Jun. 1, 2021

Buzz: An atmosphere of excitement and activity.

Now, more than in a long time, young American professionals are on the move — driven from their fixed positions in major U.S. cities, and no longer tethered to their physical places of employment.

Yes, it’s one of the symptoms of the coronavirus pandemic, but more accurately the pandemic has accelerated changes in the job market that have been trending for a couple of decades, especially among members of the so-called knowledge economy (people who work with information in its various forms can pretty much work from anywhere that has a dependable internet connection).

Given freedom of movement, where do young knowledge-economy professionals go? You probably can rattle off at least some of the names of cities that are creating buzz these days: Austin, Boise, Charlotte, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Phoenix, Nashville, Raleigh and Salt Lake City, among others.

Increasingly, it seems, rather than strictly following relocating to cities with strong employment opportunities, young professionals are choosing markets based on cultural and quality-of-life issues, and then seeking employment — and employers are following the migrations. Indeed, while professionals used to follow employers to jobs, employers appear increasingly willing to follow employees to hot, new markets. Witness the decision by AllianceBernstein to uproot its New York City headquarters for a move to Nashville. Yes, the global asset management firm saved bundles of cash on taxes and real estate costs with the move, but would it ever have considered Nashville if not for the steady torrent of Americans flooding into the city and surrounding areas? The company will invest more than $70 million in the city as part of the relocation of its more than 1,000 headquarters employees, and plans to finish the transition from Manhattan to Nashville by 2022.

Mitch Faccio, vice president of acquisitions at MLG Capital, cites Austin as a sterling example of a buzz city, noting the city’s population has grown 30 percent between 2010 and 2019, making it one of the fastest growing U.S. cities, according to Census Bureau statistics.

“That equates to approximately 510,000 new residents over nine years — or 155 new residents a day,” says Faccio. “In addition, in that same amount of time, Austin has seen 466 new businesses relocate to the city. A lot has contributed to this insane growth, but the point is that the city is attracting businesses and people alike.”

What do Austin, Nashville and other buzz cities have in common?

Max Sharkansky, managing partner at Trion Properties, calls them emerging markets generating a significant amount of investor interest, real estate development and in-migration caused by shifting demographic or economic factors.

Adam Segal, CEO of Cove, a company that integrates technology in buildings, calls buzz cities destinations that draw people seeking a more holistic approach to modern living — which can take many forms, though the key is a place where people want to be to not only work but live and “experience the entire ecosystem.”

Sean Burton, CEO of Cityview, a multifamily and mixed-use development firm, adds: “Our definition of a buzz city is one poised for, or experiencing, outsized growth because of its strong underlying market fundamentals. Strong demand driven by population growth, employment growth, income growth, rent growth and other key drivers are critical. We focus on areas with prosperous job centers fueling economic growth that attract employees and renters. Prior to the pandemic, markets in the western half of the U.S., such as Seattle, Portland, Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Austin, Los Angeles and the Bay Area were all experiencing population, employment and income growth more than 35 percent above the national average and we expect these markets to see a more rapid and robust recovery coming out of the pandemic.”

More specifically, the essential components that make a city buzz, in Faccio’s estimation, include a friendly business climate, affordability relative to incomes, thriving local customs and culture, urban planning devoted to long-term growth and sustainability, access to airports and public transportation, and a strong school system and higher education opportunities.

Zack Streit, senior vice president at George Smith Partners, adds a favorable tax structure and a high quality of life, ranging from warm weather and outdoor activities to the availability of professional sports teams.

Segal reasons that there is no required list of buzz-city components; rather any city can brand itself in ways to align with the qualities it has to offer, such as a thriving art, food and music scene.

Indeed, Charlotte, home to the Charlotte Hornets, an NBA franchise, features a Buzz City decal on the center of the team’s home basketball court. Charlotte is also an example of a city that doesn’t boast a major university but touts the No. 2 banking market in the United States and a booming real estate market.

It is agreed that real estate is far and away the most investable asset class in fast-growing buzz cities, and multifamily housing is chief among the property types, though industrial and retail have a strong place in any growth market.

“As up-and-coming markets, these cities offer a wealth of value-add multifamily opportunities that add to their investment appeal because they are positioned for strong ROI,” says Sharkansky. “Investors who know how to elevate apartment communities to meet the demands of today’s demographics while staying aligned with the market’s appeal should profit.”

Demographically, buzz cities are rife with young families, educated professionals and quality-of-life characteristics that appeal to that group, Streit asserts.

Faccio explains that “psychographics” play an interesting role in creating a buzz city and its culture.

“It is far less quantitative than demographics, but the nuances can make or break a city,” he says. “One of the most important qualities here would be an entrepreneurial mindset, with a focus on long-term growth.”

Adds Sharkansky: “Younger demographic groups are drawn to buzz cities because of rising career opportunities and growth. Similarly, baby boomers also tend to like the pace, affordability and lifestyle.”

Naturally, there are many strong U.S. metropolises that have fallen short of being buzz-worthy, many of which have many of the requisite characteristics. One might think in terms of Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Tucson. Chicago, despite its history and culture and top-tier credentials, has been losing population for decades. How do otherwise formidable cities create some bona-fide buzz?

Faccio says they could start by embracing change. “One of the biggest market disruptors we are seeing in the country right now is technology,” he observes. “Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, social media, self-driving cars, virtual grocery shopping and virtual reality are just a few. Buzz cites recognize that technology is going to continue to develop, and they need to find ways to capitalize on those new developments to improve the urban quality of life. Whether it be making daily commutes faster, tracking and restructuring energy shortfalls, or streamlining government systems, the result will be a city that will attract businesses and people alike.”

Another critical component cited by Faccio is to excite others with local culture and the urban character. “A buzz city knows how to differentiate itself and that makes people want to move there or visit,” he remarks. “If you look at some of the world’s most famous cities — London, New York, Rome, Dubai, Paris — it is clear they are special in their own right. It would be pretty lackluster to fly across the country just to land in a city that feels like the one you just left.”

As Segal puts it: “Create a great product and a great experience and people will find their way there. This is across the board from culture, infrastructure and quality of life. This often starts with investment from the local government to ensure the right pieces are in place for the private sector to build upon.”

Segal believes the past 14 months have unlocked a new opportunity for cities to brand themselves and become destinations for remote workers and modern companies looking to open satellite offices.

“The more a city considers this in their branding,” he says, “the better likelihood they will be able to create buzz.”

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.