An Interview with Paul Keller, Chairman of Mack Real Estate Development LLC
By Vanja Deretic and Zachary Streit, 2018 GROW Mentees
On a beautiful Southern California morning in late October, around 30 ULI WLI Grow mentees and their two mentors had the amazing opportunity to tour Mack Real Estate Development’s latest apartment community, AVEN, in the South Park neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles. The two cohorts met for the first time since the kick-off evening to enjoy the towering structure which is nearing construction completion and currently pre-leasing. The 38-story tower boasts incredible views and amenities that appeal to modern day urban living, concentrating on creating a community rather than isolated living.
“The thesis of our investment strategy is to provide high quality homes that are affordable. We are not going after the luxury renter,” Paul Keller, Chairman of Mack Real Estate Development, said in an interview for this article.
The focus on high-quality living spaces that are affordable coupled with better public spaces is part of Mack Real Estate Development’s best practices called “Thoughtful Living.” This philosophy is the cornerstone of every Mack development, including their South Park assets. Starting with WREN, a community only two blocks away from AVEN, Mr. Keller and his team have found success utilizing this formula. WREN exceeded leasing velocity expectations, and the hope is to repeat that feat at AVEN.
AVEN’s warm inviting spaces, designed to encourage community building and neighborhood interaction, include a fitness center – a necessity in Southern California – as well as a roof deck business center, pool, beach volleyball and basketball half-court, several barbeque areas and a dog run. The second roof deck, accessible to all residents, sits near the top of the building and offers a Zen rock garden and reflection area with space for local artists to display their work and sweeping views of the city, far from the bustling streets.
The most outstanding and perhaps unique component of AVEN is the adjacent public/private park that will complete construction shortly after the tower opens. In a unique move Mr. Keller hopes to see repeated, the Mack team chose not to maximize their footprint and utilize all of their buildable space for apartment units. Rather, they made the bold decision to open a part of their development to the public in the form of an on-site park.
“I wish other private developers would provide more open parks,” Mr. Keller said. “Los Angeles has a horrible ranking when it comes to park areas in our Central Business District. In a context of our portfolio, we made a conscious effort to build a park to round out our whole portfolio. It’s good for the community, submarket and neighborhood – a clean, safe space for people to relax and enjoy Southern California.”
This remarkable foresight to provide an outstanding service for the community is what makes this development so special. Engaging residents in the area in design charrettes and listening sessions to fully understand the community’s needs is part of the reason Mack Real Estate Development feels that AVEN will perform well and become an integral part of the fabric of the city.
One of Mack’s major competitive advantages is their long term hold strategy. They are not merchant builders, but rather anchors in local communities that utilize what they learn with each subsequent development to improve and adjust.
“We are a vertically integrated development company,” Mr. Keller elaborated. “Between our design, construction and management, we feel with our knowledge we can hold our own and deliver a great product.”
Given the success of WREN and now AVEN, the outlook for both the South Park Community and Mack Real Estate Development appears bright. We look forward to witnessing continued growth in the South Park Community and to Mack’s continued success in their ever evolving and successful quest for “Thoughtful Living.”