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

Nashville keeps attracting young people with high-paying jobs and hip reputation, reports The New York Times. Top Sears executives will get a total of more than $25 million in bonuses this year, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Nashville’s Star Rises as Midsize Cities Break into Winners and Losers “Forty years ago, Nashville and Birmingham, Ala., were peers. Two hundred miles apart, the cities anchored metropolitan areas of just under one million people each and had a similar number of jobs paying similar wages. Not anymore. The population of the Nashville area has roughly doubled, and young people have flocked there, drawn by high-paying jobs as much as its hip ‘Music City’ reputation. Last month, the city won an important consolation prize in the competition for Amazon’s second headquarters: an operations center that will eventually employ 5,000 people at salaries averaging $150,000 a year.” (The New York Times)
  2. The Saddest Santa This Christmas Is a Mall Santa “Rick Moody says he arrives early for his shifts as Santa at the Auburn Mall, puts on his red suit, settles into his oversize chair in center court and starts ‘working the crowd.’ In a mall where Santa’s stage is ringed by vacant storefronts, sometimes there is no crowd. Luckily, there is no clause against reading when he doesn’t see much foot traffic. ‘I have a book for when it’s really, really slow,’ the 61-year-old mall Santa says, pointing to a Western paperback titled ‘Straight Outta Tombstone’ tucked behind Christmassy coloring books he keeps in a red basket by his throne.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  3. Opportunity Zone Knocks: Kushner-Linked Firm Buys Hot Real Estate Under Program for Poor “A real estate investment firm co-founded by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, is betting big on the administration’s Opportunity Zone tax breaks but isn’t that interested in steering its investors to the poorest, most-downtrodden areas that the program seeks to revitalize. New York-based Cadre, in which Kushner still holds at least a $25 million passive stake, made it clear to potential investors in recent marketing materials that it doesn’t plan to look for development deals in most of those zones because of their ‘unfavorable growth prospects.’” (USA Today)
  4. Angelo’s Crashes: Former Countrywide Boss Dodges Blame for Housing Bust “Rising interest rates have made life tough for mortgage brokers lately, many of whom are being forced out of the business, so a reminder of the good old days naturally cheered them up. That would be fine except for the fact that it wasn’t memories of last year but of the era of rampant abuses and multibillion-dollar settlements. Former Countrywide Financial boss Angelo Mozilo last week received a standing ovation at the National Association of Mortgage Brokers meeting in Las Vegas, according to mortgage professional Jeff Lazerson.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  5. Sears Gets Bankruptcy Court Approval for Up to $25.3 Million in Bonuses to Top Employees “A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge signed off Friday on Sears’ request to pay up to $25.3 million in bonuses to top executives and other high-ranking employees even as the company reported losing nearly $1.9 billion in the first three quarters this year. Sears Holdings Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection in October, said it needs to able to offer the extra cash to encourage key employees to stick with the company as it attempts to restructure, according to court filings.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
  6. The 8 Things You Need to Know to Avoid Losing Money in Real Estate “We all know those people who frequently lament their decision to invest in real estate. Constantly blaming the market, or real estate as an industry, they believe the entire process is predicated on luck and timing, an exercise in chance. For people who have lost money investing, it’s easy to sympathize with them-but are their beliefs regarding results being beyond their control actually accurate? Many who bought property between 2001 and 2007 lost money.” (Forbes)
  7. State Street Store Space Fetches $26 Million “As one New York real estate investor trims its holdings on State Street, another one is moving in on the Loop shopping strip. Thor Equities Group sold a two-level retail space at the northwest corner of State and Monroe streets to Jenel Real Estate in a $26 million deal, according to a statement from Thor. The 18,800-square-foot space is fully leased to retail tenants Verizon, T-Mobile and Blick Art Materials. ‘After upgrading and improving its value in the market, we felt the time was right to sell this highly desirable asset located in the heart of the Chicago Loop,’ Thor Chairman Joseph Sitt said in the statement.” (Crain’s Chicago Business)
  8. One Economist’s Take on What Could Disrupt the CRE Markets “CCIM Institute Chief Economist K.C. Conway is not optimistic that the commercial real estate finance markets will continue to operate smoothly in the mid term. Rather, he writes in a recently-released white paper, the probability of a CRE finance disruption in the next six to 18 months is as elevated as it was prior to 2007-2008. The question, therefore, is not if or when, but how this disruption will occur. To be sure, it may seem hard to envision how the currently robust CRE capital markets could come to a halt, but Conway posits that a confluence of events are poised to do just that.” (
  9. Bedrock Breaks Ground on $820M Detroit Mixed-Use “Monroe Blocks, an $830 million mixed-use project in Detroit, has moved one major step toward realization. Bedrock has broken ground on the 1.4 million-square-foot development, which will play a key role in the ongoing revitalization of the downtown Detroit area. Ultimately, Monroe Blocks will comprise 847,000 square feet of office space, roughly 482 residential units, 117,000 square feet of retail offerings and 1.5 acres of public open space. Bedrock has brought aboard Turner Construction to serve as general contractor and expects to complete the project in 2022.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  10. SF to Developer Who Tore Down Landmark House: Rebuild It Exactly as It Was “A property owner who illegally demolished a 1936 Twin Peaks house designed by a renowned modernist must rebuild an exact replica of the home rather than the much larger structure the property owner had proposed replacing it with, the City Planning Commission ruled this week. In a unanimous 5-0 vote late Thursday night, the commission also ordered that the property owner — Ross Johnston, through his 49 Hopkins LLC — include a sidewalk plaque telling the story of the original house designed by architect Richard Neutra, the demolition and the replica.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
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