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MBEP New Member Spotlight: Novin Development

Novin Development Brings Innovative Solutions

to the Challenges of Making Housing Happen

In the midst of many housing challenges in California, MBEP member Novin Development Corp. is finding solutions. Through its projects across California, Novin Development Corp. (NDC), is helping create a range of multi-family development projects with a double-bottom-line approach centered around social responsibility and environmental sustainability.

The company currently owns and manages 180 apartment units and 76,500 square feet of commercial property, including 23,000 square feet of mixed-use retail from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. NDC has an additional 300 units in the pipeline and its principals have experience with over $9 billion in projects throughout California.

In the case of St. Stephens Senior Housing in Santa Cruz, that meant building strong partnerships between faith leaders, public agencies, and private partners, ultimately resulting in affordable housing for 40 low-income seniors in a thriving community with gardens, recreational activities, support services, and nearby public transportation and medical services.

At MacArthur Station, a mixed-income, transit-oriented development at the MacArthur BART station in Oakland, Novin helped secure entitlements and over $34 million in Prop 1C funding and LEED ND Gold Certification.

By its investment in the historic Pajaro Wall St. Inn, which was transformed into a mixed-use development with multi-family residential units, retail and restaurant use in the heart of Watsonville’s planned “entertainment district.” Novin Development is helping fuel the district’s revitalization.

Costs associated with building in California — and the urgency of the state’s housing shortfall — are pushing the need for innovative technical solutions. “It’s both a cost and a time issue,” said founding principal Iman Novin.

“The need for new housing is at a breaking point in California,” said Novin. “Bringing new housing units may need innovation, new ideas, and practices that have proven success outside of the region. It means rethinking how and where we build homes to create greater efficiency.”

One approach, modular construction, can reduce the time it takes to build from as much as 24 months to just three or four months, he said, with the benefits of better quality control and potential cost savings.

Moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach to parking allotments would also help create housing that serves both its residents and its region: “For infill sites that are taking advantage of great transit, not everybody owns two cars,” said Novin. “Some want to ride their bike or walk. The ownership of cars is also a lot lower in a senior population.”

Not everyone wants, or needs, two parking spots to go with their apartment: Some renters may prefer lower rents in exchange for a smaller place or a single parking stall.

But what about rethinking the actual way we park cars in the first place so that more space can be devoted to housing? When the cost of building a single parking space can exceed $40,000,  it makes sense to look for innovative, technology-driven solutions such as automated parking systems, said Novin.

Rather than conventional parking garages, automated parking systems can park and retrieve vehicles while optimizing space by eliminating vehicle lanes in the primary parking area, allowing for more parked vehicles in less space. Such creative solutions, already in use in Japan and in several Bay Area cities, could help alleviate some of the state’s housing shortfalls by saving space, eliminating the need for new construction, and devoting more space for housing units, said Novin.

Buildings have been constructed in the same way in this country for close to 100 years, said Sam Woodburn, Novin’s development manager. “There’s lots of room for building awareness in new methods
like volumetric modular and prefab,” he said, “and in some ways, catching up to other places.”

Novin Development is currently working with multiple partners to bring much-needed new housing to Santa Cruz, where the site of an aging strip mall could soon be transformed into 151 units of much-needed workforce housing. The 831 Water Street development would feature a range of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments, including units designated as affordable to very-low-income households, in two, five-story mixed-use buildings.

The company also recently submitted a preliminary application for a 40-unit development near Cabrillo College that would bring new housing units for teachers.

Novin, who grew up in Santa Cruz and has tracked MBEP’s progress over the years, said he’s excited to join in those important conversations surrounding housing advocacy, sustainability and best practices. “We’re looking to partner with the community,” said Novin, “and we’re excited to be partnering with MBEP.”

Pictured, an artist’s rendering of Novin Development’s proposed 831 Water Street development.