December 3, 2020
Jennifer Halvas was recently named partner at the Los Angeles-based Cityview, a multifamily investment firm.
The coronavirus pandemic has buckled real estate markets throughout the nation, but Jennifer Halvas said she has found the silver lining in the slowdown.
The partner at CityView, a prominent Los Angeles multifamily developer, said her company has used the time to ready the firm for realignment, acquisitions and growth. “It afforded us the opportunity to take advantage of that time to look inward and see where we might want to invest our time and energy,” Halvas told CoStar News.
CityView has either developed or acquired more than 100 projects and focuses on large and emerging markets along the West Coast.
She said the firm considered aspects of its business ranging from its investments and projects to its leadership and company culture. Among the changes, Halvas herself was promoted to partner last month, after serving as senior vice president of operations and general counsel.
“We, along with many other people, are looking at where the opportunities are going to be,” Halvas told CoStar News, noting the strategy is based on the hope that the pandemic draws to a close and investment opportunities begin to crop up.
She spoke with CoStar News about the company’s internal improvements, its investment strategy post-COVID and how the firm is working to be a leader in its diversity initiatives.
Are you exploring new investment markets?
We’re always looking for new markets where we can add value. We have a deep expertise in planning, entitlement and developing in challenging areas with high barriers to entry. We’re constantly evaluating new markets. An unintended benefit of COVID-19 has been that it’s allowed us to look internally.
What are some specific, internal initiatives the company has had the time to implement?
This year, we created a leadership academy, and we’re working with a Harvard Business School professor who does ongoing training with our leadership team and the full company.
I don’t think the real estate industry has always been known for its diversity, or its willingness to change or innovative, and I think that’s started to change a little bit, as of late. We want to be on the forefront of doing that, as evidenced by my company giving me this role.
Our heads of human resources and head of asset management are women. It’s just really nice to see that we’ve had multiple female development execs, because development in real estate is mostly male-dominated. It’s really nice to see that we had a female development executive, like, eight or 10 years ago.
And what kinds of investment opportunities is the firm exploring?
Well, we had a lot of success coming out of the 2008 financial crisis in being able to take advantage of purchasing opportunities. And we, along with many other people, are looking at where the opportunities are going to be. We’re working toward really just being ready to go and prepared for acquisitions.
What concrete changes have you made in order to ready the firm of more acquisitions?
We’ve been hiring. We’ve hired some various folks that are going to be focused on acquisitions. We also hired a new asset manager and hired a new director of acquisitions. We’re taking the opportunity to invest in our workforce.