Developers Seek Insight on Renters’ Preferences - LBPM

Developers Seek Insight on Renters’ Preferences

Developers Seek Insight on Renters’ Preferences

One of L.A.’s largest property management firms has found a way to stand out from the increasing competition by helping developers design apartments to attract tenants before the properties are built rather than just managing them once they’re finished.

With almost 30 years behind it managing apartment complexes, LB Property Management Inc. in Sherman Oaks has been using its first hand knowledge of renters’ likes and dislikes to advise developer clients on issues such as potential rental rates on new projects, what amenities renters prefer and even the most popular unit size and layout designs, said cofounder and President Robert Lopata.

The Company’s expertise is becoming more valuable because the typical apartment builder wants to build inexpensively and then attract tenants with “bells and whistles,” he said.

For example, one developer client considered including pantries in its apartment kitchens. But LB Property managers saw firsthand from renters that most eat out, and don’t cook enough to need that extra space. Instead, the staff recommended using the space so tenant could have larger refrigerators.

In another example, the developer wanted to include fireplaces as a luxury amenity.

“No one’s going to put it on,” Lopata explained. “Quite honestly, we (told them we) think they (tenants) would prefer space for a larger TV.”

LB Property has also consulted with the developer of a 146-unit complex proposed to be built near California State University – Northridge and which is going through the entitlement process.

As the firm already manages several complexes near the campus, Lopata said his staff knows the needs and wants of student renters.

They’ve found that in other complexes, students value privacy enough to pay higher rents for floorplans that separate bedrooms, over cheaper rent for larger layouts where the bedrooms share walls. The developer is now designing smaller units with separated bedrooms, Lopata said. Plus, building smaller saves money.

“You can build smaller units if you build the right floorplan,” he explained. “They (students) prefer it and we’re saving money on construction with the smaller unit that they are happier with.”

Innov818

Light industrial properties in Chatsworth and Northridge are vulnerable to rezoning, says a city of L.A. legislator, so the two communities need their own designated corridor.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitchell Englander introduced a motion last month that outlined steps to create a defined hub for light industrial uses to attract certain types of firms.

The hub would be called the Chatsworth – Northridge Industrial Core, or Innov818, and would be bounded by Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Lassen Street, Mason Avenue, Plummer Street, Corbin Avenue and Nordhoff Street, according to Englander’s motion.

Englander wants to entice hightech, cleantech, greentech and biotech firms with high paying jobs to the area. Aerospace was the Valley’s past economic and technological core, according to Englander, but such employers are now vulnerable to being rezoned with potentially negative impacts.

“The rising cost of real estate threatens to break up and repurpose this area which can make it difficult for new companies and industries to take root,” he explained. “The creation of Innov818 fortifies this asset while it is still intact. This designation will also allow us to begin to experiment with street design and other amenities to create the kind of modern industrial campus that businesses demand.”

New Whole Foods

The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association is gaining slow but steady progress on negotiations with the developer of a proposed Whole Foods Market Inc. supermarket.

Pacific Star Capital of Santa Monica has implemented some of the design changes based on the association’s recommendations, SOHA said in its newsletter to residents.

However, several issues remain relating to traffic and safety, controlling the noise from refrigerated delivery trucks, constructing a barrier around the eating area and whether there will be a closing time for the operation. The chain, which has agreed to be bought by Amazon.com Inc. of Seattle and Walnut Merger Sub Inc., a subsidiary in Texas, has proposed a 52,400-square-foot market at 14311 Ventura Blvd. Because the plan calls for buildings that will replace a parking lot, a zone change is required.


Staff Reporter Carol Lawrence can be reached at (818) 316-3123, or [email protected]