Benderson, Filene's Basement, J.Jill, Price Chopper, FDIC Sale (Monday's News & Notes)

Here are some news and notes on retail and retail real estate from around the Web today.

  • A new report from Fitch ratings says that it expects to keep its top rating on the most senior commercial mortgage-backed securities for the "foreseeable future." This seems to be in response to S&P's recent announcement that it may soon downgrade hundreds of recent bond issues. S&P's announcement sent the market into a bit of a tizzy since downgrading bonds might make them ineligible for the TALF program. That, in turn, led to rumbles that TALF needs to be changed.
  • The FDIC sold $295 million in commercial loans in April at 60 cents on the dollar. Zero Hedge has the details. Among other things, Zero Hedge notes that FDIC sold just 315 loans in April compared to the 1,328 it sold in March.
  • Advertising Age summarizes a recent report that says malls remain an effective vehicle for reaching teens, even if spending is off. "Although 61% of teens surveyed said they had less money to spend at the mall, 62% said they are going to the mall more or about as often as they did six months ago. Just 12% said they had not visited a mall in the past 30 days."
  • Reuters previews the upcoming back-to-school shopping season, which begins next month. The season kicks off a critical stretch for the retail sector and ranks only behind the holiday shopping season in terms of importance to the sector. At the moment, consumers are still exhibiting a reluctance to spend. Consumers are spending on necessities, but discretionary spending is still weak.
  • An article at CoStar last week wrote about FDIC data that pegs the amount of troubled assets on bank balance sheets at $34 billion--double the amount 12 months ago.
  • Supermarket News offered some details on Price Chopper's new LEED silver store. Features at the 64,000-square-foot store include the first commercially used fuel cell in upstate New York, which ties to the generator to power the entire store if an outage occurs; skylights to reduce the amount of power for lighting; LED-lighting in all refrigerated cases; ceiling light fixtures with high-output ballasts; heat generated from compressors that heats water for sinks; floor tiles, shelving and steel-beam supports made from recycled products; exclusive use of green cleaning solvents; paint that's low in volatile organic compounds; and a biohydrator machine that converts meat scraps and produce trimmings to a liquid that's used as fertilizer.
  • Talbot's sale of J.Jill will mean 75 store closures. That brings the announced closings to date to more than 3,000.
  • Benderson bought 11 properties back from Developers Diversified that it sold in 2004--reportedly at a 30 percent discount. I speculated on what that might mean for the broader investment sales market here.
  • On Friday, Men's Wearhouse bought Filene's Basement for about $60 million. It plans to keep 20 of the 25 Filene's shops open.
  • Dow Jones recapped last week's NAREIT REIT Week conference and found the mood to be generally positive--in stark contrast with another industry gathering back in November. However, REITWrecks is a bit skeptical of the notion that REITs have definitively turned a corner.
  • Also, over the weekend William Ackman was named to General Growth's board of directors.
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