IRVINE, CA—The design trends of newlydeveloped and renovated WestCoast multifamily properties actually began on theEast Coast, Samuel Simone, senior managingdirector of locally based national developer Mill CreekResidential, tells GlobeSt.com. Simone, who relocated toCalifornia from the Washington, DC, area in 2012, says trends likesmaller unit sizes and enhanced common amenities got their startback East, where the recovery from the recession began earlier thanout here.

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“East Coast multifamily development reboundedquicker from the recession than the West Coast,” says Simone. “Thenew cycle started on the East Coast and moved west, so we were ableto take some East Coast ideas and implement them in the newconstruction out here. Unit design and mix haveevolved significant. The emphasis is on smaller, more-efficientunits translating to more cost-effective units for residents. Theother concept was to accentuate the amenities.”

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One of Mill Creek's latest projects is ModeraIrvine, a boutique multifamily communityin the Irvine Business Complex here that brokeground in May 2013 and has gone through at least one name changeduring its development. Previously called EXOIrvine, the 194-unit community is preparing to beginleasing in August, and the final units will be available in thefirst quarter of 2015, according to Simone. Amenities include aclubroom, outdoor ping pong and pool tables, outdoor waterfeatures, an Olympic-size pool, multiple outdoor grilling stationsand cabanas with TVs and iPod docking stations.

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“Because of its relatively small boutique size, we didn't gooverboard with the amenities,” says Simone. “They're appropriatefor the size of the community. We placed the emphasis on the fitand finish level of the amenity space. That'swhere we're spending our dollars.”

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He adds that the property is “uniquely positioned in the marketto provide the highest level of finishes from both an amenities andunit-finish standpoint in the Irvine market to date.” He points outthat Modera Irvine will be one of the first new deliveries in thisarea of Irvine, and the competitive set is an older stock ofhousing with older finish levels. Some of the finishes at the newcommunity include quartz countertops, 42-in. cabinets (some of themcustom) full-glass upper cabinets and movable kitchen islands insome units—a feature that is new to the region.

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The unique positioning of Modera Irvine as a boutiquemultifamily home community, given its size relative to thecompetitive set in Irvine, is a major distinguishing point,according to Simone. “The intimacy of the amenity spaces,accentuated with the high quality of finish level will also allowus to distinguish this community form the competitive set.” Hedefines “boutique” in multifamily as smaller and moreresident-friendly and says it will consist of one building wrappedaround an above-grade garage structure.

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Carrie Rossenfeld

Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the San Diego and Orange County markets on GlobeSt.com and a contributor to Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City before moving to Southern California to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics including commercial real estate, running a medical practice, intellectual-property licensing and giftware. She has edited books about profiting from real estate and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.