David Guettler Photography


Elevé’s entry level contains common areas including a fitness center, conference room, business office, and mixed-use space currently leased by a restaurant. Below ground, a garage is equipped for an electric charging station and bike storage. But most of the interior is devoted to 208 units, ranging from studios to two-bedrooms, with energy-efficient features. To show how to furnish a small space, Laguna Hills, Calif.–based designer Karla Brockington decorated a model. Monthly rents run from $1,500 to $2,800.


In deciding what residential product would be most appealing, AMF hit the books and found there was a void in housing for 24- to 34-year-olds. Research further revealed that this age group wanted rental rather than for-sale housing, with an urban vibe. The Gen Yers would also, the data found, spend $50 to $200 more a month to live alone; wanted to be allowed to bring pets; and sought access to common areas for socializing—even if it meant giving up individual-unit square footage.


In 2006, Glendale, Calif., rezoned its downtown with a plan that included incentives for developers to build urban housing. The city also created an arts and entertainment district. The structure of both the plan and the district include flexible regulations to make it easier for developers to invest. When a site with a shuttered Circuit City store and parking became available in 2009, AMF Development, part of American Multifamily, a design/build firm in Huntington Beach, purchased it for $7 million.


Since the building opened on May 1, 55 leases have been signed, and the developer is awaiting LEED Silver certification, an effort helped in part by the location, which earned a Walk Score of 98. The entire area is flourishing, with a strong job base, public transit, libraries, and more. “We give each developer a case planner, who helps navigate any red tape. As a result, Glendale is becoming an 18-hour city,” says Philip ­Lanzafame, the city’s director of economic development.


Because AMF acts as its own architect and developer, it designed the Elevé as a six-story stucco-and-brick building measuring 170,000 square feet. Lacking outdoor land, the developer took advantage of the 26,000-square-foot roof area, transforming the entire surface into various hubs, including a movie zone (pictured), a kitchen, barbecue area, fire pits, tech bar, 10 cabanas with power outlets, hot and cool spas, poet’s corner with piano, and a fenced pet park with bathing station.