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William G. Clemens COLUMN

Landlords could pay for tenants’ crimes

William G. Clemens

Landlords, beware:

If you know your tenants are involved in crime – and you do nothing about it – you could end up paying a fine and maybe doing some time.

A Phoenix man is believed to be the first person convicted and sentenced under a state law that holds landlords responsible for ”failing to abate crime” on their property.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office charged that a rental property owned by 60-year-old Wallace Dossie was an active crack cocaine house.

Dossie was fined $1,000, placed on two years’ probation and required to perform 100 hours of community service.

Plus he spent 22 days in the slammer after he was arrested.

The County Attorney’s Office got involved when neighbors who had tried to shut down the crack house on their own appealed for help, says Jana Sorensen, the deputy county attorney who prosecuted Dossie.

The office decided to prosecute after Dossie ignored repeated warnings from Phoenix authorities to clean up the place, Sorensen says.

She says the law’s intent is to get ”voluntary compliance” from landlords.

In the past, ”Property owners have had free rein. There has been no reason that they need to keep crime off their property.”

However, it’s the landlord’s actions, not the fact that crime occurs on their property, that determines whether to prosecute, she says.

”You really have to have a landlord who is simply unwilling to take steps to fix the problem.

”If the landlord tries to solve the problem but the crime continues, you can’t expect the landlord to do more than that.”

New store at Foothills Mall

Linens ‘n Things, a nationwide retailer of linens and housewares, is joining the growing lineup of new stores at Foothills Mall.

Linens ‘n Things will occupy 40,000 square feet of the former Foley’s store, says mall manager Bill Kelley. It’s scheduled to open by May.

It’s the third anchor tenant to commit to the mall since a partnership headed by Kansas City, Mo., investor Cecil Van Tuyl bought the ailing mall in April 1995.

Off 5th, a Saks Fifth Avenue outlet store, was opened last month. Barnes & Noble opened a 40,000-square-foot bookstore last week.

Kelley says deals are pending for the remaining 80,000 square feet of anchor space available.

Expansion of the mall’s theater should start within a month, Kelley adds.

The seven-screen Cineplex Odeon theater will add eight screens. With 15 screens, it will be the second-largest theater complex in town, after the Century 16 at West Grant Road and Interstate 10.

The mall also recently signed two smaller tenants. Bannister Shoe Studio will lease 4,000 square feet, and Colours & Scents, a makeup and perfume retailer, will lease 2,500 square feet.

Bannister, an outlet store that sells women’s brand-name shoes, opens Friday.

Colours & Scents, a division of Revlon Corp., will open by May, Kelley says.

Foothills Mall will hold a grand opening celebration with prizes and entertainment Saturday and Sunday.

Apartment market up

Tucson’s battered apartment market posted a slight – make that very slight – improvement during the quarter that ended Sept. 30.

After two years of steady increases, the vacancy rate dropped 0.37 percent from the year-ago quarter and now stands at a shade over 11 percent, says RealData Inc., a Phoenix firm that tracks apartment markets in Southwestern cities.

But that’s a ”notable” drop when you consider that more than 5,000 units have been added to the city’s apartment inventory in the past three years, says RealData President Randy Zonge.

It looks as if improvement in the vacancy rate will continue to be slow – and that means rental rates should stay where they are or even drop slightly.

The 1,500 units under construction or in the planning stage ”will prevent the market from recovering in the near term,” Zonge says.

”However, the spigot of funds fueling new products has been completely cut off, which will provide needed time for demand to catch up with supply.”

Shopping in Green Valley

A partnership that includes a former general manager of the Fairfield Homes operation in Green Valley is developing a $3 million shopping complex in the retirement town.

Plaza Del Sol will be built on 6 1/2 acres at Camino Encanto and Camino Del Sol, in what former Fairfield executive Stephen Powell says is becoming known as ”Green Valley South.”

The site is about two miles south and half a mile west of the Continental Road exit on Interstate 19.

The 25,000-square-foot complex will include a Liberty Bank and Trust.

Powell says construction will start in February, with the plaza opening by November.

The partnership paid $850,000 for the site. Powell says construction costs will push the project into the $3 million range.

Assistant Business Editor William G. Clemens covers real estate for the Tucson Citizen. His column appears Mondays in Trend$. If you have information about what’s happening with real estate or construction in Tucson, contact him at the Tucson Citizen, P.O. Box 26767, 85726. Phone: 573-4609. Fax: 573-4569.

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