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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (January 24, 2018)

Jerome Powell has been confirmed as the new Federal Reserve Chair, reports NPR. Toys ‘R’ Us will close 180 of its U.S. stores, according to Fortune. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

Senate Confirms Jerome Powell as New Federal Reserve Chair “The Senate approved President Trump's nominee, current Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell, as the new head of the nation's central bank on Tuesday. The confirmation came in a vote of 84-13, an unsurprising action given Powell's support among Republicans and Democrats alike who expect that he will follow the policies of the outgoing Chair Janet Yellen.” (NPR)

Owners of McDonald’s Aren’t Happy with Headquarters as Promotions Pick Up and Remodeling Costs Pick UpMcDonald's is gearing up for a strong 2018, impressing investors and customers, but its franchisees aren't as happy. In survey conducted by Nomura-Instinet, several franchisees said their relationship with corporate executives was strained. Among the reasons they cited were they felt pressured to adopt the brand's new value menu, add new equipment and products and to remodel their locations or face the wrath of the company, said Mark Kalinowski, a Nomura-Instinet analyst, in a research note.” (CNBC)

Toys ‘R’ Us Is Closing 180 U.S. Stores After Declaring Bankruptcy “Toys “R” Us Inc. is planning to close about 180 U.S. stores as part of a reorganization plan to emerge from its September bankruptcy, according to a court filing. The move to shutter about 20 percent of its U.S. store base, which needs court approval, comes four months after the world’s largest toy chain filed for protection from its creditors, a response to years of lackluster results and an unsustainable $5 billion debt load. The closures will begin next month, with Babies “R” Us locations accounting for at least half.” (Fortune)

New York City Puts Up $100 Million to Create a Biotech Hub “New York City is asking: If biotech can make it anywhere, can't it make it here? The city government is today asking for proposals on how to use $100 million in funds and city land to create a "life sciences hub" with the goal of making the city competitive with Boston and San Francisco as a place to start biotechnology companies. The money is part of $500 million in resources the city has earmarked to draw biotech investment.” (Forbes)

The Latest Perk at Malls: Gas Fill-Ups While You Shop “As the competition for shoppers intensifies, a California mall is now offering customers the perk of having gas delivered to their cars in the parking lot while they shop. The Great Mall in Milpitas, Calif., recently joined with Booster Fuels, an app-based company that comes directly to cars at offices and retail parking spaces and refuels them.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)

L.A. Office Rents Rise as Once Second-Tier Markets Gain Favor with New Players “Office landlords in Los Angeles County neighborhoods formerly considered declasse raised rents last quarter, reflecting the shift in tenants' perceptions of desirable addresses. Markets such as Mid-Wilshire, Culver City and Hollywood once spurned by prosperous, image-conscious firms are now the first choice for many, said Petra Durnin, director of research and analysis for Southern California at real estate brokerage CBRE. In decades past, staid financial and legal firms kept the center of gravity primarily in downtown L.A. and the Westside, she said. ‘It used to be that if you weren't in Century City, you weren't a player.’” (Los Angeles Times)

JP Morgan Chase to Build 400 New Branches, Raise Wages Because of the Tax CutJ.P. Morgan Chase announced plans to spend $20 billion over five years to raise hourly pay for a portion of its workforce, add jobs and open 400 branches in new U.S. locations. The bank says tax breaks, reduced regulation and an improved business climate have made it possible to make these changes, which also include adding 4,000 jobs and increasing its charitable giving.” (CNBC)

SoftBank Subsidiary Issues Loan to Kushner Companies for Jersey City Project “While under contract to be acquired by spendy Japanese investment machine SoftBank, Fortress Investment Group lent $57 million in pre-construction financing to Kushner Companies for its long-delayed development site at One Journal Square in Jersey City. Barron’s reported that the loan was made in October 2017, after Kushner Companies had borrowed $22 million in short-term bridge financing from Santander Bank in 2016 and $22 million from Ladder Capital Finance — President Trump’s second-biggest lender — in 2014.” (The Real Deal)

7-Eleven Completes Purchase of 1030 Sunoco Stores After FTC Review Excludes 59 “7-Eleven on Tuesday completed the purchase of 1,030 stores in 17 states, including Stripes stores in Texas, from Dallas-based Sunoco for $3.3 billion. The deal brings 7-Eleven's U.S. and Canada store count to 9,700 and puts it in the Houston market. 7-Eleven also purchased the Stripes and Laredo Taco Company brands.” (Dallas Morning News, subscription required)

No Joy for REIT Investors as Shares Miss Out on the Rally “While stock investors are loading up like kids in a candy store, shareholders of real-estate investment trusts are more like sad street urchins pressing their faces up against the window. Last year, while the S&P 500 index soared 21.8%, the FTSE Nareit All Equity REITs index rose just 8.7%. So far this year, the S&P is up more than 6%, while the REIT index is down 2.4%.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)

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