Lending Conditions Easing; Is Amazon Looking to Open Stores? (Weekend Roundup)

I'll be posting some thoughts about the ICSC New York National Conference and Dealmaking later today or some time tomorrow. The format is slightly different than past years. I'm still trying to get a read on the mood. It's obviously better than last year when the conference was held on the heels of the major collapses by Lehman Brothers and AIG. Things aren't exactly good, but there's a feeling that we're near the beginning of the recovery. I'll write more when I get a chance to gauge what more people think.

For now, here's a roundup of some headlines from late last week and this past weekend.

  • ING's David Lynn wrote a column for our sister publication NREI looking at the signs of life emerging from lenders. It's not easy to get loans, but it is easier than it was earlier this year. Average mortgage rates are down from crisis levels and mortgage spreads have decreased as well. It's a step in the right direction.
  • Rumors circulated that Amazon might be opening brick-and-mortar locations. But the online retail giant denied that this is the case.
  • Joseph Freed & Associates has at least one more week at the helm of Block 37. It is fighting to retain control of the project. The delay in this case is due to the receiver being unable to line up the necessary insurance for the project. The New York Times also had an interesting piece about the Block 37 saga.
  • Anne D'Innoenzio wrote a great primer on understanding holiday shopping data. For example, it puts into context Black Friday sales and whether or not they are a good bellwether for the rest of the season.
  • Llenrock Blog put together a top 10 list of the best commercial real estate books. It's worth checking out. It also seems like there's room for some good stories to be told about the histories of some companies (say, Simon Property Group or the story of the Debarolo family). Wouldn't that make for interesting reading?
  • Speaking of Simon, the firm, along with Brookfield Asset Management has stocked up on some of General Growth's debt. The Wall Street Journal also reported on the moves by Brookfield and Simon. We'll further explore the implications of this buying spree in our newsletter this week.
  • In an interesting commentary with lots of links, Kaid Benfield asks, "As we lose shopping malls, are we losing something sacred?" Are malls America's cathedrals? The piece explores that question and its implications.
  • Lastly, in a bizarre story, a man dressed as an elf was jailed after telling a mall Santa that he was carrying dynamite. He wasn't, but is facing stiff charges for the hoax.
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