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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry (February 6, 2019)

Sears and Kmart employees asked the bankruptcy judge in Sears’ case to protect their interests, reports USA Today. It’s getting harder and harder for Americans to become homebuyers, according to MarketWatch. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Trump Calls on Congress to Act on Aging Infrastructure Needs “President Donald Trump asked U.S. Congress in his State of the Union address on Tuesday to pass legislation to boost the nation’s aging infrastructure, without providing details on how to go about paying for it or how much it would cost. Trump, who vowed in 2016 as a candidate to back $1 trillion of infrastructure spending over 10 years, was vague about his plans. ‘Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,’ Trump said in his speech.” (Reuters)
  2. Online Retailers Set Up Shop in Newfangled Manhattan Mall “The first thing I did when visiting Showfields, the new, four-story, self-proclaimed ‘Most Interesting Store in the World,’ in Manhattan was try a new toothbrush. A sales rep selling electric toothbrush kits for dental care startup Quip donned plastic gloves, squirted paste onto a new brush head and waited patiently as I buzzed the device around in my mouth until its two-minute timer went off. ‘How does it feel?’ she asked. ‘It feels like I brushed my teeth,’ I said.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  3. It’s Not Getting Any Easier to Buy a House, and More Americans May Just Give Up “At the end of 2017, 27% of prospective home buyers thought their house hunt would get easier in the months ahead, but by the end of last year, that number had dropped to 19%. Over the same period of time, the share of people saying they planned to buy a home in the next 12 months fell from 24% to 13%. Those two measurements characterize what might be the housing market’s biggest headwind right now. There’s a litany of hurdles for any would-be buyer to overcome, from rising mortgage rates to a lack of affordable supply. But taken together, they may make it too hard for many people to buy a home.” (MarketWatch)
  4. Sears, Kmart Employees to Bankruptcy Judge: Don’t Let Sears ‘Be a Pawn in Lampert’s Game’ “A group of current and former employees of Sears Holdings exhorted a federal bankruptcy judge to meet with them and force the retailer to make concessions as it pursues a last-minute deal to save itself in shrunken form. The employees, who have organized their campaign through an action group called Rise Up Retail, sent a letter to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain asking him to take steps to protect their interests. Sears has closed more than 3,500 stores and cut about 250,000 jobs in roughly the last 15 years as sales cratered, leading to the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in October.’ (USA Today)
  5. Chinese Development Company in Hot Water over Unpaid Common Charges “A Chinese company that developed a luxury condominium on the Brooklyn waterfront owed over $250,000 in common charges, putting the board’s finances into unchartered territory. The Oosten, a 216-unit Brooklyn high-rise, was touted in 2015 when Dutch architect Piet Boon designed his first US building. It has an interior garden, roof deck, a spa, townhomes and a prime location in Williamsburg at 429 Kent Ave. Its Chinese developer, Xin Development, is the subsidiary of Beijing-based Xinyuan Real Estate Co., an NYSE-listed company that will report earnings on Friday.” (New York Post)
  6. Ruby Schron Finds $690M Financing for Troubled National Portfolio “Credit Suisse has contributed a $335 million mortgage to an overall $690.2 million refinancing package for a portfolio of 83 U.S. senior-living facilities, according to documents published last week by Canada’s DBRS credit-rating agency. The borrower in the commercial mortgage-backed securities deal, real estate investor Rubin Schron, is set to use the proceeds to partially refinance prior CMBS debt on the portfolio that dates to 2016, the rating agency said.” (Commercial Observer)
  7. Seniors Are to Blame for Housing Shortage, Study Finds “Millions of senior citizens are staying in their homes longer than their predecessors in earlier generations, keeping homes off the market and making it more difficult for younger Americans to break into ownership. According to an analysis from economists at Freddie Mac, 1.1 million homes have been ‘held off the market’ by owners born between 1931 and 1941, and another 300,000 by those born between 1942 and 1947. Another 250,000 homes are still being occupied by their baby boomer owners – those born between 1948 and 1958 – although most analysts believe there’s a big wave of boomer retirements ahead that may change the aging-in-place dynamic quantified so far.” (MarketWatch)
  8. Global Commercial Real Estate Investment in 2018 Enjoys Best Year Since 2007 “Global real estate consultant JLL is reporting this week that despite rising global uncertainty impacting Q4 investment, 2018 was the best year since 2007 for global commercial real estate markets, with volumes hitting $733 billion. Regional performance throughout the year was led by the Americas where outperformance was driven by the U.S. APAC bounced back from a relatively slow third quarter to hit a new all-time full-year high, while EMEA saw investment sales activity drop, despite growth in some core markets.” (World Property Journal)
  9. CBRE Acquires Global Data Tech Center Company “CBRE Group is adding to its data center advisory business with the acquisition of U.K.-based Romonet, an advanced analytics software company that provides technology and consulting services for large global data centers. Founded by data center technology pioneers Zahl Limbuwala and Liam Newcombe in 2008, the firm serves clients around the world. Romonet, which uses cloud-based technology to unlock efficiencies and increase capacity at data centers, will be integrated into CBRE’s global Data Center Solutions offering. Romonet’s team will be joining CBRE as part of the deal.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  10. 2 of the Top 5 U.S. Hotels Are in Chicago, Report Says “The city’s Four Seasons Hotel placed fifth in the nation. That’s a little lower than in 2018, when the Four Seasons took home the bronze. Overall, Four Seasons properties dominated the tippy top of the list, announced by U.S. News on Tuesday, with Hawaii’s Four Seasons Resort Hualalai being dubbed the best of them all. Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club in Surfside, Fla., and Four Seasons Resort Lanai in Hawaii — last year’s winner — slotted in at third and fourth place, respectively.” (Chicago Tribune)
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