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PROFILE - ART DECO MAN (Part 2)
Orange County Jewish Life - January 2005
Which is why, he continues, that he’s looking mainly for self-starters. People who are used to living in a house, and not dealing with apartment managers. He also reveals that many of his tenants hail from the East Coast; Boston and New York where they’re used to living in pre-war buildings. “Then they come to LA and are really depressed about finding somewhere decent to live.”
But if you think you can just cough up the cash and waltz into a Goldstein apartment, think again. Your money doesn’t impress him in the least. And you’d better be handy with a word processor and have a lyrical bent, because Goldstein expects you to write an essay. Yes, an essay.
And those essays are key. They supersede vast pots of cash and references any day of the week. And that’s crucial when there’s a waiting list as long as your arm to reside in a Dave Goldstein apartment. “I learn everything about people from their essays,” he says. “I never tell them what to write, I tell them they can write anything. Most, when they start writing, write their whole life story.”
But the essay isn’t Goldstein’s only non-conventional method when it comes to choosing potential tenants. If you’re black, Jewish, a pet owner, have lousy credit and/or zero references, you may well be just the type of person Goldstein is looking for. “I practice reverse discrimination,” he says. “A lot of my tenants have no jobs,” he reveals, but adds the all-important caveat that many have trust funds. “Basically I look for people who have been prejudiced against. I even take people who have AIDS. I’ve had people pass away in my apartments.”
Oh, and he’s also into astrological signs. “I like Cancers and Geminis,” he reveals, and current tenants have been known to tell prospective tenants that if you were born under one of these signs, you’re a shoo-in for a Dave Goldstein apartment. Whereas, Virgos? Well, don’t get him started on Virgos. “Virgos will pay you a week early but they’ll forget to sign the check or it will get lost in the mail, or they won’t date it. And they complain about everything,” he says.
However, if you happen to be born in September, don’t despair; Goldstein does in fact have several Virgo tenants.
But no matter what your astrological sign, don’t even think about turning up with a futon. You’ll be out the door faster than you can say ‘tacky’. Goldstein has little sympathy for futon owners. But if you drive a Saab? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Of course there’s no rhyme or reason to these little obsessions of Goldstein’s—except the Saab issue may stem from the fact that Goldstein used to renovate antique cars. Nevertheless, he must be doing something right. In the past 13 years, since he stumbled into the business, he’s only ever had to evict three tenants.
Like many success stories, Goldstein, who today owns 11 properties in choice LA real estate districts, began his latest career as a hobby. “I decided one day that I would buy one old building, an English Tudor with wood panels and leaded glass. I thought it would be fun to restore it. And then I discovered hundreds of people wanted to rent the places, but I only had eight apartments. So then I bought the one next door, and the one across the street, then one in the next street, and pretty soon I had 11.”
He also reveals that when deciding on which properties to purchase, he listens to his female tenants. “In general, they want hardwood floors, light, a garage and some kind of intercom system for security. “I always keep this in mind when I’m looking at purchasing a new building.”
With no formal study in the business behind him—Goldstein picked up most of his techniques while traveling extensively through Europe and imbibing the architecture—he simply says, “I’m a collector. I love beautiful things. And I think whenever you have an interest in what you’re doing a lot of it comes naturally.
“And I go overboard,” he confesses. “I want the instant gratification when I start in on a new building. “So I bring it all in,” he says. “The wrought ironwork, the leaded glass, fountains in the courtyards, the whole bit. I’m the type of guy who can’t wait two years for the tree to grow, I’ll just bring the whole tree in, full-size.
“What can I say?” he smiles. “I like to fix up things, I love history and I love to see transformation.”
And with that he’s off again to his latest building to check the faucets, decide on color schemes, and seek out yet more elusive 1930s knick-knacks.