Tipping Fees

A New Jersey property management company has threatened "civil obedience" and says it will comply with court rulings compelling it to have residents at Rustic Village Community in Clayton, N.J., pile their garbage on the side of the road rather than in community dumpsters. According to Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Manhattan Management Co., the borough of Clayton refuses to access dumpsters at the 164-unit apartment community and also will not reimburse the property manager for private trash removal. The alternative is to pile the trash street-side, which Manhattan Management's managing member Harvey Berk says is unsightly, unsanitary, and has resulted in threats of arrest from local police for illegal dumping. The company filed suit in State Supreme Court to overturn prevailing rulings on the matter by a state appellate court.

According to a Manhattan Management cost analysis, picking up bulk trash from dumpsters would cost the borough half as much compared to clearing individual cans off the road. Town officials apparently were not arithmetically impressed. Nor was a state appellate court, which said the borough was not required to enter private property for the purpose of picking up trash. "Not required, but not prevented, either," Berk says. "There is a lower cost, higher-value, civically enlightened option available to Clayton that the judiciary should not ignore as it considers the application of the law, and we think the State Supreme Court will agree. And if not, we'll expand today's initial obedience."

High-Rise Reality TV

Construction workers topping off New West Realty's 1555 Wabash condo tower at the end of September had some unique guests: a film crew from the DIY Channel's Project Xtreme TV show, which profiles some of the most dangerous and specialized construction sites in the country. "The producers contacted us about a year ago and wanted to know when we'd be topping off," explains New West executive vice president of construction J.P. Sanavaitis. "They were looking for a job site in a high-rise environment, and since the topping off of 1555 Wabash would be 140 feet in the air, it fit the bill."

Sanavaitis says the 1555 Wabash episode of Project Xtreme, which is scheduled to air next spring, will be a telling glimpse into the project's magnitude, which often required more than 100 workers on-site every day. Pouring one floor every week, the building required 13,000 cubic yards of concrete and 1,000 tons of reinforcing steel at a cost of $10 million. Located at the corner of Wabash Avenue and 16th Street in downtown Chicago, the 14-story 1555 Wabash will include 176 condos ranging in size from 767 square feet to 1,486 square feet. Residences are priced from the $200,000s to the low $600,000s. Move-ins for the building are have been targeted for late November or early December, enabling New West to throw a viewing party when the Project Xtreme episode airs. "I think they're going to get a big kick out of having their building on national TV," Sanavaitis says. "It's like a badge of honor."

Project Xtreme host Matt Blashaw jokes with contractors during the topping out of 1555 Wabash, a 14-story condo building in Chicago developed by New West Realty. Photo: New West Realty Legal Objection

A California attorney who was denied a rental on the basis that he was a lawyer might just have himself a case. The lawyer, who wrote into the Los Angeles Times' "Rent it Right" landlord and resident relations advice column, claims that despite excellent credit and references, a property manager declined his rental application because she has historically found lawyers to be "hard to deal with."

That's known legally as an "arbitrary decision," since it applies to a category of renters and is based solely on professional status, rather than the personal characteristics of any particular renter, answers Janet Portman for the Times. While federal fair housing laws provide protection from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, sex, and disability, the protections do not extend to arbitrary decisions. However, some states?including California?do provide such an extension, Portman says, so the attorney (apparently not a real estate law practitioner) likely has a docket-able dispute.

Editor's note[end ital]: Send your offbeat multifamily news leads to cwood@hanleywood.com .