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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (August 18, 2017)

The Chinese government has moved to limit domestic companies’ spending on foreign real estate, reports the Associated Press. The Minneapolis Star Tribune looks at an emerging use for brownfield sites. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. China to Limit Overseas Investments in Real Estate, Sports “China's government is moving to curb domestic companies' investments abroad in property, sports, entertainment and other fields, following a series of high-profile, multibillion-dollar acquisitions by Chinese firms. A document released Friday by the State Council, China's Cabinet, was the latest move by regulators to tap the brakes on a string of foreign acquisitions, citing concerns that the companies involved may be taking on too much debt.” (Associated Press)
  2. Apartment Fires Are Tied to Cheaper, Wood-Based Construction “Shortly after Independence Day last year, developer Rick Holliday got a call informing him his 105-unit apartment building, under construction in Oakland, Calf., had gone up in flames. Mr. Holliday suspected the fire was sparked by teenagers shooting off fireworks at the crucial point when the structure was fully framed with wood but the sprinkler system wasn’t yet installed. He began a $15 million rebuilding job, again using wood.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  3. Real Estate Remains Largely Silent on Trump’s Charlottesville Stance, Even as Big Business Slams Him “Top business leaders, including the heads of General Electric and Apple, slammed Trump for equivocating. Real estate leaders, by contrast, have largely stayed mum. In an attempt to take the temperature of the industry, The Real Deal reached out to over 50 leaders of development firms, commercial and residential brokerages and public real estate investment trusts. Overwhelmingly, they either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment. Those who did, for the most part, offered up a more general denunciation of racism and bigotry but shied away from addressing the president’s comments.” (The Real Deal)
  4. On Hard-to-Use Brownfields, Property Owners See a New Option Shining Down on Them “Now an alternative to commercial redevelopment is emerging: conversion into solar power installations. Brownfield advocates locally and around the country are touting the unique suitability of many former landfills to host solar panels, thereby wringing at least some value out of even the worst contamination sites. ‘Using capped landfills for solar development is something that has the potential to provide a great amount of energy to the country,’ said Joe Mahowald, a program associate with Minnesota Brownfields, a nonprofit group devoted to promoting the redevelopment of contaminated lands.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
  5. Gap’s CEO Just Had a Bizarre Rant on Why He Doesn’t Run a Mall Retailer “Gap is back, mall rats. But it wants to remind you that it's not just a mall retailer. ‘Really, it's just flat-out wrong,’ said CEO Art Peck on the Gap Inc. (GPS) earnings call Thursday Aug. 17, urging everyone to refrain from calling Gap a ‘mall-based apparel retailer.’ ‘We have clear points of advantage,’ he said, first and foremost including ‘our portfolio of iconic, profitable brands.’ Iconic? Eh, probably a stretch. But profitable isn't far off.” (The Street)
  6. QCP Seeking Receivership for HCR ManorCare Properties “Quality Care Properties (NYSE: QCP) has begun legal proceedings to have an independent receiver take over the operations of its skilled nursing and assisted living/memory care communities that currently are being operated by HCR ManorCare. Toledo, Ohio-based ManorCare operates more than 500 skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), assisted living communities, outpatient rehab clinics, memory care communities, and hospice and home health agencies.” (Skilled Nursing News)
  7. GGP Starts Renovation of New HQ “Shortly after signing a lease agreement at River North Point, shopping mall owner GGP tapped Skender Construction to renovate its new headquarters. The developer will work together with design firms ARCHIDEAS and Environmental Systems Design as well as JLL to bring the project to completion by January 2018. GGP, formerly known as General Growth Properties, decided to relocate its 700 employees from its current office at 110 N. Upper Wacker Drive to 350 N. Orleans because developers are planning to tear down the five-story building.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  8. How to Build a Real Estate Brand from Scratch in 9 Months “Figuring out the brand's purpose and values before creating a logo (or even a name) can be fruitful for broker-owners building from the ground up. Finding the right space and creating an office look and feel that supports the brand can create a sort of community hub. Brand consistency can help put your brokerage at the forefront of your market if you've nailed the basics.” (Inman)
  9. Number of Equity-Rich Properties Continues to Grow “ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q2 2017 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report shows that at the end of the second quarter of 2017, there were more than 14 million U.S. properties that were equity-rich – where the combined loan amount secured by the property was 50% or less of the estimated market value of the property. This figure was up by nearly 320,000 properties from the previous quarter and up by more than 1.6 million properties from a year ago. The 14 million equity-rich U.S. properties represented 24.6% of all U.S. properties with a mortgage, up from 24.3% in the previous quarter and up from 22.1% in Q2 2016.” (MortgageOrb)
  10. Dominion Names Future HQ; May Unload Fan, Downtown Properties “With the first of potentially two new towers under construction on Sixth Street, Richmond’s resident utility giant has chosen a name for its forthcoming downtown complex – and it’s also mulling the future of two other sizable properties in the city. Dominion Energy this week announced that the 20-story, nearly 1-million-square-foot office building taking shape at its 111 S. Sixth St. headquarters will be called Canal Place, spokesman Ryan Frazier said. That building, being developed by Richmond’s Hourigan Construction and Chicago-based Clayco, will be dubbed 600 Canal Place, due to its address at 600 Canal St.” (Richmond BizSense)
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