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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (June 14, 2017)

Walt Disney Parks has filed multiple lawsuits over its property tax assessments for assets including the Magic Kingdom, reports Orlando Sentinel. A USA Today investigation found that 70 percent of buyers at Trump properties are secretive shell companies. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Disney Sues Over Property Assessments for Magic Kingdom, Other Properties “Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are suing over their property tax assessments from 2016, calling them ‘excessive.’ Disney filed nearly a dozen lawsuits at the end of last month in Orange Circuit Court, arguing the assessments by Orange County Appraiser Rick Singh exceeded their properties’ fair market value and incorrectly ‘included the value of certain intangible property in the assessments.’” (Orlando Sentinel)
  2. Qatar Looks to Make a Dent in NYC Luxury Real Estate “Although Qatar has been cut off by several other Middle Eastern neighbors for supporting and harboring terrorists, its sovereign wealth fund is doing business as usual and has investments and partners in New York City and around the globe. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) was created to invest earnings from liquefied natural gas, and has become one of the world’s largest investors.” (New York Post)
  3. Why Hotel Giant Marriott Is on an Expansion Binge as It Fends Off Airbnb “The Starwood deal is just the beginning of an epic drive for growth at Marriott, which ranks No. 163 on this year’s Fortune 500 with $17 billion in 2016 revenues. Sorenson, 58, pledges to add, on average, around 100,000 rooms annually over the next three years, or 50% more than Marriott and Starwood combined opened in 2016. Here’s probably the most astounding (and maybe the scariest) statistic: 36% of all hotel rooms under construction in North America, and 23% worldwide, are slated to be managed or franchised by Marriott.” (Fortune)
  4. Most Trump Real Estate Now Sold to Secretive Buyers “Since President Trump won the Republican nomination, the majority of his companies’ real estate sales are to secretive shell companies that obscure the buyers’ identities, a USA Today investigation has found. Over the last 12 months, about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies – corporate entities that allow people to purchase property without revealing all of the owners’ names. That compares with about 4% of buyers in the two years before.” (USA Today)
  5. Everything with the Name Sears Tied to it Is Completely Falling Apart “Sears announced Tuesday a restructuring program to deliver $1.25 billion in annualized cost reductions, according to a press release, including cutting some 400 full-time jobs at its corporate offices, support functions globally and field positions as well as the store closures the company announced last week. Sears shares were down nearly 2%, to $6.89, at 1:07 p.m., EDT. Meanwhile, Sears Canada weighed in with devastating news of its own on Tuesday.” (The Street)
  6. Mall Tenants Play Hardball in Lease Negotiations “Mall tenants are asking for more concessions from landlords facing pressure to fill their properties. Retailers, food and beverage operators and department store chains looking to renew their leases have been asking for more allowances from mall owners for renovations, lower rents or more flexible terms, said landlords, brokers and real estate lawyers. Tenants are taking advantage of a grim outlook for mall landlords.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  7. Eric Trump Foundation Probe Casts Shadow Over HUD “The New York State Attorney General’s investigation into possible misuse of funds at the Eric Trump Foundation is casting a shadow over the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where a former foundation vice president now works as a key adviser to Secretary Ben Carson. Before joining HUD in March, Lynne Patton was a vice president and board member at the Eric Trump Foundation between January 2009 and January 2017, according to her public financial disclosure report.” (The Real Deal)
  8. U.S. Retail Sales Drop 0.3% in May, vs. 0.1% Increase Expected “U.S. retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than a year in May amid declining purchases of motor vehicles and discretionary spending, which could temper expectations for a sharp acceleration in economic growth in the second quarter. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday retail sales fell 0.3 percent last month after an unrevised 0.4 percent increase in April. May's decline was the largest since January 2016 and confounded economists' expectation for a 0.1 percent gain.” (CNBC)
  9. Survey: Updated Amenities, Energy-Efficient Products Are the Most Adapted Next-Gen Features “Updated amenities and energy-efficient features are the two most-popular building product trends among multifamily professionals, according to MFE's exclusive 2017 MFE Concept Community study. Of the 151 multifamily builders, developers, and architects responding to our survey, 19.2% report testing updated or more-convenient amenities in their projects. Energy-efficient and energy-conserving products were nearly as popular, with 17.2% of respondents noting they're implementing the next-generation items in their developments.” (Multifamily Executive)
  10. Paramount in Poll Position to Take Control of 2 Herald Square: Sources “Paramount Group is now in pole position to take control of the leasehold for Sitt Asset Management’s 2 Herald Square, sources familiar with the negotiations told The Real Deal. Paramount, a Midtown-based office-centric real estate investment trust led by Albert Behler, would sizably up its stake in the property from the $30 million preferred equity interest it now holds. Sources said Jamestown Properties and Morris Bailey’s JEMB Realty are also in the mix, and in all three possible scenarios, the Sitt brothers would remain in the deal.” (The Real Deal)
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