This week: multifamily tales that span the distance between hard time and party time.

Big House Marketing

A five-year stint in federal prison did little to mar the image of former Providence, R.I., mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci among locals. Cianci has been hired by Providence's Paolino Properties and The Athena Group to help market The 903 Residences, a luxury condominium complex where Cianci lived for 50 days this summer during the home confinement portion of his 2002 sentence for conspiracy. On Sept. 17, the ownership group unveiled marketing posters that feature Cianci's mug above the slogan, "They even treat you like a mayor." Cianci is renting a 1,200-square-foot unit in the complex for $1,850 per month; the unit lacks the granite solid surfacing and ceramic tile found in the for-sale units, reports the Providence Journal. Still, the digs are a marked improvement from his accommodations at New Jersey's Fort Dix penitentiary. "The 903 is a hell of a lot better than where I lived in New Jersey," Cianci told the Providence Journal during a poolside interview as part of the launch of the marketing campaign. "It's kind of a hip community."

Needling Applicants

Denying a lease based on the color of an applicant's skin will instantly land you in fair housing hot water, but what about passing on an applicant because of the colors on their skin? In San Antonio, tattooed applicants have alleged discrimination after being denied a lease at the Villas at Medical Center apartment complex. Property owner Ed Frankel told San Antonio NBC affiliate WOAI News 4 that his complexes reject prospective tenants who have tattoos exposed on the neck, head, hands, and wrists, or those whose tattoos cover more than 40 percent of the lower or upper arm. "We do not discriminate," Frankel wrote in his email. "The [policy] applies to persons of any race, color, gender, etc." San Antonio fair housing experts agree. "Refusing to rent to somebody because they have tattoos may be unfair, but it's not discrimination under the Fair Housing Act unless the tattoos are specific to the person's religion or national origin," Sandy Tamez of the San Antonio Fair Housing Council told WOAI. That translates to double tough luck for inked applicants: In addition to having little recourse for being turned away, Frankel is also keeping his $70 non-refundable application fee.

Cali Contradiction

Increases in the jobless rate-traditionally a harbinger of worsening multifamily business metrics-is having absolutely zero effect among property managers in Orange County, Calif. As the slowdown in new home sales boosts demand for rentals, many apartment communities are adding managers to the payroll. In fact, even as the county's unemployment rate rose to 4.2 percent in August 2007 from 3.6 percent a year earlier, the number of payroll jobs in real estate increased by 1,100, or 0.9 percent, according to data released in September by the California Employment Development Department. An Orange County Register review of federal data from 2001 to 2006 additionally shows that the number of people employed in residential property management rose from 7,991 to 9,941 in the O.C. during those years.

Miami Nice

From Super Bowl XLI to the MTV Video Music Awards to the Latin Grammy Awards, Miami has become the "in" spot for star-studded events and their raucous after-parties. In response to complaints from locals about beachfront properties being rented out for such revelry, city officials have prohibited the renting out of single-family homes for periods of less than 6 months. Now, Miami Beach-based Villazzo, a provider of services to the stars, is challenging that statute, which has been in place since 2000. The firm claims that the law violates the right of property owners. Although the suit only applies to single-family properties, it could have a ripple effect on the ability of Miami condo owners to lease their units into the shadow market, where they compete with traditional multifamily product.

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