As Catholic Schools Week comes to a close, Chaminade College Preparatory recognizes Gary Simons ’77 as its 2015 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.
An exemplary alumnus, Simons served on the school’s Board of Directors from 2008 to 2014. During his tenure, Simons chaired the physical facilities committee, and sat on the ad hoc building committee, the executive committee, and presidential search committee. Currently, he is a member of committees of land acquisition, physical facilities, and finance.
Simons is also a generous philanthropic supporter of his alma mater and was instrumental in the Tutor Family Center for the Performing Arts project, as well as with the current middle school renovation and expansion projects.
After graduating from Chaminade, Simons attended California State University, Northridge. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1982 with a degree in business administration with specialties in real estate and finance. Simons began his career in the construction industry, starting as a laborer in high school, becoming a skilled carpenter while working through college, and moving to a project manager position for a Westside estate builder after graduation. Planning a career in income property development, he joined the Hanes Company, a commercial real estate brokerage and investment firm, in 1985. After the Hanes Company, Simons went on to acquire and develop numerous properties throughout Los Angeles within his development and acquisitions entity, Projects West Corporation.
Founded in 1992, Projects West Construction has built an organization with broad experience and ability in all aspects of general contracting, construction management and real estate development. A licensed general contractor with 30 years experience in the construction and development business, Simons has overseen construction of more than 1,500 new apartment units and reconstructed over 1,000 more after the Northridge earthquake. In addition, his company has completed numerous commercial projects including retail shell and core, restaurants, surgical facilities and all types of tenant improvements. In total, he has completed in excess of 3 million square feet of apartment and commercial construction.
In 1996, Simons began a partnership with a former employee, Sean Baker. This new company, Upside Investments, Inc., went on to acquire and develop numerous apartment, retail and office properties, mainly throughout the greater Los Angeles area, but also in other states. Upside currently owns more than 1,000 apartment units and approximately 500,000 square feet of retail and office space.
Simons and his wife Gilena have two children, who both attend Chaminade, Graydon ’19 and Elodie ’20.