Back in the Fold The condo craze has come full circle. Equity Residential, a REIT based in Chicago, bought back one of its properties, The Prime in Arlington, Va., and is on the verge of buying another property in New York from condo converters. “The assets were acquired [by others] with the intention of converting, but they decided to abort that mission,” says David J. Neithercut, Equity Residential's president and CEO. “In each of these instances, not a single unit had been sold.” —L.S.
Fresh Air A new Seattle public housing community offers a breath of fresh air—literally. High Point, Seattle Housing Authority's transformation of a former military worker site into affordable housing, will feature 35 units dubbed as “Breathe Easy Homes.” The units, geared toward asthmatic residents, feature moisture-proof foundations, high-quality ventilation systems, low-emission paint, and formaldehyde-free cabinets. To help minimize dust, residents are given mattress covers and high-efficiency vacuum cleaners. Plus, the University of Washington's School of Public Health will monitor the health of the children. —R.Z.A.
Help for Veterans One apartment complex is St. Louis is going beyond just giving lip service to helping veterans. The Pavilion Apartments, owned by Palisades Financial, gives veterans as much as half off their rent in the first six months of a one-year lease. From six to 12 months, they get a 20 percent break, and after a year, they get a smaller percentage off. —L.S.
Affordable Stock Everyone knows it's hard to add affordable housing stock in America's big cities. Chicago is trying a new tack: Turning former drug dens into affordable housing. The city wants to “improve our neighborhoods by removing blighted buildings and restoring them as affordable housing,” according to Mayor Richard M. Daley. —L.S.
Drum Roll, Please And the most improved award goes to ... the Philadelphia Housing Authority. The Housing Authority Insurance Group, a national firm serving public housing authorities, has honored PHA as its most improved authority for its decline in insurance claims. PHA has reduced the number of personal injury and property claims from 105 per 1,000 units in 2002 to 35 per 1,000 in 2004. PHA attributes the low claim rate to enhanced landscaping, an aggressive property maintenance program, and its new, high-quality product. —R.Z.A.
Hidden Asset Need a new tactic to ward off fierce NIMBYists? Just pass along this fact: On average, single-family homes located near multifamily communities actually appreciated at a higher rate than homes without multifamily neighbors, according to NAHB's analysis of the 2005 American Housing Survey data. There is some indication of slightly reduced appreciation rates close to the time the multifamily housing is first built. —R.Z.A.
Source: 2005 American Housing Survey, U.S. Census Bureau and HUD
Executive Feedback Q & A What is your favorite question to ask a potential employee during an interview?
A: “‘Where did you grow up, and how did that impact where you are and what you are doing today?' I ask this question to get deeper into a person's background and values rather than focus solely on business experience and credentials.”—Bob Landis, president, Lane Management
A: “‘When you're not working or looking for a job, how do you spend your free time?' I want to get to know the potential employee as a person. Who they are as a person will educate me about how they will be as an employee. ... I look for depth of character. My experience has led me to believe that people with depth make better employees and are more satisfied with their jobs.”—Julie Blank, director of asset management, Alliance Residential Co.