Building Out

Building Out


MARCH 13, 2023

Despite a difficult financing market and economic uncertainty, Century City-based Cityview is not shying away from development. The multifamily developer, which oversees a $3 billion portfolio, has four projects in the works in Los Angeles: the 243-unit Belle on Bev in Filipinotown, the 123-unit Liv on Pico in Mid-City, the 296-unit Jasper near USC and the 265-unit South Bay X in Gardena.

Cityview Chief Executive Sean Burton called 2022 “the best year in the history of the firm,” but added that he expected 2023 to hold a few challenges.

This year, the company is looking to do six to eight projects in the Western U.S. — a combination of ground-up projects and acquisitions — and in 2024 increase that number to 10 to 12. Notably, all of the company’s projects will be comprised of 150 to 200 units.

“It takes the same amount of work to do a 150-unit deal as it does to do a 50-unit deal,” Burton said.

But rising interest rates and new regulations in Los Angeles are both going to impact development nationwide and in the city, Burton said.

Interest rates

Perhaps the biggest area of concern for many developers now is that rising interest rates is leading to a difficult lending environment.

“Development is adjusting, the lending for development has been challenging,” said Kitty Wallace, a senior executive vice president at Colliers. “The peak of our market was early this past year. Rents were increasing … rents were growing and our fundamentals were very strong and our debt market was pretty good. Then our debt market got softer and softer and softer.”

“The market has moved substantially,” she added. “We had a drop from March to November and then from November to March.”

Burton said it took “more time and it’s harder to get financing now” leading to Cityview “tightening our underwriting for new projects.”

He said the company had also “dampened our rent growth expectations” over concerns of a potential recession and was willing to pay less for land than it may have before in order to still make a profit. Still, he said Cityview is going to continue to develop despite a difficult financing market.

Cityview has made sure to have discretionary capital available to be ready for any opportunities that do arise.

“When things turn, they turn very quickly,” Burton said, adding that this could mean deals for the firm.

LA’s issues

Despite Cityview being based in Los Angeles, Burton said the city “continues to be a smaller part of our national footprint because of regulatory challenges.”

“Some … don’t want to build anymore in L.A. because of what’s transpired,” Wallace added. “These legislative challenges have caused some of the people that are good at building to leave.”

Burton is still interested in L.A. County, but said there were some difficulties in the city.

One is Measure ULA, which goes into effect in April and increases the transfer tax for real estate sales of more than $5 million in L.A.

“ULA was a massive blow to the industry. It’s a huge disincentive to invest capital in L.A. It’s one of the largest (transfer taxes) in the country,” he said.

Wallace said people are “getting nervous” about ULA, and that has affected the way investors underwrite projects in L.A.

“We will see some trades for the month of March, we have seen trades all this quarter with institutional sellers selling at lower prices to avoid that tax,” she added.

Peter Yorck, a managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., agreed that Measure ULA was creating issues in the marketplace.

“When we look at development throughout L.A. County, we’re seeing a bifurcation of interest. In the city of Los Angeles, development and equity raises have become a lot more challenging, and that’s almost entirely because of Measure ULA … it will have a material impact in terms of net proceeds,” he said.

Yorck added that areas in L.A. County but not in the city of L.A., such as Culver City and Long Beach, were still seeing a lot of interest.

Late last year, he said, he even saw a number of owners looking to sell properties before Measure ULA went into effect.

Laurie Lustig-Bower, an executive vice president at CBRE Group Inc., said not only sales, but also development, was impacted by Measure ULA.

“Interest for multifamily development has waned a bit. We had rising interest rates of course negatively impact it, but what really had a big hit was the ULA Mansion Tax,” she said. “A lot of people think the Mansion Tax affects the current sale … but what we’re finding with development specifically is this Mansion Tax is having a huge impact on what they can build.”

She added that the developers have to factor in the tax when determining how much can be spent on land and developments to still turn a profit.

Lustig-Bower estimated that land is selling at about a 20% discount as a result.

There are a number of lawsuits looking to block the measure.

Things such as eviction moratoriums and rent control, Burton said, also hurt the city. Burton added that Citiview is not buying rent-controlled buildings and has fewer properties in the city of L.A. now than before.

“L.A. continues to be a smaller part of our national footprint because of regulatory challenges,” Burton said, adding that the city “has a tough reputation as a place to do business.”

He said that Cityview was still interested in L.A. County, but not as much in the city of L.A. where ULA and other regulations are in effect. Areas like Culver City and the area around Space X in Hawthorne are of particular interest, he said.

And Burton said there has been some good legislation lately, like SB330, a state law signed in 2019 which aims to speed up development by limiting the number of hearings for new developments and reducing the timeline for project approvals.

And L.A.’s housing dearth still makes it a desirable market to build in.

“We still have an outrageous shortage of housing units in Southern California and very high barriers to entry,” Wallace said.

New opportunities

Going forward, Cityview is looking at doing work in Los Angeles County, but also in areas outside of L.A., such as Orange County, San Diego, and the Bay Area, as well as outside of California.

Burton said Phoenix, Denver, Texas and Seattle were among areas of interest to the company.

Burton also expects to see some assets sell at a discount, making the company more interested in value-add propositions.

This summer, Burton added, he expects to see some assets that carry a lot of debt and have low interest rates expiring come up for sale.

“In 2023 there will be some strong value-add opportunities,” he said. “There’s a lot of capital out there waiting to pounce.”

Yorck said owners listing their properties now in response to Measure ULA and other factors could mean opportunity for others, but he is still seeing a lot of interest.

“There’s no shortage of bids, there’s no shortage of equity that wants to make deals on the market, but there’s still a bid-ask spread between what buyers want to buy properties for and what sellers are looking to sell for,” he said, adding that “the bid has shrunk.”

And CBRE’s Lustig-Bower said that despite some difficulties in L.A., the city still “has excellent fundamentals in terms of supply and demand. Our occupancy rate in apartments in L.A. City is very high, in most cases over 95% occupied, and we have a really tight rental market.”

Still, she said she is seeing only about 50% of the offer activity she was a year ago.

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Sarah Hunt

Senior Associate, Business Development & Capital Relations

Ms. Hunt joined Cityview in 2021 and is a Senior Associate on the Business Development & Capital Relations team.  She is primarily responsible for relationship management, investor communications, and marketing collateral.  Additionally, she works closely with internal functional teams on due diligence efforts and supports investor reporting and special projects.  She is also a member of Cityview’s Sustainability Committee focused on communication of ESG initiatives to investors.

Ms. Hunt has over six years of real estate investment, capital formation, and investor relations experience.  Prior to joining Cityview, she was an Associate with Chicago-based Magnolia Capital.  During her tenure, she worked on equity capital raises for numerous real estate investment vehicles.  Prior to Magnolia, Ms. Hunt was a Financial Analyst with LaSalle Investment Management where she oversaw the financial performance of assets with over $1 billion in value.

Ms. Hunt received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance, Investment, and Banking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Ramtin Esfandiari

Director, Acquisitions

Ramtin Esfandiari joined Cityview in 2018 and is responsible for managing acquisitions, including sourcing, underwriting and closing multifamily development deals. Prior to joining Cityview, Ramtin was on the Acquisitions team at The Bascom Group where he underwrote over $9 billion in multifamily acquisitions across the U.S. and supported all aspects of the acquisition process. Ramtin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics from the University of California, Irvine, and is an active member of Urban Land Institute.

Jonathan Anderson


Jonathan Anderson is the Controller of Cityview and provides leadership and oversight over the finance, accounting, and shared services departments.  Prior to joining the Cityview team, Jonathan worked at CIM Group where he held several finance and accounting roles during his tenure, most recently as head of private fund reporting and prior to that as director of SEC reporting for one of CIM Group’s publicly traded REITs.  Jonathan began his career in Ernst & Young’s assurance practice where he served both public and private clients in the real estate and asset management industries.  Jonathan graduated from the University of Southern California with both a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in real estate finance.

Tina O’ Brien

HR Director

Tina O’Brien, HR Director, is a senior national and state-certified HR Professional (SPHR, SHRM-SCP, PHRca), managing the HR team overseeing all aspects of Human Resources for both Cityview and its affiliate, Westhome. Her experience spans the spectrum of the HR field, including recruitment, employee relations, performance management, benefits, compliance and employee development. She joined Cityview in summer 2021 from a telecom technology firm in Van Nuys, and previously worked for a private real estate investment and property management company in Beverly Hills. Tina is an LA native and she’s committed to helping grow our vibrant, healthy corporate culture here at Cityview.

Noah Watts-Russell

Director Asset Management
Noah Watts-Russell is Director, Asset Management of Cityview. As Director of Asset Management, he oversees Cityview’s value-add portfolio and is responsible for establishing and driving the portfolio business plans to maximize performance and value. Prior to joining Cityview, Noah was an Associate in the Real Estate division at The Blackstone Group where he oversaw over $15bn in multifamily real estate (>70,000 units, covering market rate, affordable and rent-controlled) and worked on over $2bn in total sales and $1bn in refinancing. Prior to Blackstone, Noah managed the FP&A team at LivCor, Blackstone’s multifamily asset management company. Noah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Economics from Washington University in St. Louis.

Denise Katz

Director Asset Management

Denise Katz manages Cityview’s core and development assets across multiple investment vehicles and is responsible for maximizing the operational and financial performance of the assets.  Denise has over twelve years of experience in real estate. Prior to joining Cityview, Denise was Regional Vice President at CIM Group of a $2.4 billion portfolio in the Western US and Latin American markets. During her time at CIM, she managed end-to-end transitions of development projects, acquisitions, and dispositions of office, multifamily, retail, parking, condominium, and mixed-use projects. She holds a double major Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and Psychology from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Steve Roberts

Director, Development and Construction
Steve Roberts is responsible for the development of several of Cityview’s ground-up multi-family assets, including due diligence, design, entitlement, permitting, construction, and market delivery. Prior to joining Cityview, Steve managed several nationally award-winning projects as Vice President of Development for Community Dynamics, a Santa Monica based developer of residential and mixed-use communities. Steve has built his career on creating exceptional communities that deliver high-quality housing to residents, first-rate design for neighbors and municipalities, as well as strong financial returns to investors. Steve holds a BA in Urban Studies and Planning from UCSD and earned an MBA and Master of Real Estate Development from the University of Southern California.

Anh Le

Director, Development

After 8 years in the construction industry managed complex multi-use development projects, Anh Le joined Cityview in 2018 as Director of Development. Le manages ground-up developments in Northern and Southern California and leads consultant teams through entitlement, design, permitting, budgeting, contracting, construction management and project turnover. She works closely with designers, neighborhood groups and Cityview’s in-house Asset Management team to deliver best-in-class multifamily projects. Prior to Cityview, Le worked as a project engineer and project manager at Cobalt Construction. Le holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Irvine.

Kyle Naye

Senior Director, Acquisitions

Kyle Naye is Senior Director, Acquisitions of Cityview.  As Senior Director of Acquisitions, he is responsible for managing acquisitions, including sourcing, underwriting, closing and developing comprehensive business plans for investors.  Naye primarily focuses on non-California markets across the Western U.S., including Seattle, Portland, Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Dallas, and Austin.  In his role, Naye works closely with the Cityview team to manage and expand strategic acquisitions across the firm’s vertically integrated platform.

Prior to joining Cityview, Naye was a vice president of originations at PGIM Real Estate, where he provided transactions and underwriting oversight for core-plus and high-yield debt vehicles. He also held a prior role at PGIM managing the underwriting, investment committee preparation and closing of $992 million in multifamily, retail and office assets across the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. At earlier stages of his career, Naye was a senior associate of acquisitions at Clarion Partners, senior real estate analyst at Northmarq and an officer in the United States Navy.

Zory Grigoryan

Director, Development

As Director of Development, Zory Grigoryan is responsible for the full cycle development of several of Cityview’s projects, which includes managing the due diligence, underwriting, entitlement, design engineering, construction processes and turnover to asset management. Prior to joining Cityview, Grigoryan worked for Oakmont Capital as a Project Manager overseeing the development and construction of several multifamily projects. Prior to that, he worked at Cobalt Construction as a Project Manager on the construction of numerous mixed use and multifamily projects. During his career, Grigoryan has been responsible for the development, preconstruction and construction of over 1,500 units.

Grigoryan holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Construction Management from the California State University of Northridge, where he was the top ranked graduate of his year. During his time at Cobalt Construction, Grigoryan was also selected as distinguished alumni by the CSUN department faculty and appointed as ambassador for alumni recruitment by CSUN construction management department’s board of governors committee.

Chris Brown

Director, Capital Relations

Chris Brown is responsible for capital raising and investor relations at Cityview. Chris has over seven years of real estate investment and capital raising experience. Prior to joining Cityview, he was a member of the Fund Advisory team at JLL working on equity capital raises for private real estate investment vehicles. Prior to JLL, Chris worked on the Portfolio Management team at Clarion Partners and the Asset Management team at LaSalle Investment Management. Chris graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degrees in Finance and Real Estate. He is a general securities representative.

Dana Gomez-Gayne

Vice President and Associate General Counsel

Dana Gomez-Gayne manages the legal aspects of all project-related matters, including acquisition, development, management and disposition, and advises Cityview on corporate formation and maintenance, insurance, risk management and other legal matters. She was previously an Associate at O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP where she represented a variety of clients in real estate, project development and finance transactions. Gomez-Gayne also has a background in fundraising development and worked at Teach For America raising philanthropic funds from regional and national corporations and foundations. She is a graduate of Pomona College and Pepperdine University School of Law.

Rob Lester

Managing Director, Business Development & Capital Relations
Rob Lester is responsible for business development and capital formation efforts for the Firm’s investment platforms, developing strategic growth initiatives, and creating long-term relationships with investors and partners. He has nearly 25 years of investment banking and private capital formation experience. Prior to joining Cityview, he was Managing Director with Macquarie Capital, and a Managing Principal with Blackstone. ​

Con Howe

Managing Director

Con Howe leads Cityview’s partnerships to finance, assemble and entitle land for development in the greater Los Angeles area. With over 40 years of experience in planning, entitlements and development, he assists all Cityview funds with acquisitions and development strategies. Prior to coming to Cityview he was the Director of Planning for the City of Los Angeles responsible for the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance and zoning to encourage infill housing. Previously he was the Executive Director of the New York City Planning Department.

Shane Robinson


Shane Robinson is responsible for managing all aspects of Cityview’s stabilized, value add and new development assets. With more than 22 years of experience managing multifamily assets, he is a seasoned real estate professional experienced in a range of investment strategies that drive growth and efficiency for investors.

Prior to this role, Shane held pivotal positions at various organizations in the real estate industry. As Vice President of Property Management at Westhome, Robinson played a vital role in implementing the operational infrastructure that facilitated market expansion.

During his tenure at Sunrise Management, his leadership established and solidified the company’s operational foothold in new markets, contributing to the growth and success of the firm. His early asset management career was at GHP Management, where he specialized in lease-ups and effectively managed a substantial core portfolio of over 5,000 units.

Melissa B. Delgado

VP, Asset Management
Melissa Delgado is responsible for overseeing Cityview’s asset management and portfolio operations. Prior to joining Cityview, Melissa was a Senior Director at TruAmerica Multifamily LLC where she was responsible for achieving the investment objectives of an $800 million portfolio. Earlier in her career, Melissa was an asset manager for Kennedy Wilson’s Southern California portfolio. Prior to that, she was a Vice President and Head of Marketing at Kepler Capital Markets, an investment bank in New York. ​

Devang Shah

Managing Director, Acquisitions

Devang Shah is co-head of Cityview’s acquisitions activities on the West Coast. He has 25 years of experience in real estate investment, development, design, construction and asset management. Previously, Devang was the principal of Marketcents Inc., an independent project management firm, serving as an owner’s representative to investment firms, builders and developers. Prior to that, he worked was Vice-President at RCLCo, LLC, a national independent real estate consulting firm. ​

Adam Perry

Senior Vice President, Development and Construction

Adam Perry oversees all aspects of the commercial real estate development process from acquisition due diligence and entitlement processing through design budgeting, contracting, construction management, closeout and turnover. Prior to joining Cityview, Adam worked at CIM group as an Associate Vice President of Development overseeing ground up retail, office and mixed-use developments. ​

Adam holds a BA Degree in Political Science and History from UCLA and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Matthew Falley

General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer
Matt Falley oversees and directs the company’s legal affairs and is the firm’s Chief Compliance Officer. Matt was previously a partner at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, where he represented numerous clients in the real estate industry, including Cityview. Matt holds a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), where he was a member of “California Law Review” and Order of the Coif.​

Tony Cardoza

Managing Director, Acquisitions
Tony Cardoza is responsible for Cityview’s acquisition activities throughout the West Coast. He has 21 years of experience in real estate investment and management. Previously, Tony ran the investment group for Real Estate Capital Partners in the Western U.S., which developed and acquired over 5,000 multifamily units. Prior to that, he worked for Prometheus Real Estate Group in a land and multifamily acquisitions role on the West Coast. Tony holds a B.A. in Economics from Middlebury College and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.​

Jennifer Halvas

Managing Director, Investor Relations
Jennifer Halvas leads the firm’s investor relations team, where she is responsible for maintaining relationships with the investor community, bolstering infrastructure for new and existing investors and helping to develop investment strategies and initiatives. She has been instrumental in securing capital needs for several Cityview funds across a broad base of institutional investors, insurance companies, foundations and endowments, family offices and high-net-worth investors. A 12-year veteran of Cityview, she uses her deep institutional knowledge to create value for investors and the communities in which Cityview works.
She was previously at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where she represented a variety of clients in real estate, project development and finance transactions. Jennifer holds a B.A. with honors from the University of Southern California and a JD from Vanderbilt Law School.

Damian Gancman

Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer

Damian Gancman oversees the operations of Cityview and its investments while supporting the strategic growth of its finance, acquisition, asset management and property management functions. An 18-year veteran of the firm, Damian is also a partner at Cityview and a member of its investment committee. As CFO, he helped build out Cityview’s best-in-class finance department, including the implementation of strategic process, accounting, reporting and technology improvements that enhance the investor experience.

In addition to his role at Cityview, Damian is a guest lecturer for the University of Southern California’s Master of Real Estate Development program and is a key contributor to the Cityview Leadership Academy. Damian earned a master’s degree in real estate development from the University of Southern California and a dual bachelor’s degree in business administration and psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Sean Burton

Chief Executive Officer

Sean Burton has been with Cityview since 2003. Prior to joining Cityview, Sean was vice president of corporate business development and strategy at Warner Bros. Before that, he was an attorney in the real estate and corporate groups at O’Melveny & Myers, LLP and also served in the White House during the Clinton Administration. In 2022, Burton was appointed by President Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the federal nominee on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors, which oversees Washington Dulles and Reagan National airports. He also serves as co-chair of the Los Angeles Coalition, a coalition of business leaders for the economy and jobs in LA. From 2013 to 2021, Sean served as President of the Board of Airport Commissioners which oversees the LAX and Van Nuys airports. Sean holds a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine and a JD from New York University School of Law.