Sunday, March 16, 2014

TODAY'S DEALS: SARES-REGIS Acquires San Jose Apartments

<Deal Nowp>San Jose, Calif.-SARES-REIGS Multifamily Fund has completed its sixth acquisition with the purchase of Alterra, a 143-unit apartment community in San Jose, Calif. The 5.1-acre gated community at 1640 La Rossa Circle was built in 1988. It is near the Almaden Expressway, Highway 87 and less than one mile from the VTA, Santa Clara's light rail system, and Caltrain.

"Alterra offers a solid value-add opportunity to renovate and reposition the property so it competes with neighboring communities while capitalizing on the region's significant employment and rental growth," says Kenneth Gladstein, Co-Chief Investment Officer of the SARES-REGIS Multifamily Fund. "Alterra is our third acquisition in California since we formed the fund last year."

Although the previous owner completed significant exterior and common-area renovation, the apartment interiors are original, Gladstein says. The value-add program for Alterra includes upgrading of kitchen cabinets, countertops, stainless appliances, flooring, lighting and plumbing fixtures.

"Once completed, the newly renovated apartment homes will offer residents a value alternative to brand-new product coming into the market," Gladstein adds.

The Fund was launched in 2013 by SARES-REGIS Group with more than $100 million in equity commitments, giving it the ability to acquire more than $300 million in assets.

Kiser Group brokers $28.9M Chicago sale

Chicago-Kiser Group represented the seller of an eight-building, 236-unit portfolio of apartment and mixed-use properties on Chicago's North Side. New York-based Pioneer Acquisitions purchased the portfolio for $28.9 million in a sale that closed March 5, 2014.

Family owned for more than 60 years, the portfolio included an apartment building in West Rogers Park; an apartment building and mixed-use retail and apartment property in Lincoln Square; four properties in Ravenswood; and a mixed-use retail and apartment building in Irving Park.

"This rare opportunity attracted several investors," says Lee Kiser, principal of Kiser Group. He and Michael D'Agostino, managing director of Kiser Group, represented the seller in the transaction. "It's an enormous portfolio in a strong location with upside potential.

"Many of the units are rented at below-market levels, so the buyer could immediately reap additional income by increasing rents," Kiser adds. "Also, with some minor renovations, many of the large one-bedroom units could easily be converted into two-bedroom apartments, further adding value and increasing the portfolio's annual income."

The seller regularly made upgrades throughout the past six decades, so the buildings have little to no deferred maintenance. All the buildings include coin-operated washers and dryers, private storage lockers, intercom security and secure bicycle areas.

"These high-quality apartments are located in sought-after neighborhoods on Chicago's North Side," D'Agostino said. "Also, the large rooms, high ceilings, hardwood floors and irreplaceable vintage architectural details made this portfolio enticing to buyers."

The eight-building portfolio included the following properties.

West Rogers Park

    -7434-38 N. Artesian / 2432-34 W. Fargo is a corner 12-unit apartment building located immediately south of the Evanston border. It consists entirely of one-bedroom, one-bath units. The property also has a two-car garage.

Lincoln Square

  • 4621-25 N. Lincoln / 2259-63 W. Eastwood is a mixed-use building that includes four retail spaces fronting busy Lincoln Avenue and 25 apartments. Long-term commercial tenants occupy three of these units. The apartment mix includes seven one-bedroom, one-bath units; and 18 studios.
  • 2243-51 W. Eastwood, a 16-unit apartment building located just off Lincoln Avenue, is a vintage walk-up consisting entirely of one-bedroom, one-bath apartments.


  • 2104-24 W. Foster (40 units) sits across from Winnemac Park and includes two 20-unit buildings consisting entirely of one-bedroom, one-bath apartments. The property also offers 15 parking spaces.
  • 5073-75 N. Wolcott / 1825-31 W. Winona (16 units) is a vintage walk-up consisting of 13 one- and three two-bedroom apartments, each with one bath. It has newer porches and windows.
  • 2100-12 W. Ainslie / 4904-10 N. Hoyne (46 units) is a vintage courtyard building one block south of Winnemac Park and within walking distance of the Ravenswood Metra Station and the Brown Line 'L' stop at Damen Avenue. It includes 12 studios, 28 one- and six two-bedroom units, each with one bath.
  • 4915-19 N. Damen (21 units) is an L-shaped walk-up consisting of 16 one- and three two-bedroom units, each with one bath, and 1,000 square feet of retail currently occupied by two commercial tenants. It is also close to the Metra Station and the Brown Line 'L' stop, as well as a short walk to the new Mariano's.

Irving Park

    4101-13 N. Kedzie / 3148-56 W. Belle Plaine (56 units) is a mixed-use courtyard building consisting of three studios, 47 one-bedroom, one-bath units and approximately 3,600 square feet of retail space currently occupied by six commercial tenants. The property is convenient to the Kennedy Expressway.
NorCal apartment portfolio changes hands

Redwood City, Calif.-A 112-unit portfolio on the San Francisco Peninsula in Redwood City, Calif., has traded hands for $23.2 million, or $207,142 per unit. Marcus & Millichap represented the seller, Interstate Equities Corp., in the five-property transaction. The buyer was a private investor in a 1031 exchange.

"The continued creation of high-paying jobs in Silicon Valley is reshaping the San Mateo County apartment market and creating new opportunities for both large institutional investors and smaller private investors," says Adam Levin, a vice president of investments at Marcus & Millichap. "Favorable market conditions in Redwood City allowed us to assemble this portfolio of 1960s-era apartment complexes and for IEC to successfully implement its renovation, stabilization and repositioning strategy."

Levin worked alongside Robert Johnston, a senior associate, in closing the deal. Both are based in the firm's Palo Alto office.

The properties are:

  • 152 Lincoln Ave., 18 units
  • 180 Buckingham Ave., 48 units
  • 755 9th Ave., 8 units
  • 775 9th Ave., 8 units
  • 1331 Jefferson Ave., 30 units


Friday, March 14, 2014

Garland accuses former fire administrators of cheating on tests

Two former Garland Fire Department administrators accused of cheating on Review exams from 2009 to 2013 are being sued by the city for more than $1 million.

Former Assistant Chief Todd Peele, 43, and former Capt. Michael Cates, 45, are accused of using smartphones and hidden Bluetooth equipment to gain an unfair advantage over others who were testing for departmental promotions.

A third conspirator is not named or included in the suit as part of the city's legal strategy, according to the city attorney's office. All three have resigned from the Garland Fire Department.

Peele could not be reached for comment. Cates did not return a phone message. Both served the department for more than 20 years. Neither has submitted an answer to the lawsuit filed last week in Dallas County.

"By defrauding the city and cheating on their promotional examinations, Peele and Cates were paid tens of thousands of dollars in money they did not deserve," the suit said.

The city also asks that they be denied retirement benefits. The city claims it is also owed exemplary and/or punitive damages because it has suffered injury by promoting Peele and Cates over more deserving candidates.

By state law, promotions are by competitive examinations only. A department must give 90 days' notice before testing and must list source materials from which the questions will be asked. The test results determine who gets promoted.

"Each Garland firefighter has every right to expect that their brother and sister firefighters, the people with whom they entrusted their very lives, would compete for the limited promotional positions honestly and without cheating," the suit says.

Instead, the suit alleges, the three devised a means for a person taking an exam to get help from co-conspirators who had the source materials available outside the testing site.

When promotional exams were announced in early 2009, the suit says, Peele asked Fire Department officials for permission to read questions aloud during the exam, "falsely alleging that it was necessary for him to read aloud to himself to properly understand the questions."

The person taking the test would read the questions while having a cellphone line open to the co-conspirators. They would look up answers and provide them through a small, hidden Bluetooth device in the test taker's ear.

It won't be easy to fix things for those who missed promotions in the five tests in which cheating is alleged. Runners-up who score a passing grade are put on an eligibility list to be promoted in case of a vacancy. But state law also prescribes that those lists are to be kept only one year.

And those who missed the battalion chief spot Peele gained in 2009 wouldn't have the rank to have tested for assistant chief three years later.

Assistant City Attorney Michael Betz said the city is bound to Chapter 143 of the local government code in filling the vacancies.

"Whether anyone would be promoted retroactively is entirely dependent on 143," he said.

Betz said the city is not aware of any qualified potential fire administrators who have since left the department.

The law also states that a person commits an offense by knowingly or intentionally revealing a part of a promotional examination to an unauthorized person or receiving from an authorized or unauthorized person a part of a promotional examination for unfair personal gain or advantage. The penalty is a fine of at least $1,000 and up to a year in county jail.

Prosecution of any crime related to cheating on civil service exams would be separate from Garland's civil case and would be handled by federal or county attorney's offices.


April 7, 2009: According to the city's suit, the unnamed co-conspirator had outside help from Peele and Cates during a test to earn a promotion to fire driver.

April 8, 2009: The suit alleges Peele had help from the co-conspirator and Cates and scored a 98 on a test to earn a promotion to battalion chief.

May 26, 2010: The suit alleges Cates had help from the co-conspirator and scored a 95 on a test to earn a promotion to fire lieutenant.

May 23, 2012: The suit alleges Peele had help from Cates and/or the co-conspirator and scored a 98 on a test to earn a promotion to assistant chief; Cates called in to work sick that day.

March 5, 2013: The suit alleges Cates had help from Peele and/or the co-conspirator and scored a 96 on a test to earn a promotion to fire captain.

SOURCE: Dallas County court records

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TA Plays Live: Another Case of the Mondays

<Coupon Codep>It's Monday, and I feel like I'm going to die because I accidentally drank caffeinated coffee after being caffeine free for close to four months now... But death, or close to it, won't stop me from streaming on Twitch. That's my level of dedication to this dog and pony show we're running here. That, and I finally have a captive audience to discuss True Detective with.

Anyway, if you haven't yet, please follow us as it's the best way to get notified when we're streaming.

To tune into the TA Plays Live stream you've got three options:

  • The easiest is to just scroll down to see the embedded video stream and chat below. Make sure to turn the volume slider up if you want to hear game audio and commentary.
  • Visit the TouchArcade channel on Twitch directly and watch over there.
  • Download the Twitch.TV app [Free] and either hit this link on your device or simply search for the channel TouchArcade.

I usually stream until 6:00 PM Central, at which point (today especially) I'm getting out of here to go play some Titanfall with friends. That's coming out tonight, if you're in to the whole PC/console gaming thing and I hear it's pretty cool.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Memories of Maria von Trapp by a 'Sound of Music' Great-Grandchild

Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member of the seven original Trapp Family Singers, the vocal group made famous by the musical "The sound of music songs of Music," passed away on Tuesday at the age of 99. Speakeasy asked a current member of the Trapp family singers to reflect on Maria's passing.

Our great aunt Maria, sister of my grandfather Werner von Trapp, was the last to pass away of the original seven von Trapp Children on Tuesday Feb 18 th 2014. We will miss her cheerful spirit and infectious laugh. She was portrayed as Louisa from "The Sound Of Music."

Maria was taken from school because she was diagnosed with scarlet fever at a young age. Our great grandfather George von Trapp (a war hero in the Austrian Navy) asked a Salzburg abbey to provide a tutor to take care of the younger Maria. This tutor was none other Maria Kutschera who later became Maria von Trapp, stepmother to the seven children.

Aunt Maria recovered from the fever with a very cheerful disposition, even during troubling times. We remember hearing when her family was no longer able to afford servants, aunt Maria proclaimed "Hurrah! Now we can do our own dishes!"

She toured with her singing family as alto for 20 years all over the world. She was loved dearly by her family was called by the enduring nickname of "Mitzi." I remember my Aunt Agatha say that one of aunt Maria's jobs would be making sandwiches for the family while they were on their bus tours.

The family stopped singing in 1956. Maria's strong faith compelled her to contact a mission in Papua New Guinea, where she served as a missionary for 30 years. When she spoke of those years she would get her signature twinkle in her eye. She then returned to Stowe, Vermont full of joy and with an adopted son named Kikuli Mwanukuzi. Kikuli took great care of her till she passed away.

When the four of us were small Aunt Maria would come visit us in Montana always bringing her accordion. She would teach us Austrian folk songs and how to dance the Landler. In 2008 she translated over 40 Austrian children's songs that she asked us to record for her children's songbook.

Our great aunt Maria influenced everyone she met with such love, joy, and cheerfulness. We can speak for the many who will miss her dearly, especially her humor and her "Mitzi laugh."

Sofia von Trapp is a great-granddaughter of Capt. Georg von Trapp. She performs with her siblings, August, Amanda and Melanie, as the von Trapps. They recently collaborated with the band Pink Martini on "Dream a Little Dream," due March 4.

Disney rolls out discount after recent ticket price increase


Walt Disney World announced Tuesday a new ticket discount just days after its second ticket price increase in less than a year.

Disney's discount offers families and groups who purchase at least six Disney World passes valid for four days or more, an extra day for free tacked onto each ticket.

Currently, Disney charges $294 per person for a basic four-day pass and $304 for five days. The Orlando Sentinel reported that if a party spends $1,764, they would save $60, assuming no children under the age of 10.

Disney- which raised its prices by $4 on Sunday, bringing the total cost for entrance into its popular Magic Kingdom park to $99-said the promotional tickets must be purchased by June 14 and that each ticket must be fully used within 14 days after first use.

Check out these other Disney related links:

Walt Disney World cast members want higher pay, better benefits Disney, Publix among world's top 500 brands Disney extends Star Wars Weekends, tweaks event line-up Richardson is a general assignment reporter for online and print.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ticket Down Slashes Prices on Ringling Bros. Circus Tickets in Florence, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Knoxville, Raleigh, Brooklyn, Fayetville, Richmond, Long Island & Newark

<Couponp>New York, NY (PRWEB) February 16, 2014

Ticket Down announces that they have reduced prices across the board on all Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus tickets. Tickets for the Ringling Bros. circus are generally quite reasonable. This well known secondary ticket exchange has extended their customer appreciation promo code DISCOUNT for added savings.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American based circus company which was formed as a merger between a circus company formed by James Anthony and Barnum and Circus also known as Ringling Brothers Circus. After this merger, one of the Ringling brothers decided that instead of organizing the circus in portable tents, it should be organized in places like sports stadiums that already have sitting capacity and thus can provide better sitting arrangements for spectators.

The history of the circus links back to Dan Castello, who was eager to set up his own circus company for which he wanted Barnum to lend not only his name but also financial backing so that the circus could begin without further delay. Barnum agreed with Castello and as a result, P.T. Barnum's "Greatest Show on Earth" was organized. On the other side, Bailey along with James. E. Cooper joined hands to set up a circus business which soon became one of the top rivals of Barnum. This competition was the result of Columbia's birth which was said to be the first birth of an elephant in the United States. This baby elephant was born to Babe and Mandarin and several people were eager to see Columbia and as a result of this, Bailey's sales went up. Barnum, after all this, decided to buy Columbia and eventually agreed to arrange a combined show in the late 1880s. Barnum & Bailey Circus shows, as it was named at that time, turned out to be successful as people liked the idea.

Below is a list of the cities and venues which will host the Barnum & Bailey Circus through March:

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Florence, South Carolina Florence Civic Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Wells Fargo Center - PA

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Atlanta, Georgia Philips Arena

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Knoxville, Tennessee Knoxville Civic Coliseum

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Raleigh, North Carolina PNC Arena (Formerly RBC Center)

Ringling Bros And Barnum & Bailey Circus, Brooklyn, New York Barclays Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Fayetteville, North Carolina Crown Coliseum - The Crown Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Brooklyn, New York Barclays Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Richmond, Virginia Richmond Coliseum

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, North Charleston, South Carolina North Charleston Coliseum

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Salisbury, Maryland Wicomico Civic Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Uniondale, New York Nassau Coliseum

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Newark, New Jersey Prudential Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Chattanooga, Tennessee UTC Mckenzie Arena

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Cincinnati, Ohio US Bank Arena

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, East Rutherford, New Jersey Izod Center (formerly Continental Airlines Arena)

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Jackson, Mississippi Mississippi Coliseum

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Washington, District Of Columbia Verizon Center - DC

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Southaven, Mississippi Landers Center (Formerly Desoto County Civic Center)

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Columbia, South Carolina Colonial Life Arena

About Ticket Down:

Ticket Down delivers tickets to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus along with sold out concerts and events worldwide when no one else can and they do so at discounted prices. As a member of TicketNetworkDirect they can guarantee delivery of tickets on time for sporting events like NASCAR, NBA, NFL AND NHL, and for the hottest theater and concert events too. With Ticket Down, customer service is a priority.

The Best Part of Being the Boss: Offering Balance


Coupon Code-part-of-being-th_b_4847519.html?view=print&comm_ref=false">Print Article


The motivation for came to Jana Francis right after she had a daughter, her third child, when she had to head back to work in the sales management team for a dotcom at the end of her maternity leave. She realized she was a smart, capable woman who could work from home. Once she started thinking along those lines, the ideas started to flow.

Jana was always the one you could count on for online shopping deals -- her friends called her the dotcom princess. But when it came to online shopping in the baby space, she was disappointed. There was no website that would tell you the story of the product, why you would want it, and what problem it would solve for you. She developed a burning fire to create a new kind of website that would launch new steal deals every day -- a steep 40% to 80 % discount on premium baby products.

With a full-time career and three kids, one of which was a newborn, Jana took 18 months to go from concept to creation. She partnered with Rett Clevenger who at that time was an online media manager for a large e-commerce site, to launch the site in April, 2008. was the first site to be launched and as the business became profitable more sites were launched --,, and The revenue in 2012 was $16.4 million.

For five months until the site proved to be a success, Jana continued with her full-time job. She would utilize the breaks and lunchtime to call manufacturers and source products. Post work, she would follow up on emails, place additional purchase orders, check shipments and pack orders.


A month before launching the site, Jana took a two-week vacation to promote the site at a baby expo in Salt Lake City. With just a banner of her logo, a PowerPoint presentation, and some bookmarks she had made, she told every woman who walked by all about the business. She got 160 people to sign up for her email list and just before the launch, she emailed her family and friends as well as everyone on that list to spread the word. Even to this day, Jana says they have very little customer acquisition spending. But today that list has grown to 375,000 emails which are sent every day and the company has shipped 1.7 million orders.

Jana managed to pull all this off without any investor capital. She put in around $5,500 of her own money to get the website built, a logo designed and to pay for the baby expo fees. She covered the first month of product purchase with her credit card and was soon able to pay off the debt.

Jana now has over 70 full-time employees, most of them based out of Salt Lake City. Her webmaster was a former colleague who had left the company after her maternity leave and started freelancing. About 70% of her employees are women and about 25% of them have had a baby in the past two years.

Being a completely bootstrapped company, cannot offer its team the best possible pay, but for most of them the flexibility the company provides means a lot. Most of the customer service staff are able to work from home for 30 hours a week.

Jana says, "For me it is very rewarding to know that the situation I dreamed of for myself is being provided for so many moms in Utah who would not have a job if they were not working here."