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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (August 23, 2017)

Condominium developers are converting their units into rentals, reports the Wall Street Journal. Wal-Mart teams up with Google to compete with Amazon, according to MarketWatch. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Converted Office Parks Try to Lure Millennials with Cheaper Rents “Developer National Resources has for several years been studying different office, retail and residential schemes for an underused corporate campus designed in the 1960s for International Business Machines Corp. in East Fishkill, N.Y. But now, as National Resources moves to close on a deal to buy a 300-acre site, the Greenwich, Conn.-based developer is recognizing that housing has got to be a central component of the plan.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  2. Kohl’s to Reduce Floor Space in Half of its Stores by End of Year “There are some major changes going on at Kohl's stores. The department store retailer announced plans to make nearly half its locations "operationally smaller through balancing inventory and adjusting fixtures" by the end of 2017. To date, the new interior layouts have been rolled out in 300 of Kohl's 1,100 locations. In addition, Kohl’s plans to ‘right-size’ the physical square footage of its store in Warner Robbins, Ga., reducing it from an 89,000-sq.-ft. store to a 62,000-sq.-ft. one.” (Chain Store Age)
  3. Latest Capital Controls Won’t Choke Off Chinese Overseas Real Estate Investments—CBRE “The impact of the latest round of capital controls announced Aug. 18 by China's State Council in curbing Chinese overseas direct investment into real estate could be relatively light, said a report by global commercial real estate services firm CBRE Tuesday. Controls imposed since late 2016 to staunch capital flight and bolster the yuan in currency markets saw Chinese overseas direct investments to real estate for the first half of 2017 plunge 82% from the year before to $25.6 billion, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.” (Pensions & Investments)
  4. President Trump Loses Support of Real Estate Industry “The majority of Inman readers disapprove of Donald Trump’s performance as president, an Inman poll reveals. Of those who responded to the one-question survey, 66 percent said they disapproved of the way Trump is handling the job, 33 percent said they approved and only 1 percent had no opinion. The results of this poll, which garnered 1,026 responses on Aug. 21-22, 2017, come one year after Inman asked readers who they supported in the presidential election.” (Inman)
  5. Condo Owners Eye Cashing In on Rental Market “During real-estate booms developers often rush to convert rental buildings into condos to take advantage of skyrocketing prices. But in an unusual reversal, investors in Chicago are transforming condos into apartments. Dozens of stately Chicago condo buildings are or have recently been converted into rentals, real-estate agents say.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  6. Whole Foods Shareholders Vote in Approval of Amazon Deal “Whole Foods shareholders have at last voted to advance Amazon's acquisition of the grocery chain, moving the proposal one step closer to reality. Gathered at Whole Food's headquarters in Austin, Texas, the retailer's shareholders approved a merger with the internet giant on Wednesday morning. Amazon shareholders don't need to sign off on the deal. Now, completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Whole Foods and Amazon are preparing to seal their $13.7 billion deal, which would also mark the biggest retail deal of 2017.” (CNBC)
  7. Why Ben Carson’s Appearance in Phoenix Was Likely a Violation of Federal Law “Among the prohibitions included in the Hatch Act is one prohibiting Cabinet secretaries from leveraging their positions for a political cause. That means that the head of, say, the Department of Housing and Urban Development can’t appear at a campaign rally in a way that implies he’s doing so in an official capacity. Say, by being introduced with his official title.” (The Washington Post)
  8. Wal-Mart, Google Team Up to Battle Amazon “Google and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are joining forces in a partnership that includes enabling voice-ordered purchases from the retail giant on Google’s virtual assistant, challenging rival Amazon.com Inc.’s grip on the next wave of e-commerce. Wal-Mart said Wednesday that next month it will join Google’s online-shopping marketplace, Google Express. While the deal will add hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart items to Google Express, it will also give Wal-Mart access to voice ordering. The deal won’t alter how consumers receive their orders, because Wal-Mart will fulfill purchases made through Google Express.” (MarketWatch)
  9. Valle Vista Mall Owners in Harlingen to Return Property to Lenders “The owners of the city’s premier mall say they intend to dump the property on lenders, apparently conceding profits from the mall will not meet expectations. City officials, however, expect new ownership will keep the 650,504-square-foot retail mall open. ‘With the continued growth of the Harlingen economy, this news is welcomed,’ Mayor Chris Boswell said in a statement. ‘What has been reported is that Washington Prime borrowed too much money against the Harlingen property, but during their ownership the lease revenues continued to perform reasonably.’” (The Monitor)
  10. JW Marriott Chicago Lands $270M Natixis Refi “Nearly seven years after opening in the former Continental & Commercial National Bank Building in Chicago’s downtown Loop, the JW Marriott Chicago Hotel has been refinanced with a $270 million loan provided by Natixis, a French corporate and investment bank. The owners opened the premier luxury hotel at 151 W. Adams St. in the heart of the financial district in November 2010 following a $396 million restoration. Designed by noted architect Daniel Burnham in the early 1900s, the first 12 floors of the former bank building were transformed into a 610-key luxury hotel.” (Commercial Property Executive)
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