It took eight years for Nitin Shah to reposition Richmond, Calif.-based Hillside Motel into Hillside Garden apartments. The main property has long been associated with prostitution and gambling, serving up vice to San Francisco Bay area denizens since it operated as the Stag Inn back in 1910. Even as late as 1999, the property was known as a transient motel where prostitution and drug use were common. "I found out the manager was making $3,000 a month on the side by renting rooms hourly," Shah tells the Contra Costa Times. Remodeling efforts unearthed a secret tunnel leading towards nearby San Pablo Avenue, presumably so patrons could avoid police raids. Shah has since filled in the tunnel. Plus, to make certain the bad vibes of the past were undone, Hindu priests from India were flown in to perform ceremonies that eradicate wandering spirits. At the Oct. 27 grand opening, Shah leased up all 26 units, mostly to UC Berkeley grad students.
Not a Peep
Mum's the word on re-development plans for Times Square's Playpen Theater, one of the few remaining bastions of live "adult entertainment" in an area of Manhattan once renowned as much for its seedy nightlife as its million-dollar Broadway productions. New York City-based Tishman Speyer Realty?which leads a consortium of investors with a stake in the property?has not commented publicly on whether the site is more apt to become an office, retail, hotel, or multifamily site. Still, the company has made significant Big Apple residential moves in the past 16 months, including the $5 billion purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village and the $15.2 billion privatization of residential REIT Archstone-Smith Trust, which has a sizable Manhattan portfolio. An online petition to save the theater as a historic site was unsuccessful, garnering only 150 signatures.
Shirley, N.Y., landlord John Gordon was arrested in October by cops who accused the live-in apartment manager of placing high-tech eavesdropping devices under the kitchen cabinets of two female residents he wanted to evict. "He has a civil eviction process against them," Michael Diffley, a Suffolk County police detective lieutenant, told the Associated Press. "It wasn't going well. He was trying to get information from them in the eviction." Police contend that Gordon bought mini audio transmitters on the Internet and installed them when the women were not at home. Diffley's attorney gave no comment to the AP.
He may have 99 problems, but multifamily development ain't one. Shawn Carter?a.k.a Jay-Z?the Grammy Award-winning rapper and CEO of New York City-based Def Jam Recordings is also an investor in L'Eau Condominiums, a 24-unit luxury development in Philadelphia's posh Northern Liberties neighborhood. Dawanna Williams, a principal heading up the L'Eau project for New York City-based Dabar Development Partners and SCC North American Realty tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that Jay-Z is one of several high net worth individuals invested in the project. The Inquirer noted that Jay-Z isn't the first hip-hop artist to put multifamily money to work in Philly. Will Smith and his brother Harry apparently have condos underway on Spring Garden Street, although the newspaper also notes that there has been no recent construction on the project.
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