Ielen Sarkisian is the President at Strategic Development Advisors (SDA), a boutique development firm located in Pasadena, California. After a successful career at CB Richard Ellis, Ielen cofounded SDA with her colleague Hamo Rostamian. They were responsible for bringing Target to Southern California. Strategic Development Advisors combines brokerage, investment, and development with a focus on the shopping centers, resulting in a multifaceted platform that produces tangible results across the entire real estate industry.
Mrs. Sarkisian graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising with an emphasis in Store Planning and Design. Her education and upbringing contributed to her most poignant quality: attention to detail. Whether she is designing a drive-through pad or a retail center with over thirty tenants, Ielen demands perfection. This obsession is most obvious during her meetings with potential tenants. As a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, Mrs. Sarkisian presents viable sites to a multitude of tenants at the annual conference. She is required to know each tenant profile, including their current sites, location of competitors, and preferences in the development phase. Mrs. Sarkisian’s mastery has granted her firm unprecedented success in Southern California.
One of Ielen’s most successful development projects to date is “High Desert Gateway”, located in Hesperia, California. The 57.2 acre lot sits on the 1-15 Freeway, providing excellent visibility in an established trade area that continues to grow. The center is anchored by a Super Target, and also includes Ross, Marshall’s, and 24 Hour Fitness. The due diligence and research that accompanies such a large scale project is an exciting component for Ielen and the entire SDA team. At the beginning of the acquisition period, Mrs. Sarkisian put together a demographic profile for surrounding citizens and created a map of the trade area for each potential tenant. A local competitor in a close radius is enough to derail the entire development.
Once the preliminary research is complete, the SDA team projects rental income, building expenses, including soft costs and hard costs, and other factors in a proforma that provides a score based on profitability. The proforma acts as the final say on the project. Once the property is acquired and entitlements are settled, development begins. Simultaneously, Ielen organizes leasing agreements with tenants. Ideally, before construction starts, much of the project is already leased, which offers more security and reduces risk for the project.
Although Strategic Development Advisors is a smaller firm, their relentless effort across brokerage, investment, and development has solidified their presence in the real estate industry throughout Southern California. SDA offers internship opportunities throughout the academic year and the summer. Working at Strategic Development Advisors is the perfect opportunity for students seeking a thorough introduction into all aspects of real estate coupled with a welcoming environment that allows for ownership over one’s work. Each week, interns have the opportunity to participate in meetings with the Broker and Mrs. Sarkisian. With the right opportunity, SDA could very well invest in a project than an intern sources.
Mrs. Sarkisian is a passionate, unfaltering leader who takes pride in all aspects of her job. She instills her admirable qualities into everyone she meets. Ielen and the entire SDA team possess a tangible fervor for real estate; an attribute at the heart of their work.