12.08.07

A-Rod : Landlord Of The Year

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 11:51 am by

Not only has The Third Baseman used his considerable savvy to work his way back into the good graces of the New York Yankees, but his other business interests (exploits?) are every bit as intriguing. From Friday’s New York Times and the SI-bound Selena Roberts.

The paint is camouflage for the mottled backside of the complex, where an exhausted appliance sits on a porch, cardboard is taped over broken window panes and missing spindles give rickety banisters the look of a snaggletooth smile.Some residents here tell tales of roaches overtaking kitchen cabinets in a bumper-to-bumper crawl to the corn flakes, of carpets stained in the 1990s and quick-trigger evictions.

œMy mom comes here and she ain™t no rich person, but she thinks I live in the projects, said Miguel Ruiz as he sat on the second-floor landing of Building 2-A on a recent Sunday afternoon. œShe™s scared to come over here, for real.

As Ruiz spoke, he pulled a boy named Elijah from a gap in the railing that opened when yet another piece of the banister rattled loose and fell to the ground.

œSee, stuff like that, with kids around, it™s messed up here, Ruiz said, adding, œHonestly, I was raised in a ghetto and I was brought up a little better than this.

This is one of six apartment complexes in the Tampa area, and one of at least 16 nationwide, that Rodriguez owns and operates as the chief executive of Newport Property Ventures.

An examination of his high-rolling corporate side, as well as a glossy A-Rod Family Foundation short on largess, reveals a portrait of Rodriguez as a player about to enter Yankee Take II solely for business purposes, primarily as a branding tool. He emerges as an obsessive pursuer of cold, hard numbers on and off the bases, with serially disingenuous nods to his ever-challenged image.

A-Rod isn™t exactly a slumlord ” some renters interviewed at his other properties had milder complaints ” but he has become a landlord caricature among dwellers who hold him accountable for, say, the stack of molding mattresses by the dumpster at Newport Villas on MacDill Avenue.

A-Rod is the face on their leaky faucets, and yet his name isn™t in the welcome kit. Rodriguez™s brother-in-law, Constantine Scurtis, is the company manager ” the one whose signature is on nearly $50 million in mortgages for properties in Tampa, according to records ” but some of the cashiers and cooks who live at places like Newport Riverside know who holds their house keys.

To them, he isn™t A-Rod, a regular-season crackerjack on the verge of a Yankees deal potentially worth $300 million. To them, he is Tight-Rod, an apartment tycoon, who, renters say, has jacked late fees to $100 from $50 on units that run around $600 a month.

œHe™s got everything, so why take money off our backs?  said Roberto Santiago, standing next to his neighbor, Ruiz.

Why, with so many investment options, would A-Rod put himself in the unwinnable position of profiting off struggling families?

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