Brands and bailouts

Who says you can’t make money flipping real estate these days? Earlier this month, the city agreed to award a $2.1 million bailout to Joe Zeiden, while his vaunted Z Gallerie development on K Street is bogged down in a court fight between the city and K Street landlord Moe Mohanna.

Some of that money pays Zeiden back for the taxes and interest he paid on two K Street parcels, along with maintenance and some improvements. The bulk of the payment, $1.5 million, is for purchasing two parcels on the 700 block of K Street that Zeiden bought back in 2004.

Which raises an obvious question: Did Zeiden make a profit on the deal?

Well, perhaps not so obvious, since city staff told Bites they didn’t actually know what Zeiden originally paid for the property back in 2004. So Bites called Zeiden Properties LLC, in Gardena. That call hasn’t been returned. Next, Bites consulted the tax records at the county recorder’s office. They don’t list the actual price tag, but you can get pretty close using the “transfer tax” recorded there. The county charges $1.10 for every $1,000 of purchase price, and the transfer tax listed was $1,265.

Bites got in a bit of high school before that whole locker-search policy kicked in, so a little figurin’ is no problem. Divide $1,265 by .0011 and, voilà, you get $1,150,000. Now, the transfer tax can be misleading—sometimes it doesn’t reflect other financing sources that are involved in a deal. But unless Bites is missing something, it looks like Zeiden made a cool $300,000 on the deal, a 25 percent profit. At a time when so many Sacramentans are getting soaked by the real -state market, it’s nice to know some folks can still get over.

As long as there’s money to be made for nothing on K Street, Bites wants in on the action.

Now as you know, the brand is all important here in the early part of the 21st century. AT&T isn’t just a telephone company, it’s a brand. Jay-Z isn’t a rapper, he’s a brand. And in the information economy, even a nobody’s name can become his brand.

So, you can understand that Bites’ human host (the guy writing this column) is concerned about the brand infringement involved in the new Cosmo Café, opening on K Street next month.

The David Taylor/Randy Paragary joint is promoted as “New York-style theater district dining” and an “upscale yet casual space.” That’s just the kind of thing that could undermine this brand Cosmo, which through years of careful cultivation has come to be happily associated with things more busted-up and scuzzy and weird.

So please, go poach someone else’s brand. The R.V. Room has a nice ring to it, no? Also, the Web site, needs to be taken down immediately. If Taylor and Paragary will not cease and desist—perhaps some sort of compensation could be arranged. About $300,000 should do the trick.

Bites has never actually heard it live, but how can you not love a radio station called “K Dirt.”

The Davis low-power, community-enhanced, FM station KDRT, which covers just the city of Davis, has operated at 101.5 FM for nearly four years. But a year ago KMJE, a big commercial outfit based in Yuba City and billing itself as “Sunny FM” started eyeballing the frequency.

And the Federal Communications Commission gave it to them.

Soon, regular listeners will notice John Tesh, John Mayer and Maroon 5 where they used to receive KDRT’s mix of the Davis Vanguard, Eclectic Dinosaur and the Shortwave Report.

But the overlords at the FCC aren’t completely heartless. “The [FCC] found a way to squeeze us in, instead of squeezing us out,” said station director, Jeff Shaw. KDRT has been awarded a new frequency at 95.7 FM, where it will begin broadcasting September 23.