Developer Connections - First Quarter - 2017

Developer Connections - First Quarter - 2017

Your partners in development

"Our goal is the seamless and successful completion of development projects, because when development succeeds, we all succeed."

In early 2016 SMUD formed the Commercial Development team as a resource for our major developer customers in the planning, coordination and connection of their project to our grid. We are your go-to-utility partner vital in the pre, mid and post development of your project.

Our energy experts will assist you in navigating the energy landscape through all phases of planning and construction and will coordinate all the touch points within SMUD. We will also serve as your liaison to facilitate integration with other utility services.

SMUD's Online tool for developers and contractors

Nearly 2 years ago, SMUD introduced its "Developer Project Application Portal."

This on-line tool provides user-friendly information on how to connect to SMUD's electrical system and gives you the ability to submit a new electric service application, track the status of existing jobs, make interconnection payments to SMUD for your project and share this information with your contractors and members of your project development team.

Questions? Contact SMUD's Design & Construction Services unit at 1-916-732-5700, or chat with your Commercial Development representative for more details.

To find out how SMUD can help your business, visit, or call 1-877-622-SMUD (7683). To locate your dedicated strategic account advisor, email us at

Developers of Sacramento

In recognition of March being Women's History Month, we sat down with a few local women in development to learn about their experiences in the industry.

Nikky Mohanna
Principal, Mohanna Development

About Nikky
"I was born and raised in Sacramento until moving away for college and grad school. I went to UC Berkeley for my Bachelor's in Political Economy, and then the London School of Economics for my Master's degree.

I returned to Sacramento from London and Tehran 2 years ago.

Although I knew I would ultimately be drawn to real estate in the future, I knew the fundamentals of making sound business decisions are found in economics. I was fascinated by the differences in international economies led by policy, and studying the relationship between policies and economic growth. My studies have helped greatly in how I view real estate development and the ability to address our housing crisis and growing income inequality."

Inspiration and vision
"I have been involved in real estate since childhood, with fond memories of touring through properties and development sites with my father every weekend as I was growing up. The first real estate principle my father taught me was: ‘Location. Location. Location.' And I started reciting that since I was 4 years old.

Growing up in downtown, I always had an appreciation for the history of urban living that was such a vital part of our city. And now, I have the unique opportunity to be a part of building that history back into the fabric of our urban core. It's not about profit when I look at a project; it's more about what I'm going to do with the project that will make an impact on the community. I call it social impact development. As a developer you get to build what your city will look like. It's something we need to not take for granted.

The lack of urban housing affordability for my own generation led me to design my first project. I was already immersed in the world of real estate investment and acquisition, but I felt that development has a direct ability to affect positive change. After living in urban hubs in Europe and the Middle East, I realized that many cities in the U.S. are lacking access to the most simple and sustainable forms of urban living that I had grown to love. I wanted to provide a lifestyle of minimalism in the heart of the urban grid throughout my projects, from a perspective of both affordability as well as philosophy."

Biggest challenge/success
"Doing the untraditional in a very traditional industry. It is always a challenge to break boundaries with rigid standards in place. Being in the capital of California, a state that is leading in innovation, I believe that our real estate developments must also embody those innovations. Despite the challenges, I am committed to pushing the envelope to create sustainable developments that provide a new attainable way of living, one that is cost-conscious and eco-conscious.

My main goal in the development industry is to merge profitability with making a social impact. The pursuit of "social impact development" drives me to push the boundaries in a traditional industry. As we prioritize urban revitalization, we must be cognizant that a city is only viable when the workforce can afford to live and work in the same proximity. My goal for the next 2 years is to focus on building attainable, urban housing that meets the needs of my own generation."

Current Project(s)
"I am currently working on three mixed-use projects in the urban grid, with a focus on urban housing for our young workforce throughout all. One that I'll be breaking ground on this spring is 19J in midtown, an 11-story, 175 unit mixed-use project that will provide "small and smart" units for the millennial workforce population. The other two projects are residential/hotel developments in the heart of downtown, which I am in the planning stages on and will be entitling in the coming months.

I'm very excited about a partnership that I'm building with Women's Empowerment, a local non-profit (that I am a board member of), at my 19J project. Women's Empowerment has helped over 1,400 homeless women in the Sacramento region obtain jobs and get their confidence back through mentorship and job training. The 19J project will be providing a transitional program for Women's Empowerment graduates that will provide job training and employment as property managers, and provide housing at the same time. I look forward to implementing this program throughout my future projects to show the direct and indirect benefits of social impact development."

Nikky's advice to women entering the field of development
"Never underestimate yourself, don't be afraid to be bold and break traditional boundaries."

Rachel & Katherine Bardis
Partners and Co-Founders, Bardis Homes

About Rachel
"I was born and raised in Sacramento. I went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and then to Saint Mary's College in Moraga. I studied business – double major business and economics with an honors concentration in Finance. I chose it because I really love studying business, success drivers, evaluating opportunities and risks, etc. I worked in SF San Francisco after college for a year, then came back to start my career in real estate in Sacramento in 1999."

Inspiration and vision
"I was definitely intrigued by the development that our family has done in the region for over 50 years. I never thought that I would go into the industry but after getting a small taste of it early on in my career, I fell in love with the constant challenge of the environment, the relationships I had made, and the opportunity to be a part of building wonderful additions to our burgeoning community.

I started in property management initially with income producing properties that were operating in the red. I was able to turn them around within a short time period. After a year of doing this I was given the opportunity from my Uncle, Chis Bardis, to work on a land project that was at the tentative map stage. It was my first introduction into civil engineering, land development and eventually, homebuilding – from start to finish. It was an incredible learning curve and very challenging but I loved every step of the process! I haven't turned back since.

Any new project comes with several items that must be considered to know if it is feasible for us from a building and construction standpoint. The main goal at the end of our analysis is that we want every project we do to have a positive impact in our community and it is received well."

Biggest challenge/success
"The very first project I worked on would be my most significant challenge due to several factors. I was challenged to learn about civil engineering; was able to work with all departments in the County of Sacramento to process the civil plans; learned about tree mitigation in a massive way; learned hands-on with land development, MMRP's, BMP's with each process; Joint Trench design, all the way through to completed lots.

During land development I had to prepare plans for master plan processing working with our soils engineer for pad specifications, architect for plan development, structural engineer and energy consultant. Once the plans were submitted I had to bid the plans with our trade partners (which I had to create since we did not have a master list). I joined the BIA to develop a list of trade partners to start with initially. After the plans were in the process of bidding I had to then start to develop a sales program.

I was able to work with an experienced sales agent who helped to develop the processes that were would utilize once sales began. I worked with the Department of Real Estate to process the Sales Agreements and white report for sales to begin. I also worked with the existing HOA on annexations and phasing (as a result had to be on the HOA board). I then also had to study the financials of the whole project to see where it would start in pricing and based on the various phases of construction releases, where we would end. I am sure I am leaving out at least 50% of the other items but basically the short is that I have never been more challenged to figure out so much in such a short time period in my life. This without question I feel is my greatest accomplishment and most significant one in my career."

The biggest industry challenges, trying to keep up with the constantly tightening constraints in building a home, code updates, 2020 net zero home looming, and the lack of products to really help to get us there in a cost effective way. Labor shortages in our marketplace. The cost of permits and regulations that make building homes less and less attainable. Every builder in our market WANTS to build affordable homes for our community, we just are challenged by the several outside factors that challenge the ability for us to be able to deliver it."

Rachel's advice to women entering the field of development
"This is the same advice I give to anyone in any industry... whatever you do, do it with passion and relentless desire to do it with all your might! Don't half step – get out there and own it!"

About Katherine
"I was born in Sacramento. My family moved to the Pebble Beach-Monterey area when I was 6 years old. I moved back to Sacramento in 2010 to attend McGeorge School of Law, focusing on land use and water law. Growing up in a family full of developers, I naturally gravitated to the land use classes. Water law always has and continues to fascinate me, especially coming from Southern California."

Inspiration and vision
"I actually never wanted to go into the development industry and was pretty set on moving forward with some sort of law related career. But as opportunity presented itself, I had the unique option to work simultaneously in the development and law fields. After a few months of working the two jobs, I naturally gravitated to the development industry.

I love development because it is one of the few industries where you can see actual, tangible results over the years. It is incredibly rewarding to see an unused, vacant piece of land turn into a whole community.

Unhappy with a number of new home communities I had toured, I saw a need for change in the industry and an untapped "millennial" demographic. Rachel and I started Bardis Homes with the idea of trying to do something different. Deliver cool, quality homes at an obtainable price. We started out with a few single family homes in the Pocket area and then grew into larger projects such as The Mill and The Good Project. We grew relatively quickly in just two years. We started with 4 homes in 2013 and ended with over 100 homes in 2015-2016.

With each project I ask – what can we do that is different? How can we set ourselves apart and create a community that people will buy into? A home is quite possibly the biggest purchase anyone makes in their lifetime, so we find it important to approach each project with a great amount of thought as if we were going to live there ourselves. At the end of the day, I want to walk through each community and think "wow it would be really fun to live here.

Biggest challenge/success 
"Because it is an older industry, with a lot of great traditions, change and new ideas are sometimes met with opposition right from the beginning. Sometimes even the littlest things take a while to get going because of so many decision makers initially meeting any change with initial opposition.

There are also a number of different decision makers within the development field so just because one person or agency says yes, doesn't mean the rest of the agencies or organizations will. It truly takes a village to get each project up and running."

Current Project(s)
"The Mill at Broadway – Sacramento, CA on 3rd & Broadway.

Bardis Homes is currently building the first couple hundred homes within the community. The Mill at Broadway is a great creative project that definitely took a village to get up and going. We are so grateful to be involved with a project that has the ability to completely transform an area and create a unique community.

The Good Project – West Sacramento CA by 5th & B Street.

This project has a special place in our heart. It is in the "Washington District" by the "I" Street bridge, a truly up and coming neighborhood with a lot of potential."

Katherine's advice to women entering the field of development
"Women naturally have a lot of self-doubt so I always say if you are going to do something, get rid of that little voice that says "I can't" and go through with what you want 100%, don't look back and be true to yourself."

Kaitlin Murchison
Vice President – Development & Construction, Heller Pacific

About Kaitlin
"I am from Sacramento; I grew up primarily in Carmichael. I currently live in San Francisco, where I settled after college, and travel to Sacramento during the week for work. We are planning to move back to the Sacramento area soon, on the lookout for places now!

I attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and majored in Construction Management. I spent my first two years as a Biology major, headed in the pre-med direction. After a year of Chemistry, I decided it really wasn't where I wanted to be. I started taking business classes, thinking I would shift in that direction when a friend of mine who was in Construction Management told me to stop by the department and talk to an advisor, obviously knowing me better than I knew myself at the time. I followed his advice and, a couple weeks later, enrolled in the support courses to begin the major change process."

Inspiration and vision
"Both my parents, as well as other members of my family, are in the construction industry but I never took a particular interest in it growing up (chalk it up to my rebellious nature). Needless to say, lots of conversations around the dinner table over the holidays tend to end up about construction and lots of sympathy to my brother who chose another career path and is surely always bored of our trade talk.

Before joining Heller Pacific I worked for DPR Construction, a commercial general contractor, in a career I really enjoyed. I worked on many challenging and exciting projects around the Bay Area, learning and growing, but as I started looking down the road at what my career path might be I couldn't help but wonder what other sectors of the industry might interest me. Around that time, Mike (Heller) was in search of someone to bring on board to run the Ice Blocks projects in Midtown, which had just started construction, and reached out to me after receiving my information from a mutual acquaintance.

While I wasn't looking to make a career change at the time, the projects sounded interesting so we decided to meet up to talk about our shared passion for building cool things. Leaving our meeting, I couldn't shake the feeling that these projects, their role in the growing Sacramento urban environment and the exciting progress Sacramento was making was something I wanted to be a part of so, two months later, I made the shift to the development industry and joined Mike's team.

It is easy to feel passionate about a career like development because you can see the fruits of your labor coming to life daily and it is all the more exciting and motivating when you have a chance to be a part of such talented teams who share that passion. Walking or driving past buildings I have spent years working on, reflecting on the challenges that felt so daunting at the time, remembering how they were overcome, is a powerful feeling. I feel just as proud of the smallest projects I have been a part of as the ones that were high profile or were highly acclaimed, every project has its unique challenges and there is a sense of accomplishment, or at the least, significant lessons learned, every time."

Kaitlin's advice to women entering the field of development
"Trust your own judgment, don't be afraid to take chances and don't be afraid to ask questions. It might feel embarrassing or scary but after being embarrassed or failing enough times you realize it's the fastest path to learning and developing your own judgment and too much pride can be a pretty inhibiting characteristic. Be supportive, not competitive and make sure you are enjoying it."

Current Project(s)
I am currently working on the Ice Blocks projects in Midtown Sacramento. It is a 3 block development on R Street between 16th and 18th, consisting of retail, residential and office spaces. The first of the three blocks was completed last October, the second will be complete this summer and the third will be finish in early 2018. Between the three blocks we have almost 50,000 SF of retail space, over 100,000 SF of office space and 142 residential units. The historic R Street corridor already has a lot of character and offers great restaurant and entertainment options in Midtown but the size, personality and thoughtfulness of what the Ice Blocks are bringing to the area is going to make it an even better destination. It has been an exciting process watching the projects progress and continues to be so as great tenants are coming on board.

We're listening. Give us your opinion

In February, your SMUD Commercial Development team launched its maiden "Developer Satisfaction Survey."  The intent of this brief, but critically important, annual survey, is to gather your feedback on how SMUD's Commercial Development team is serving you, our developer-customers, and how we can better serve you moving forward.

If you took the survey, thank you! Your input is essential as we keep improving as your trusted and valued partner.

If you have questions, call 1-916-732-5448 or email us at We'll share a summary of the 2017 Developer Satisfaction Survey in our next newsletter.

Save the date: Safety Workshop for Developers

SMUD has designed a new safety workshop with our developer customers in mind. The workshop will be held at SMUD's Customer Service Center on the morning of Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at 7:30 AM. Mark your calendars and watch for more details in your inbox.