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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Valley Developer Makes L.A. Buy

California Home Builders, which has two Q buildings open and three more on the way at Warner Center, has expanded its Q brand beyond the Valley to include an apartment community near Playa Vista.

The Canoga Park-based developer acquired a Class A, 376-unit residential complex that was previously called Modera West LA for $231 million in July. Since the acquisition, California Home Builders has revamped the property — changing the name to the Q Playa — and has begun adding all of the Q amenities and services it offers at its San Fernando Valley sites.

The original Q buildings are at Warner Center, where the Q Variel, a 245-unit residence, has been open for almost two years, and the Q Topanga, with 347 units, which debuted 10 months ago. The Q De Soto – 376 units currently under construction – will open in the middle of 2025. Q Erwin – with 260 units – will break ground next year, while Q Califa – with 210 units – will begin construction in 2025.

All of the Q buildings share a host of amenities including a 24/7 concierge, complimentary valet parking, a Tesla with a driver, bicycles, a resort-style pool with cabanas, fitness and yoga facilities with classes and a pet spa with an in-house groomer.

The site near Playa Vista represents a departure for California Home Builders.

“Typically, we build our properties,” said California Home Builders President Shawn Evenhaim, the company’s founder. “We wanted to expand the brand on the Westside, and (acquiring an existing property) was the quickest way to do it. It had everything we wanted that we could take and transform into a Q property.”

Those traits included that it was newer construction, completed in 2019, and it was built with quality in mind. 

“The location was very attractive, it’s close to the beach, and it’s right next to Playa Vista,” Evenhaim said.


Q Playa’s pool area. (Photo by Thomas Wasper)

The common spaces met Evenhaim’s Q criteria. California Home Builders is currently upgrading furnishings for the common places, landscaping, changing colors and design and adding electric vehicle charging stations. 

“The tenants are already feeling some of the features of the Q community,” Evenhaim said. “The improvements are going in without interrupting the lives of the tenants living in the building.”

There is even a Q app.

“We run all community stuff through there,” said Edan Evenhaim,  California Home Builders’ director of brand marketing and Shawn’s son.  “On there you can see upcoming events, partnerships. We have a bulletin board where residents can communicate”

The entire process of converting the Modera West L.A. into a Q site will take between eight and 12 months.

“It’s an apartment building and we want to convert it into a community,” Shawn Evenhaim said. “A lot of the things that happen are not really improvements to the structure of the property, it’s more social and community-building activities. Those were already implemented.”

So far there have been two happy hours. In October, there will be a Q anniversary event with a DJ and catered food. There is also gym programming four times a week and an upgraded gaming area with ping pong and a pool. 

“It’s part of our desire to transform the living experience of apartment residents,” Shawn Evenhaim said. “We want to give them a lifestyle that will exceed their expectations.”

Evenhaim said the first happy hour had 100 tenants in attendance.

Spending big

California Home Builders’ Shawn Evenhaim (left) and Edan Evenhaim at the Q Playa. (Photo by Thomas Wasper)

Evenhaim feels that the extra investment he is putting into the property will be worthwhile for his tenants.

“A lot of real estate companies look at the bottom line and how to minimize expenses,” Evenhaim said. “We’re looking at how the tenants want to live, how can we make their lives better and how we can make them feel that they are part of a community and not just renting an apartment building.”

Evenhaim said that the building’s transformation into a Q-branded residence did not necessitate raising rents on current tenants.

“We’re not planning any specific increases right now,” he said. “There are just standard increases to meet market rates and inflation and the cost of operation.”

Rents at the Q Playa range from $2,665 to $6,358. Evenhaim declined to state how much the conversion into a Q property will cost his firm.

“The improvements that we are making are on deferred maintenance and introducing the Q quality and the Q amenities,” Evenhaim said. “Tenants will feel the difference but it does not require any major renovations.”

Evenhaim may even create Q brands outside of L.A. County and is open to acquiring more properties to turn into Q residences at an organic pace.

“This is a family-owned business,” Evenhaim said. “We do everything in-house. We take a project, we entitle it, we design it, we build it and we operate it. We don’t have investors, we don’t have partners…we don’t have to get approvals from anyone.”

Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk is a managing editor at the Los Angeles Business Journal and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. She previously covered real estate for the Los Angeles Business Journal. She has done work with publications including The Orange County Register, The Real Deal and doityourself.com.

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