Saki Middleton, president of John Stanley, a real estate development, and investment management company, named the business in honor of his father, who sadly passed away while Middleton was in still in college.
He attended the University of Arizona on an athletic scholarship and studied architecture and urban planning.
Middleton then moved from studying architecture to Urban Planning and received a B.S. in Regional Development.
“While in school, is where I first got my toes wet, so to speak, in real estate development,” said Middleton. “But it wasn’t until I was in the master’s program in urban and regional planning at Cal Poly Pomona that I was introduced to affordable housing.”
Middleton’s most recent development project is a public-private partnership with the Southside Church of Christ, and Innovative Housing Opportunities (IHO).
It is named, “Serenity,” and it is a mixed-use 50-unit affordable rental property in Los Angeles with thirty-six units dedicated to homeless seniors.
Serenity will be located on the former parking lot of the Southside Church of Christ on Manchester Avenue and is just under an acre.
The project is a mixed-use project. In addition to residential, Middleton also says there will be a commercial component on the ground floor, innovative retailers like healthy food grocers, and new locally based innovative businesses related to tech.
According to Middleton, the total sum of retail space will be approximately seventeen-hundred square feet of ground-floor office and commercial space, and roughly six-hundred square feet each.
Middleton dreamed of a project like this since his early years growing up in the Bellflower and Long Beach areas of Southern California. Although his family never lived in affordable housing, he had many friends from his neighborhood that did.
“I never understood why affordable and public housing had to look so sterile. People need nice amenities and outdoor spaces to live and thrive,” said Middleton.
Amenities for the seniors at Serenity will include a third-level outdoor courtyard that includes a BBQ area, sitting areas, and 1,500 square feet of indoor community space that includes a lounge, kitchen, flex room, and computer/classroom. The project also has a fourth-floor gym, a third-floor laundry facility, and parking for the residents.
The partnership with Southside Church of Christ was not Middleton’s first-time teaming with a faith-based organization to create this type of project. He has several throughout the country.
“The concept of partnering with churches actually came during my urban planning program at Cal Poly. My thesis was based on developing affordable housing with churches, a blueprint to develop real estate, and partner with churches who were nucleus to the community,” said Middleton.
Middleton’s plan also involved church’s that had available land in which to house the developments. “The church would always be a true partner and true codeveloper, not just an entity who sold the land to a developer, but a true partner in every capacity,” said Middleton.
He met Chris Bacchus, son of Southside Church of Christ minister Dr. Carl C. Bacchus back in 2006. “Chris and his father talked about developing a large parking lot that was almost an acre, and they felt it could be utilized by putting housing on it,” said Middleton.
When Proposition HHH passed Middleton, Chris and Dr. Bacchus saw it as “an opportunity to develop some homeless housing.” Proposition HHH is a $1.2 billion bond measure provided for the funding and infrastructure necessary to end and prevent chronic homelessness in Los Angeles.
They then found a third partner with homeless housing experience, Rochelle Mills, President and CEO of Innovative Housing Opportunities. IMO would not be a development partner but would provide the much-needed oversight with the social services component.
John Stanley would take the lead on “design, planning and securing the financing while the church provides the land. Mills’ expertise running homeless housing will prove vital to the success of Serenity,” said Middleton.
On September 19, 2022, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for Serenity at the site, and construction is projected to be complete by late 2022.