large gyms and a studio for trainer-led classes. There’s also a yoga lawn for outdoor group workouts and wellness-related programming like nutrition.

“Hosting frequent fitness events and keeping a large gym well-operating can be expensive, but it’s a marketing and retention tool that brings major value,” observed Ryan Shear, managing partner at Miami-headquartered developer PMG. The firm is exploring fresh food vending machines, meditation pods and individualized training as opportunities for ancillary revenue.

Gym facilities and programming are the most in-demand amenities, he said, and they must be competitive with private health clubs in the area—not just other communities. The trend is toward more free weights, functional training and group classes and away from plate-loaded machines, he notes.

Within Society Living’s units are enhanced air filtration, large windows and natural light. PMG is “exploring enhanced water purification and air filtration systems in upcoming developments,” Shear commented.

Luxury communities also have pools, yoga studios, fitness centers and classes, as you’d expect. Optima adds saunas and massage rooms (connected to an app for booking services) in their wellness complexes. Given Chicago’s frigid winters, climate control is key.

Premium wellness facilities like saunas are hallmarks of luxury living. Credit: Optima / Optima Lakeview / Michael Duerinckx Photography

“Optima Lakeview boasts the region’s only heated, year-round rooftop swimming pool,” shared David Hovey Jr., AIA, president and principal architect of Illinois and Arizona-based real estate developer Optima, Inc. There’s also a heated dog park. Pickleball and Pilates have been popular, so the developer is looking at expanding those offerings to other communities.

Suburban Chicago Optima Verdana will also have an herb garden and a garden lounge, as well as three outdoor terraces, all designed for year-round use when it opens in 2023. “We believe people will continue to seek usable outdoor space, as we learned during the pandemic the importance of fresh air and being outside,” Hovey shared. This is even true in Chicago winters, he adds.

Within Optima’s units, expansive terraces—some with private grills—and floor-to-ceiling windows are extremely popular. “The most searched for wellness design features are the views from our terraces,” Hovey reports.

“Covid really took a growing interest in holistic wellness and supercharged it,” Cooper Carry’s Dumkrieger observeds, noting how the pandemic also brought mental health conversations and the underappreciated benefits of biophilia into the mainstream. Those biophilic offerings include the green spaces and nature views communities across all categories are incorporating. “Preferably each unit will have its own dedicated space, even if it’s small,” she suggested.


Read more on Multi-Housing News

Visit Optima Lakeview & Optima Verdana for more details

Optima, Inc. expands property management and leasing portfolio with three Chicago-area luxury rental communities

Optima, Inc. announced that it will lead property management and leasing services at three Chicagoland Class A rental buildings—its 490-unit Optima Signature mixed-use development in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood, the under-construction 198-unit Optima Lakeview in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood and its upcoming 109-unit building in downtown Wilmette, Illinois, along Chicago’s North Shore.

While Optima has served as the owner, architect, developer and general contractor for its properties in Chicago and Arizona for more than 40 years, the firm primarily focused its property management services at its Scottsdale, Arizona rental communities, including the two-tower, 363-unit Optima Kierland Apartments and the five-building, 768-unit Optima Sonoran Village.

“As we expand our portfolio in the Chicago area with two new luxury apartments in development, it is a natural progression to bring management in-house, enabling us to provide the same level of exceptional service we’ve perfected at our Arizona communities,” said David Hovey Jr., AIA, president and COO of Optima, Inc. “Optima Signature residents will quickly recognize our commitment to the resident experience, because as the designer, builder, and property manager, we are able to create a truly holistic experience, tailored to their preferences.”

To kick off its property management services at Optima Signature this month, Optima has unveiled a full roster of resident services and virtual event programming such as housekeeping, pet care, car care, virtual fitness classes and room service and barista service through Pear Chef.

Open since 2017 and just steps from Michigan Avenue and the Riverwalk, Optima Signature is a 57-story luxury rental development at 220 E. Illinois St. with 490 studio, convertible, one-, two- and three-bedroom units with 1.5 acres of amenity space.

Optima Signature’s first-class amenities include resort-style indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools; cabanas and bars; a cutting-edge fitness center with saunas, steam rooms and WELLBEATS virtual workout studio; resident lounge with coffee bar; basketball, squash and bocce ball courts; and golf simulator and putting green. On a separate floor, residents can access cardio and strength-training equipment, a yoga studio, locker rooms with both steam and shower and indoor children’s play area.

Outdoor amenities feature multiple terraces with 16 fire pits, new heat lamps to enable more outdoor time during the cold weather months, a 40-yard running track, dog park, children’s play area, whirlpool spa, cabanas, lounge seating, televisions, co-ed sauna and steam rooms, a kitchen, grilling stations and dining areas.

Scheduled to open in spring 2022 at 3460 N. Broadway, Optima Lakeview is a seven-story transit-oriented development (TOD) of 198 one-, two- and three-bedroom units with 14,000 square feet of street-level retail in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood within walking distance of Lake Michigan and Wrigley Field.

Optima Lakeview’s 40,000-square-feet of amenities will be spread across the building and include a rooftop sky deck with pool, spa, terrace and party room; a striking glass-enclosed atrium; indoor basketball court; golf simulator and putting green; fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment; yoga/stretching room; sports lounge; dog park and pet spa; children’s play area; game room; demonstration kitchen; two conference rooms; and a business center. Residents can use the 94 fully enclosed parking spaces at grade level and storage for 208 bicycles.

Construction is set to start later this year on a new development of 109 luxury one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and 8,000 square feet of street-level retail at 1210 Central Avenue in downtown Wilmette. The location across the street from the Metra commuter train station at Green Bay Road will be ideal for North Shore commuters. Amenities will include a rooftop sky deck and pool, residential courtyard and a suite of additional amenities. The building will also have 173 parking spaces, including some electric vehicle charging stations.

The Wilmette development will showcase Optima’s innovative vertical landscaping system—well known at its Arizona communities—with hand-selected plants that will stay green year-round, even during the most extreme weather conditions. First move-ins are planned for 2023.

Learn more at Optima Signature

Read the full feature on RE Journals

person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL

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