10 Must Read Items for the CRE Industry Today (December 10, 2018)

The Trump administration is expected to nominate Mark Calabria to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, reports the Wall Street Journal. Forbes provides legal tips for investing in commercial real estate. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Trump Expected to Nominate Fannie, Freddie Critic to Oversee Mortgage Finance Giant “The White House is preparing to pick a vice presidential aide and critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the post responsible for overseeing the housing-finance companies. The Trump administration is expected to soon announce that it plans to nominate Mark Calabria to become the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator for the two companies, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Calabria currently serves as chief economist to Vice President Mike Pence.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  2. Affordable Housing on a Megachurch Parking Lot? This Brooklyn Pastor Hopes So “On Sundays, hundreds of cars squeeze into the 10-acre parking lot of a sprawling megachurch in East New York, Brooklyn, that caters to the largest evangelical congregation in the city. Other days, the expansive lot — part blacktop, part gravel — mostly sits empty in one of the poorest pockets of the city. For decades, the Rev. A. R. Bernard, the pastor of the Christian Cultural Center, has had a vision for his underutilized parcel near Jamaica Bay: to construct an urban village, as he calls it, of affordable housing, local shops and a new performing arts center.” (The New York Times)
  3. Six Legal Tips for Purchasing Commercial Real Estate “For instance, if you are purchasing industrial property, it is important to understand the requirements that are involved in alleviating environmental liability. Certain states have tougher laws regarding this, and New Jersey is one of them. In many states, completing a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment is sufficient. In New Jersey, a Preliminary Assessment is required to mitigate the client of environmental liability, in addition to a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment and a Phase 2 Environmental Assessment.’ (Forbes)
  4. With SF’s Retail Storefronts Empty, Mayor Pushes for More Flexibility “San Francisco Mayor London Breed is to announce plans Monday for legislation and permitting changes to make it faster and easier to open a retail business, in an effort to fill the empty storefronts that have deadened city neighborhoods for years. ‘It’s really hard to do business in San Francisco,’ Breed said. ‘When there’s too many layers of process and requirements and fines and permits and all of that, it can be quite discouraging. I think in some instances, it goes much too far.’” (San Francisco Chronicle)
  5. Brookfield’s New West Side Development Banks on Big Appetite for Dining “For all the attention that has been paid to Hudson Yards as a major future dining destination on Manhattan’s far West Side, it turns out the development may face some competition from its neighbor to the east, Manhattan West. This past week, Brookfield Properties, the developer of the $4.5 billion Manhattan West project, and Union Square Hospitality Group, the prominent New York-based restaurant company headed by Danny Meyer, announced plans for a dining spot at the mixed-use complex.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  6. These Lowe’s Stores Are Closing in the Next Three Months “Lowe’s Companies said Monday that it will close 51 underperforming stores and other locations, including 20 stores in the U.S., as part of its plan to focus on its most profitable stores. The stores being closed in the U.S. are located across 13 states. In Canada, 27 stores are being closed are across five provinces. The company is also closing four offices and specialty facilities in Canada. The home improvement retailer expects the store closures to be completed by Feb. 1, 2019, which is the end of its fiscal 2018.” (MarketWatch)
  7. A Struggling Desert Town Bets its Future on Pot “Almost every block in Needles has a run-down building like the old Relax Inn, which is being converted into a cannabis growing facility. Or a new building going up for manufacturing oils and edibles. If all the projects pan out, local officials hope they will generate more jobs — an estimated 2,100 — than Needles has altogether right now. ‘You would be hard-pressed to find someone in town who their brother, uncle, sister, aunt, cousin or themselves isn’t involved in the industry,’ Rick Daniels, the city manager, said in an interview at Needle’s single-story City Hall.” (The New York Times)
  8. WeWork Launches New Global Real Estate Strategic Partnership Division “Top CBRE producer Sarah Pontius has started working today at WeWork, leading the company’s just-established global real estate partnerships division, Commercial Observer has learned. She is a senior vice president and the global head of the division. Pontius, based in WeWork’s Manhattan headquarters, will be building the team for the new business line. First up: hiring regional heads in the U.S. East (likely based in New York City), U.S. West (likely based in Los Angeles or San Francisco), Europe (likely based in London), Pacific (based in Singapore), Japan (based in Tokyo), and Latin American (based in São Paulo, Brazil), per a company spokesman.” (Commercial Observer)
  9. As Markets Tank, These Real Estate Investment Trusts Hit Higher Highs “Real estate investment trusts -- also known as REIT's -- outperformed the markets by a wide margin last week. As a matter of fact, while many big stocks were hitting yearly lows, some REIT's managed to establish higher highs. These stocks vary widely when it comes to underlying financials. Some have high p/e's and low dividend yields and others have low p/e's and high yields.” (Forbes)
  10. Without Toys ‘R’ Us, One Iconic International Chain Could Soon Make its Mark in the U.S. “Without Toys R Us, an $11 billion toy industry has been left with no clear market leader. Companies like Target, Walmart, Amazon and Kohl's are trying this holiday season to sell more toys to kids and their parents, but the verdict is still out for which company will best fill the void that Toys R Us left behind. Seeing a huge opportunity, one iconic, international toy retailer could soon make its first move into the U.S. with a flagship location in New York, and plans for a wider rollout of stores to follow.” (CNBC)
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