February 15, 2021

A pandemic, it seems, has some strange effects on investors and calendars. Normally, opportunity zone projects are funded in April and June, said Sean Burton, CEO of Cityview, a Los Angeles, California-based multifamily development firm that is building Adams & Grand, an urban residential and retail project near downtown Los Angeles.
But the arrival of COVID-19 in the U.S. early last year, just as Cityview began raising funds for the project, a conversion of small commercial buildings into one integrated complex, upended the plan.

“We started raising capital for it about a year ago from individual investors, and then things really slowed down when COVID-19 hit,” Burton said. The company is also working on another Opportunity Zone project in the San Francisco Bay area. “In April and May, a lot of investors didn’t know what was going to happen. The market was in the tank, and they didn’t want to commit long-term dollars.”

Created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Opportunity Zones are economic development tool that allows people to invest their capital gains in, and “substantially improve,” distressed areas in the United States in exchange for tax benefits. The tracts to be redeveloped were nominated by the governors of the 50 states, four U.S. territories and the mayor of Washington, D.C. According to the Tax Policy Center, 12% of U.S. Census Tracts are Opportunity Zones (8,762 tracts).

However, the law stipulated that investments had to be made by April 1, 2020. Fortunately, in light of the pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service extended the dates for investment to December 31, 2020.

“Right after the election and as we approached Thanksgiving, people saw there would be a new administration. The stock market was at all-time highs,” Burton said. “They began looking at these new opportunities.”

By year-end, Cityview had raised $125 million from multiple investors, including major regional banks and The Townsend Group, a Cleveland, Ohio-based asset manager, which operates an opportunity zone fund and came in for final piece of Adams & Grand.

Burton was quick to note that most of Cityview’s projects lie outside opportunity zones and utilize traditional institutional capital.
“There’s so much interest in our product. We’ve continued to see robust appetite, even better than a year ago,” Burton said. “People are sitting on stock market gains; they think there’s nowhere to go but down based on lofty valuations.”

Investors in its multifamily developments include pension systems, foundations and endowments, insurance companies and retail investors, such as small high-net-worth individuals. Foreign investment remains solid, including investors from Japan, Korea, Europe and Canada.
“There’s still a lot of capital out there, though returns expectations may have moderated a bit,” Burton said.

Located at 2528 South Grand Avenue, the seven-story, 296-unit project will feature 5,000 square feet of retail space, extensive amenities and two rooftop sky decks offering sweeping views of Downtown Los Angeles. Adams & Grand is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification and will offer 125 studio, 87 one-bedroom and 84 two-bedroom floor plans. Plans call for 25 of the units to be designated very low affordable and three of the units will be designated moderate income affordable. All floor plans will feature stainless-steel appliances, Nest thermostats, vinyl flooring throughout, quartz countertops and in-unit washer-dryers. Some units will feature balconies as well.

Communal amenities will include a CV Works business center, two-story club room, expansive fitness center, movement studio, resort-style pool and spa deck, pet run and wash station, outdoor lounge and two rooftop decks. The community also will offer 390 parking stalls and 332 bike stalls for residents and their guests. Tenants for the retail portion of the project will be carefully curated to fit the lifestyle of residents and complement the surrounding community.

Ground-up construction of the project began in December and is expected to be complete by early 2023. It will be the culmination of several years of effort, Burton noted.
“We’d had our eye on the Adams & Grand parcel and tied it up in 2015,” Burton related. “It was a dilapidated manufacturing site, with some retail on the side. We liked the location near the Expo Line [the light rail line that runs between Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California], its proximity to U.S.C. and six other universities and that it’s just two miles from downtown.”

The company then needed to fully entitle the property, including a zone change and general plan amendment, a real challenge in Los Angeles. The development and investment firm is partnering with builder WPIC Construction LLC, architecture firm Togawa Smith Martin, interior design firm Nadia Geller Designs and structural engineering firm John Labib & Associates on the project.

“Then, the Opportunity Zone legislation passed,” Burton said. “It’s a perfect location, and it’s only going to improve over the next decade.” It’s a good time to invest in multifamily in more traditional projects, as well, even as COVID-19 has ruptured various real estate sectors as people have begun working and schooling, as well as living at home.

Additional Los Angeles area projects from Cityview include 5935 Pico, a 123-unit mixed-use community in Mid-City Los Angeles that recently broke ground; Haven, a $75 million mixed-use community located in Culver City that completed earlier this year and Mira, a 174-unit project located in a qualified opportunity zone in Warner Center that was sold last year pre-temporary certificate of occupancy to an opportunity zone buyer.

“I’ve heard investor concerns — nerves about office building and retail sectors,” Burton observed. “But there’s a fundamental understanding that people still need a place to leave. COVID-19 has helped multifamily. It’s an active debate. With every investor I’ve talked to, we’ve discussed how people are living now.”
He said he isn’t concerned that that people will continue to flee urban areas for the suburbs as they did in the beginning of the pandemic.

“We think cities will continue to be robust. We’ve seen cities like San Francisco and New York hit hard, but cities have been the engine of economic growth since World War II,” Burton said. “Why was Silicon Valley so successful? We had these engineers and software executives that wanted to be in the same place. I don’t think that goes away — especially with a vaccine.”

In Los Angeles, he observed, people — especially Millennials, who miss colleagues, mentorship opportunities and in-office corporate culture — are clamoring to return to the office as soon as conditions permit, though he anticipates that the office won’t look exactly the same. Workers may continue to telecommute 20% of the time.
Even so, Burton remains optimistic.

“We’re pretty bullish on the year, obviously,” Burton said. “A new administration will hopefully change the tenor of rhetoric. I’ll take Joe Biden on his word of reaching across the aisle, and with Democratic control of the Senate, we will see more stimulus and more help to state and local governments.”
Anticipating the return of jobs as the pandemic wanes and the economy improves, Cityview is hiring, adding an asset manager and acquisitions specialist. And he continues to see even more interest from investors than prior to COVID-19.

“People have been cooped up,” he said. “I’ve seen a scenario that there will be a version of the roaring ’20s, and we think it will be a national trend, seeing robust comebacks.”

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.

Chase Ballard

Vice President, Construction Management
Chase Ballard is Vice President of Construction Management at Cityview. He is responsible for overseeing the Construction Management team and their daily operations. Chase and his team are involved in every stage of our value add renovation opportunities, from pre-acquisition through project completion, executing projects that include interior renovations, common area improvements and deferred maintenance. Prior to joining Cityview, Chase was a Director of Capital Projects with Greystar Real Estate Partners.​

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. 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.