2012 NAA PARAGON award winners.
Alta Henderson, Dallas Wood Residential Services
"intimate and cozy architecture"
Just minutes from uptown and downtown Dallas, Alta Henderson was already 75 percent leased just three months after it welcomed its first resident earlier this year. The 106-unit community, managed by Wood Residential Services, offers one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 651 square feet to 1,944 square feet. It was designed to feel intimate and cozy, with just three floors and an urban architectural style that is an updated version of the prairie style common in Old East Dallas. Amenities include a 24-hour fitness center with premium equipment, iPod docking stations and touch-screen TVs. The clubroom offers a media lounge and plasma TV, and The Connect Cafe is equipped with computer work stations, Wi-H, printers and fax machines. Energy-saving programmable thermostats and prewired high-speed data/phone cable outlets are standard in each apartment, while 60 percent of homes feature iPod docking stations and ceiling speakers. The community engages residents with frequent Facebook and Twitter contests, regularly tweets with area businesses, offers an instant chat feature on its web-site and produced a community video that was posted on Yelp.
Best Community, Less Than 5 Years, Over 150 units
Alta 1900 Lofts, Dallas Greystar
"five-star urban luxury"
Alta 1900 Lofts, managed by Greystar, is the epitome of urban luxury. This Dallas apartment community appeals to young renters and families alike, with units ranging from 663-square-foot studios to 1,671-square-foot two-bedrooms. Popular community amenities include a coffee bar, 24-hour business center, fitness center, media lounge and game room with billiards and a bar area. The pool courtyard features an underwater speaker system, grilling area and spacious sundeck. Residents can also spend time socializing around the fire pit in the garden courtyard and the outdoor amphitheater, or catch a game on one of the outside deck's flat-panel TVs. A holiday reception and art and architectural night are just some of the many resident events offered at this Class A community. Said one resident, "I LOVE it here. My apartment is perfect, with an awesome view of downtown Dallas. I have access to nearby running and biking trails, as well as wonderful community amenities. The staff in the leasing office is always friendly and they always have a treat for my puppy. I give Alta 1900 Lofts five stars!"
Best Community, 5 to 20 Years, Over 150 units
Mansions at Hemingway, Johnston, Iowa Perry Reid Properties
"safe and social outdoor oasis"
Located in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro area, Mansions at Hemingway consists of 23 buildings and a separate clubhouse that sit on 22 acres of lush landscaping. Each of the 184 townhomes includes a garage and driveway, with a playground, basketball court, dog park, two reflecting ponds and large courtyard in the center of the property for residents to enjoy. Other popular amenities include a heated outdoor pool, 24-hour fitness center with free weekly fitness classes, a tanning bed and a business center. Managed by Perry Reid Properties, Mansions at Hemingway was the first community in Johnston to be certified as part of the Crime Free Multi Housing Program. Each year residents are invited to a crime-free social, where kids can get free ID tags and fingerprinting and DNA kits and adults can attend classes on identity theft and home protection. The community also offers pumpkin painting, a spring egg hunt, a pie cook-off, kids nights, an international potluck and Happy Hour every Friday. Residents and staff participate in an annual food drive and Dress for Success clothing drive.
Best Community, 20+ Years, Under 150 units
26 West, Indianapolis Buckingham Companies
"convenient city-living in Midwest"
In the heart of downtown Indianapolis, 26 West is within walking distance of the city's best restaurants, shops and biking paths. Buckingham Companies took over the 30-unit community in 2010, upgrading the units with features including black or stainless steel appliances, luxury showerheads, restoration of exposed brick walls, upgraded window treatments and upgraded lighting packages. Since 2010, 26 West has had 100 percent occupancy. Originally constructed in 1897 as the Taylor building, the property has since adopted environmentally friendly practices--including compact lighting and water-conserving aerators, flush valves and shower heads--which are a key component of the building's efficiency. Residents are engaged in several community initiatives, most recently by working together to fill six storage totes for a toy drive during the 2011 holidays. "The location is awesome," said one resident. "It is within walking distance of anything you want to do in Indianapolis. You can actually walk from the arts garden and walk indoors all the way into Lucas Oil stadium via the mall and convention center. The staff is very friendly and responsive."
Best Community, 20+ Years, Over 150 units
Camelot Court, Brighton, Mass, First Realty Management
"the best of Beantown"
Among Boston's earliest affordable communities, Camelot Court was constructed in 1968 as a 160-unit development. In 2008, the mortgage reached the end of its 40-year term and the owners opted out of HUD regulations, but used the Enhanced Voucher program to ensure that long-term residents could remain in their homes. The staff adopted new management philosophies and practices, embraced new marketing strategies using the Internet and social media and made sure every dollar spent renovating was paid back in increased occupancy and asset value. A full rebranding effort including a new logo, marketing materials, colors, website and ancillary materials--all aimed at capitalizing on the community's great location and excellent lifestyle being offered. Despite construction during the past three years and the resulting loss of common area access and space, the community maintained an occupancy rate of 96.5 percent in 2008, rising steadily to 100 percent in 2011. The mixed-income community is achieving the highest per-square-foot rents in the Allston-Brighton market area, catering to graduate students and professionals while still taking care of its older residents.
Best Community Specialty Housing Green Housing
Gables Park Plaza. Austin. Texas Gables Residential
"happy and healthy living"
Located in the Lone Star state, Gables Park Plaza is a LEED SILVER-certified community. The apartments include upgraded recyclable-fiber carpet in the bedrooms, solar shades on all windows, rapidly renewable bamboo flooring, energy efficient stainless steel appliances and green lighting packages. The community--which offers dramatic views of downtown Austin and Lady Bird Lake--also features water-conserving shower heads and faucet aerators, CFC-free I VAC refrigerant, water-conserving toilets, an energy efficient light-colored roof, energy efficient double-glazed windows, Energy Star appliances, a roof system with high SRI (solar reflective index), hybrid car electrical outlets in the parking garage, photo cell-light managers on garages and exterior lighting, and a bicycle storage facility. Low VOC paint is used in all apartment homes and rain sensors are used on the irrigation system, which does not require the use of city water/sewer. Approximately 25 percent of the community's building materials were from recycled materials. Management and cleaning staffs use eco-friendly cleaning products. Residents are encouraged to do their part as well, with recycling bins in the pool area and clubroom.
Best Community, Specialty Housing Affordable Housing
Wilber School Apartments. Sharon, Mass. Beacon Residential Management
"historic school revitalized"
The Wilber School, originally built in 1922, sat vacant for more than 25 years in Sharon, Mass. Then in late 2008, construction began to redevelop the building into 75 mixed-income apartments. By January 2010, the first resident moved into Wilber School Apartments, managed by Beacon Residential Management Limited Partnership. The adaptive reuse of this former school revitalized and preserved an iconic structure--every apartment, for example, includes pieces of original Wilber School chalk boards--while also meeting modern energy efficiency and sustainability standards. The development received Gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED for Homes program and is certified by the. EPA as an Energy Star Homes building. Nearly one-third of the apartments have restricted rents, and 10 percent are affordable to residents earning at or below 100 percent of area median income--a "workforce housing" tier not specifically required by any state or federal program. The apartment community brought new life to the town center and has become a significant source of tax revenue for a town that was in great need of affordable housing.
Atlanta Apartment Association
"using technology to boost traffic"
The Atlanta Apartment Association (AM) added a new staff position, Communications & Marketing Manager, in 2011 to help create a similar look and feel for all written and electronic communication and ultimately drive members to the AAA website. AM gave its publication, HABITAT magazine, a makeover and began publishing the content online. Additionally, the association used standard templates for all e-mail communications that were easily recognizable to membership, started an online photo gallery of past events and scheduled all communications from the MA office so that e-mails and faxes were staggered. With a staff member responsible for social media, MA's Facebook, Linkedln and Twitter traffic more than doubled. AAA estimates that more than 90 percent of its members now receive electronic communications. The association also started an online photo gallery, MA FACES, for members to view photos of past events. It was the most visited page on the website in Q4 2011. In 2012, AAA will continue to improve its communications efforts based on results from a series of surveys members filled out regarding their use of MA products and services.
Community Service Award
Bryan-College Station Apartment Association
"saving lives through service"
In 2011, the Bryan-College Station (Texas) Apartment Association partnered with the College Station Fire Department, College Station Police Department and the local chapter of the American Red Cross to conduct a "Mock Fire" at one of its largest apartment communities in the area. The event's purpose was to educate BCSAA's members and residents--many of whom are students--about fire awareness and prevention by simulating a fire and instructing residents how to act accordingly. Attendees were able to ask questions about fire prevention, put out a live fire and learn how to use a fire extinguisher, and filled out contact information forms in the event of an emergency. In addition to the Mock Fire, BCSAA also promoted organ donor awareness and signed up six new donors--potentially saving up to 348 lives. Both campaigns were marketed through public service announcements, weekly e-mails, Facebook posts, fliers and the association website. Local TV station KBTX shot over 45 minutes of video during the event and ran a two-minute segment that evening on the news.
Austin Apartment Association
"enrolled 85 students in designation program"
Although the Austin Apartment Association's designation programs make up more than half of the total revenue for education, only 47 percent of students, on average, complete their designation. To address this problem, MA created The Designation Completion Program. As part of the program, AAA purchased five notebook computers for those who could not take the exam at home, created an online resource center to help students practice for their exam and offered a free Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) review class. The Director of Education also developed a practice exam for each of the designation courses based on the book and skill checks. Additionally, MA created a CAM Community Analysis Mentorship Program that matches CAM graduates with new students to act as a resource. The mentor follows up with the student to make sure he or she is paced to complete the project and offers support when needed. In 2011, 85 participants enrolled in the designation program--15 more than 2010. Ninety-nine participants completed their designation last year, a number that includes designates from previous years. Additionally, revenue increased by nearly $ 10,000 in 2011.
Government Affairs Award
Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia
"taking a stand in Philadelphia"
In 2011, the Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia (AAGP) had the challenge of fighting a bill that was introduced to add superfluous lead-paint disclosure obligations on rental owners. The bill originally targeted every rental owner in the city and required additional certifications that pre-1978 properties are either lead free or lead safe. AAGP worked closely with other real estate groups, forming a coalition and contributing $20,000 to fund a study that demonstrated the serious economic impact the bill would have on Philadelphia's rental community. Additionally, AAGP and the members of the coalition were able to organize meetings with particular City Council members, bringing hundreds of members to crucial meetings and garnering the attention--and coverage--of local news channels. As a result of AAGP's efforts, the final bill includes several amendments, one of which excludes several types of specialty housing. The bill's sponsors were also persuaded to increase the time for which a lead-safe certification would be valid and to drop the requirement that inspections must be performed by third parties.
Membership Development Award
Atlanta Apartment Association
"welcoming 357 new members"
The Atlanta Apartment Association used an innovative approach for its 2011 membership drive, as 150 volunteers were divided into nine teams that competed against each other in renewals and recruitment. As a result, MA recruited 357 new members--a 43 percent increase of its 2011 goal. Additionally, the membership department achieved a 74 percent renewal rate for vendor members, and an overall membership renewal rate of 88.3 percent, collecting more than $1 million in dues and sponsorships for the year--more than 22 times what they spent on the membership campaign. The AAA Welcoming committee was assigned a list of new members each month to personally call and welcome to the association. Each new member was also invited to an MA 101 Class and a New Member Reception. Also of note, a new, Web-based member-management system enabled members to register for events, pay invoices, search for members and view photos from AAA functions online. To reward its volunteers, MA established a Volunteer of the Week, Team MVP Award and Team Player of the Year, and threw an end-of-campaign Payday Party.
Association Executive of the Year Mark Williams
Apartment Association of Metro Denver
"helped quadruple association revenue"
In 1999, Mark Williams became the Executive Vice President of the Apartment Association of Metro Denver (AAMD). Since joining AAMD, Williams has helped to steady membership growth and retention to reach levels of over 155,000 units, quadruple the annual AAMD revenue to more than $2.3 million in 2012, develop a community outreach and charity program--including financial contributions to Family Homestead of more than $35,000 in 2012 and more than $75,000 in the last three years, improve AANID's reputation within the marketplace and further develop the Government Affairs department, which successfully raised over $ 100,000 for the 2010 Colorado Election. Under Williams' leadership, the AAMD Government Affairs team also worked to successfully defeat harmful rent control legislation and modified proposed Warranty of Habitability legislation to acceptable law. This year, membership levels and retention have exceeded the association's aggressive 2012 goals by better than 3 percent and association event revenue has exceeded Membership as the leading revenue source. In addition to Williams' responsibilities with AAMD, he also became the concurrent Executive Vice President of the Colorado Apartment Association in 2005.
Certified Apartment Manager of the Year
Sandra Fick, NALP. CAM Charlotte, N.C.
"creating new resident retention programs"
After a 14-year career as a public school teacher in Ohio, Sandra Fick, NALP, CAM, and her family relocated to Charlotte, N.C., where they rented an apartment. She took a position in the community's leasing office shortly thereafter and has worked at five communities in the decade since. In November 2010, she led a team in opening a 248-unit community in South Carolina at the height of the economic recession and leased 93 percent of its units within 10 months. She has been instrumental in creating new programs for her residents, including a recycling program and a pilot program with Duke Energy to move the 306 units at one community from incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent ones, saving residents money on electric bills. She also initiated quarterly North Charlotte Community Watch meetings for area apartment managers with the help of the local police department. Now the Community Manager of Charter Properties' Long Creek Club Apartments, Fick combines her love of teaching and knowledge of the apartment industry to play a vital role in recruiting residents arid inspiring team members.
Certified Apartment Maintenance Technician of the Year
Lazarus Luna, CAMT Worcester, Mass.
"boosting curb appeal and community"
As a maintenance superintendent for an apartment community in Worcester, Mass, Lazarus "Ali" Luna, CAMT, takes great pride in his work. Luna started working at WinnResidential's 180-unit community in 1985 as a security officer before moving up to the position of maintenance mechanic. In 1993, he was promoted to his current position, overseeing two mechanics and four contract cleaners. This year, his team has already repainted the exteriors of four of the community's buildings and replaced the entry doors to five of the community's 11 buildings. Luna also plans to replace 15 kitchens, one roof, repair six parking lots, repaint an additional three buildings and install an irrigation system. He was recognized by WinnResidential with landscaping awards for five consecutive years, taking home first place in three of those years. Luna is active in the community and was one of the first volunteers for WinnResidential's team that helped rebuild a home for a needy family. He also participates in the community's annual National Night Out. His supervisors credit him with taking L "ownership" of his property to make it the best it can be.
National Apartment Leasing Professional of the Year
Johanna Llorente, NALP Austin, Texas
"led community to 95 percent occupancy"
Johanna Llorente, NALP, began her career in 2004, working at several prominent apartment management companies before she was hired as a leasing consultant for Gables Pressler, operated by Gables Residential, in June 2010. In just 15 months, she was promoted to assistant manager of the downtown Austin community. During that time, Llorente consistently maintained an above average closing ratio of 38 percent for June 2010 through December 2010 and averaged five leases a month in 2011 at a 168-unit property. She also was responsible for all renewals for the community in 2011. Because of her leadership, the property maintained an average occupancy rate of 95 percent. In 2011, the Austin Apartment Association (AM) named her Leasing Professional of the Year. Llorente also received the 2012 Texas Apartment Association Anita Marcino Leasing Professional of the Year award. In addition to her work with the AM, Llorente has been active in the community with the Boys & Girls Club, Austin Area Fire Relief and the Doc and Gayle Young Food Drive. She will soon start teaching MA leasing courses.
Professional Designate of the Year
Tracy. Williams, ARM, CAM, CAPS Jacksonville, Fla.
"overcame highest vacancy submarket"
In 2011, WRH Realty Services Regional Manager Tracy Williams, ARM, CAM, CAPS, led her team to success. Her portfolio of Florida and Georgia communities received nearly half of the annual awards given by the company, earning first and second place awards for lowest turnover, most improved rental income, highest rental income and lowest controllable expense--despite overseeing units in the "highest vacancy submarket" in the United States. WRH recognized her leadership by naming her as its Regional Manager of the Year in 2009 and the First Coast Apartment Association (FCAA) named her as its Regional Manager of the Year in 2007 and 2010. Her involvement with FCAA spans more than a decade, including eight years as a member of its board of directors. In 2010, she was elected president, and she has since remained active as past president and now as acting chair of the association's legislative committee. A graduate of NAAEI's Advanced Instructor Training, Williams teaches Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) and National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP) professional designation courses for the association, as well as FCAA seminars and workshops.
National Suppliers Council (NSC) Achievement Award Tony Sculthorpe, Coinmach Corp.
Orlando, Fla. "supporting the apartment industry"
Tony Sculthorpe entered the apartment industry in Miami in the mid-1990s as a supplier of outsourced commercial laundry services and laundry equipment sales and leasing. After joining the Coinmach Service Corporation (CSC) family of companies in 1998, he was quickly promoted to lead the national sales team at CSC's Appliance Warehouse division. He is now a Senior Vice President for CSC. Always a supporter of local apartment associations, Sculthorpe has served on committees and provided leadership and support for many affiliates. In more recent years, he has served on several National Apartment Association (NM) and NM Education Institute (NAAEI) committees and task force groups. As a Certified Apartment Supplier (CAS), NM Lyceum graduate and trainer for the Supplier Success program, Sculthorpe continues to provide leadership both inside and outside of his organization. "As a dedicated husband and father of four, I certainly have many things to be grateful for--and. I'm honored to have received this great recognition from my peers," he says.
Independent Rental Owner of the Year 101-500 Units
Bradley J. Sumrok Arlington, Texas
"renovated a distressed community"
Bradley J. Sumrok purchased Pioneer Creek Townhomes in 2010, when the 213-unit community was in a severe state of distress. With less than 70 percent occupancy, the Arlington, Texas, community had leaking roofs, the original HVAC system and appliances, bleak interiors, poor amenities, unresponsive management, unruly residents and a bad reputation. Immediately after takeover, Sumrok brought in new management and staff and began a $1.3 million renovation. The renovation included a new parking lot, roofs, HVAC system, appliances, interior upgrades, a complete reconstruction of the office--including a resident computer center and DVI) library, energy-efficient window screens, new exterior doors, new signage, improved resident amenities, golf carts for staff and residents, landscaping and energy conservation. By July 2011--six months after purchase--the renovation was complete and the community reached 90 percent occupancy. Since then, Pioneer Creek Townhomes has experienced up to 95 percent occupancy and raised rents by over $50 per unit. All investor expectations were exceeded, including a year one cash-on-cash return of 15 percent. Most importantly, residents now have a safe place to call home.