Turning the Beat Around

A multifamily development group is hoping it can help Cambridge, Mass., dance to a different beat. The locally based McKinnon Co. and Waltham, Mass.-based Criterion Development Partners are seeking feedback from city planers, community groups, and environmental agencies as they prepare a final proposal to redevelop the site of long-shuttered Faces Disco?the Boston metro's answer to New York's Studio 54?into a 240-unit apartment complex. McKinnon Co. president Richard McKinnon tells The Boston Globe that addressing environmental sensitivity and flooding issues are a top priority at the development site, which sits adjacent to the Alewife Reservation, a protected wetlands and outdoor recreation area. To minimize concerns of traffic congestion, the development team is also proposing a lighted path to a nearby rail station and regional bike paths. "[We're] not looking to push any limits," McKinnon tells the Globe, adding that the developers would like to submit a formal proposal by late October. "I'm very much looking to have this project under construction during the second quarter of 2009."

Say What?

If the phrase "Ehn, your mother's a lawn chair..." makes no sense, it's time to check out the winners of ForRent.com's latest viral video contest, which received more than 59,000 unique visitors and more than 251,000 page views, according to Google Analytics. The challenge for renters this time around? Create a short video explaining why they should win the $10,000 grand prize through the eyes, ears, and voice of their furniture. Brendan Walsh, a 20-year old student from Steubenville, Ohio, majoring in digital media production at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh took top honors in the contest for his film, "Furniture Talk," a stop-motion and live-action comedy about two guys and the four couches that live with them. In addition to hosting the video on ForRent.com, Walsh created a Facebook user group for his submission to add even more view counts and votes. "Social media is my life," Walsh said of his winning entry. "It's like a chain reaction. I tell 10 people, they tell 10 people, and it spirals." Norfolk, Va.-based ForRent.com partnered with New York City-based technology firm Virtue to help power the contest platform and enable features such as user profiles and a syndication tool that allowed for easy distribution of videos to popular social networking sites, including MySpace, Facebook, and Friendster. In addition to the $25,000 award, the top 10 finalists received iPod Shuffles. "Furniture Talk" and all of the other winning videos can be viewed here.

Digs by Donatella

Hoping to one-up super luxury Manhattan condo towers such as The Plaza and Central Park West, the development team behind the conversion of the former MetLife headquarters at 5 Madison Avenue into the Clock Tower Building has enlisted Donatella Versace to oversee interior design of the units, common areas, and dining amenities of its 55-unit project. Although Versace previously designed units at the Plaza, Rotem Rosen, U.S. CEO for Yahud, Israel-based Africa Israel Investments, tells the New York Observer that Clock Tower will take things to another level. "This is totally different," Rosen said. "There are only 55 units [compared to the Plaza's 181]. Our clientele is different, too. The clientele will be top celebrities. I cannot tell you the names we have already gotten calls from ... but you can imagine how many celebrities will want to live in this building." If you can't imagine, Rosen added that Donatella and her daughter will be living at the Clock, and that the development team originally connected with the design diva via Madonna. According to the Observer, Versace declined to comment on the design concept for the property since it has not yet been finalized.

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