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Locals Play The Convention Housing Game

Ben Wilson’s hoping his Craigslist ad will attract a renter willing to pay $15,000 a week for his 1BR Uptown condo.

Ben Wilson's hoping his Craigslist ad will attract a renter willing to pay $15,000 a week for his 1BR Uptown condo. Photo: Tanner Latham Lots of people are looking to make a buck off the DNC convention. Hotels, restaurants, and even homeowners. When the DNC convention begins, Tom Lane expects to have his Dilworth condo rented out to someone else. But not just anyone. He's looking for some celebrities. "Barbara Walters, or Wolf Blizter, or Anderson Cooper. Somebody like that," he says. "And I was thinking, 'They're going to take care of the place. I'm not going to have any issues with them wrecking the joint.' At least I don't think I would." Tom's hoping the Wolf Blitzers of the world are cruising Craigslist for deals. That's where he listed his 2,000 square foot two bedroom condo for $3,000 a week. He's hardly alone. For the frugal, there's a "cozy cottage" in Sheffield Park for $125 a night. And if your tastes are more expensive, you could shell out $30,000 for a one-week stay at a two bedroom condo Uptown. Ben Wilson isn't reaching quite that high. He posted his one bedroom Uptown condo on Craigslist for $15,000 a week. It's got exposed duct work, a concrete ceiling, and a stained polished concrete floor. When Chike Okwara heard about Ben's condo, he said, "Wow! I think that's a lot of money." Chike runs DNCHomes.com, a website dedicated to political convention housing in Charlotte. He charges $30 to list a room. $95 for a house or condo. He's mostly seen rates between $150-$200 a night. And he laughs at $15,000 a week. However, at this stage of the political convention game, these rates are normal according to Kimberly Smith. She's the owner of Avenue West Corporate Housing in Denver, Colorado. She says people were unrealistic leading up the 2008 DNC convention in Denver. And many lost out as a result. "There was no reining in the private owners by the time all the hype was out there," she says. "So when we were about three to six months out, everyone was 100 percent convinced that $15,000 and that $30,000 was a doable number. And I would say about 50 percent of those sat empty." While the convention will attract A-list celebrities and other wealthy people, she says owners need to consider the average families who will be here as well. But there certainly are some people willing to pay a premium, as Adam Dietrich found out. "I have a client on Queens Road who has got a very nice home," he says. Great backyard. Lots of land. And approached me and said, "I'm not a Democrat, but I have no problem taking their money." Modern day butler Adam Dietrich travels everywhere with his iPad. It's perfect for digital presentations and playing his favorite game, Angry Birds. Photo: Tanner Latham Adam's not a real estate agent. He's a butler. A modern day butler who wears pinstripes and has an addiction to his iPhone and iPad. He's more like Jeeves 2.0. He negotiated $2,000 a night for that client. And that's just for the space itself. Dietrich can also provide a personal chef, a cleaning service, and transportation through his company, Charlotte Premiere Butler Services, for an additional $1,000 to $3,000 a day. "Because they don't want to stay in a hotel," Adam continues. "And they want a place where they can entertain. Because that's what it's all about. It's not about the convention. It's about the parties. It's like Oscar Night. It's not about the ceremony. It's about who's throwing the best ball." You could say this is Adam's red carpet moment. He plans to double his staff to 60 the week of the convention. Because his goal is to manage 50 properties and gross $250,000 just from convention business. But he'll have his fair share of competition from amateurs. Like Ben Wilson, for example, the guy in the flat with a polished concrete floor. If he rents his place, he plans to take the convention week off so he can chauffeur his renters around town. He thinks that would be kinda fun and profitable. Modern day butler Adam Dietrich has already found renters for 32 of his clients. Photo: Tanner Latham