Please Pass the Grey Poupon

High Falutin’: Rich accoutrements and antique regalia await the next renter at 436 West 20th Street for a mere $20,000 a month.
Luxury Lofts and Homes High Falutin’: Rich accoutrements and antique regalia await the next renter at 436 West 20th Street for a mere $20,000 a month.

OK, so it just barely musters up to the five-unit multifamily threshold, but what it doesn’t have in apartment count, 436 West 20th Street makes up for in over-the-top opulence. Nearing the end of a 20-month historic restoration, the building’s ownership team at Luxury Lofts and Homes is offering five apartments with 14- to 17-foot ceilings, at least two fireplaces, 1920s Baccarat chandeliers, skylights, custom upholstery, and antique pieces by the George Smith furniture company, as well as the services of a house butler, who, among other things, will hand-deliver mail, arrange entrance for the housekeeper, make dinner reservations, massages, and be available to light the mansion’s fireplaces. Rents for available units check in at $20,000 per month. But of course.

Not So Magic Kingdom

The rights to build a podium project with as many as 400 residential units across the street from Disneyland went on the auction block this month after two successive rounds of developers failed to bring a project out of the ground at GardenWalk, an outdoor retail mall adjacent to the iconic theme park in Anaheim, Calif. The Walt Disney Co. regularly objected to development at the site but withdrew its opposition after developers acquiesced to changes in signage, parking, and traffic routes. The post-9/11 economic downturn, as well as the recession-plagued successive development teams, has left the site unfinished beyond its ground-floor parking structure. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, development rights were previously listed for sale at $37 million and bids from hotel owners, timeshare developers, and investors were falling in the range of $22 million to $25 million.


A lot of people have been calling Seattle the last-to-go-in, last-to-come-out apartment submarket of the recession—and a quick look at Jet City concessions bears that moniker out. In a recent article for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, reporter Vanessa Ho noted lease-up giveaways that include discounted metro passes, annual Costco and Zipcar memberships, and free iPods and flat-screen TVs, all in addition to concessions of two to three months in rents. Asking rents for one-bedroom units in the city have already fallen to $800 from a high of $1,000 two years ago, further exacerbating effective rental rates in Seattle. “It’s a great market for the renter; it’s a lousy market for the developer or investor,” Mike Scott of the regional apartment research firm Dupre + Scott told Seattle PI. “The last time we had so little development was 50 years ago. We went through a horrendous recession in the early ’70s called the Boeing Bust and still had more development then.” At least there’s plenty of coffee to keep those leasing offices burning the midnight oil.

Super Sniffer

Sure, Puxatawney, Pa., has Phil the famous groundhog, but on March 15, all eyes in the Keystone State—OK, in Harrisburg, at least—were trained on Heidi the English Beagle, who visited the state capitol to help the pest control lobby bring greater attention to the scourge of bed bugs infesting hotels, condos, apartment buildings, movie theaters, and now, even bus seats nationwide. Heidi is one of only a handful of dogs in the country specially trained to sniff out bed bugs, a feat she accomplishes with 95 percent accuracy, according to Martin Overline, one of her handlers and the president of Aardvark Pest Management in Philadelphia. “Every place is subject to [bed bugs], from the White House to the outhouse,” Overline tells Kari Andren of the Patriot-News. “It doesn't matter who you are or where you live.” Joining Heidi and Overline at the capitol was Ehrlich Pest Control district manager Keith Hamilton, who told the Patriot-News that Pennsylvania will soon need to enact a law defining responsibility for infesting rental properties to resolve the blame game that usually ensues between landlords and tenants over infestations and remediation. 

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