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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (April 17, 2018)

New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley discounted the possibility of more than four interest rate increases in 2018, according to CNBC. The New York Times looks at the risks earthquake-prone San Francisco is taking with the proliferation of tall buildings. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Fed’s Dudley: More Than Four Interest Rate Hikes Unlikely This Year “The Federal Reserve remains on track to raise interest rates three or four times in 2018, but any more than that would be unlikely, New York Fed President William Dudley said Monday. Market speculation has intensified over how aggressive the central bank will be this year on its path to normalizing monetary policy. Current expectations are for three increases, though traders are watching the trajectory of economic growth and inflation.” (CNBC)
  2. U.S. Housing Starts Rise on Apartment Buildings “U.S. housing starts rose in March, an increase that could signal firming conditions in the housing market as apartment building rose. Housing starts increased 1.9% in March from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.319 million, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Residential building permits, which can signal how much construction is in the pipeline, rose 2.5% to an annual pace of 1.354 million last month.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  3. San Francisco’s Big Seismic Gamble “San Francisco lives with the certainty that the Big One will come. But the city is also putting up taller and taller buildings clustered closer and closer together because of the state’s severe housing shortage. Now those competing pressures have prompted an anxious rethinking of building regulations. Experts are sending this message: The building code does not protect cities from earthquakes nearly as much as you might think.” (The New York Times)
  4. The End of Bon-Ton? Only Two Bids for Parent of Boston Store, Younkers Come from Liquidators “The only two bids at the start of a bankruptcy auction for department store chain Bon-Ton Stores Inc. were from liquidators, signaling the end for a company that at one time was part of the backbone of Wisconsin’s retail industry, according to reports Tuesday morning. Reuters, citing two sources familiar with the matter, said Bon-Ton will go out of business without a bid from a going-concern bidder.” (Journal Sentinel)
  5. The Retail Real Estate Glut Is Getting Worse “The fall of the Toys “R” Us chain, with more than 700 U.S. stores, shows how much retail real estate has changed in just the last decade. When KKR & Co., Bain Capital, and Vornado Realty Trust took over the company in 2005, the buyers justified the $7.5 billion price, in part, because of the supposedly valuable properties that came with the deal.” (Bloomberg Businessweek)
  6. Billionaire Real Estate Developer: Getting Fired Was the Best Thing That Happened to Me “Ross's first job in New York was with Laird, a securities brokerage firm. It didn't last long. ‘They were having problems, and I was released, if you will,’ Ross said. He got a new job at Bear Stearns. That didn't work out either. At the investment bank, Ross clashed with a superior who didn't want Ross to take charge of a project Ross had been working on. Ross lost his temper. ‘Let's put it this way, I told him to f---himself,’ he recalled. ‘So I caused my own firing.’” (CNN Money)
  7. This Start-Up Could Finally Bring Real Estate into the Blockchain Era “Real estate transactions move at a snail’s pace in the U.S., with ownership tracked on pieces of paper. But crypto startup Harbor thinks it has found a way to turn real estate into a liquid asset with digital, tokenized securities. The San Francisco company announced $28 million in new investment, led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. Andreessen Horowitz and crypto investment firms Pantera Capital and Craft Ventures also invested. Harbor had already secured $10 million in funding in February, and it has collected $40 million to date.” (Forbes)
  8. L.A., Long a Destination for Young People, Is Becoming Increasingly Out of Reach “Four years ago, Chelsea Lutz moved to Los Angeles from Cleveland to pursue a career writing and directing films. ‘I needed a really cheap apartment,’ she said. She found one in Koreatown, where she didn't particularly want to live, but it was all she could afford. Today, Lutz, 28, shares a rent-controlled, one-bedroom apartment in the Miracle Mile area with her fiance. ‘My rent's expensive, but it's not crazy expensive,’ Lutz said. ‘But eventually I want to get a house and that's worrisome because I want to be close to my job.’” (Los Angeles Times)
  9. You’ll Soon Be Able to Get a Tattoo at Saks Fifth Avenue “A Lower East Side tattoo parlor is opening a new outpost — in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue. Rivington Tattoo, which caters to rockers, athletes and Fortune 500 billionaires, will start inking customers later this month in a specially designed display at the tony department store’s lower Manhattan location. ‘It’s live theater,’ said Wass Stevens, who runs the tattoo shop along with co-owner Ethan Morgan.” (New York Post)
  10. Massachusetts Court Case May Provide Transparency on Wynn Casino Deal “As Wynn Resorts (Wynn) continues construction on its $2.5 billion casino in Everett, MA (just outside Boston), a case is winding its way through Suffolk County (Massachusetts) Superior Court that could provide some insights into how this deal came together. Judge Mitchell Kaplan is expected to rule this month on a case involving the land sale transaction between Wynn Resort and FBT Everett Realty LLC (FBT), a small three person MA limited liability company.” (Forbes)
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