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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (Feb. 20, 2020)

D Magazine looks at what commercial real estate investors want in today’s market. California lawmakers are looking at new legislation meant to reduce the number of empty homes in the state, reports San Francisco Chronicle. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. U.S. Housing Starts Fall, Building Permits Near 13-Year HighU.S. homebuilding fell less than expected in January while permits surged to a near 13-year high, pointing to sustained housing market strength that could help keep the longest economic expansion in history on track. Other data on Wednesday showed producer prices increasing by the most in more than one year last month, boosted by rises in the cost of services such as healthcare and hotel accommodation.” (Reuters)
  2. Fed Focused on Coronavirus Fallout at January Meeting “Federal Reserve officials left interest rates unchanged at their January meeting as the economy grew steadily, but they spent their meeting reviewing risks to the outlook — including fresh concerns about the coronavirus that had begun to take hold in China. Minutes from the Fed’s Jan. 28 and 29 meeting showed that officials called the new coronavirus ‘a new risk to the global growth outlook.’” (The New York Times)
  3. What Real Estate Investors Really, Really Want “Appealing to commercial real estate investors used to be less complicated. They wanted significant buildings in top-tier cities with great locations at minimal capital costs filled with AAA-rated tenants. They still want those things, but now they are eyeing cities that were once considered ‘secondary’ markets and factoring in something like the tenant experience, smart building technologies, placement within a broader ‘smart’ neighborhood context, and sustainable development concepts.” (D Magazine)
  4. Housing Crisis: Legislation Inspired by Homeless Oakland Moms Aims to Fill Vacant Homes “Inspired by a group of homeless Oakland mothers who took up residence in a vacant West Oakland home to call attention to California’s housing crisis, state legislation was introduced Wednesday that aims to reduce the number of empty homes in California and give tenants the first right of refusal to buy foreclosed properties.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
  5. A Googlopolis Grows in Toronto “What if Big Tech planned a city from scratch? That's the idea behind Quayside, a 12-acre plot of land on Toronto's eastern harbor. Earlier this month I visited the mostly vacant swatch of waterfront property where Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet's urban tech subsidiary, is designing what it hopes will be a data-driven, eco-friendly wonderland. Opponents, however, see the project as a disaster in the making.” (Fortune)
  6. How CRE Can Adapt to Climate Change “Mass urbanization and commercial real estate’s climate impact demand strong action by designers, urban planners and architects, developers and legislators around the world. It’s also a subject that Gensler has taken very seriously: the Gensler Cities Climate Challenge (GC3) outlines the firm’s commitment to design all their projects to net-zero standards by 2030; and addressed it in their recently released Design Forecast  ‘Shaping the Future of Cities.’” (
  7. RED Development Sells Majority Interest in Dallas Tower “JLL Capital Markets pulls double-duty at The Union Dallas mixed-use destination in Dallas, landing a buyer for the property’s 505,000-square-foot office and retail components on behalf of RED Development, and orchestrating acquisition financing for the new owner, Seoul-based KB Asset Management.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  8. Landscape Architects Shift Emphasis to the Ecosystem “Landscape architects are finding themselves on the front lines of the climate change crisis, having to come up with creative ways to adapt and help mitigate problems like rising oceans and extreme weather as they design projects across the country. ‘The focus on sustainability has been building slowly for a long time among landscape architects, but in recent years that commitment has really taken hold,’ says Jacquelyn Bianchini, a spokeswoman at the Washington, D.C.--based American Society of Landscape Architects.” (Associated Press)
  9. Hard Property Markets Weighs on Commercial Real Estate Firms “The hard property insurance market is weighing on insureds across the world, with Marsh reporting that average pricing for commercial property risks increased 30% in Q4 of 2019. Within this space, the middle market commercial real estate space – which includes the office and industrial retail sector as opposed to multifamily and habitational real estate – is especially challenged.” (Insurance Business America)
  10. Boy Scouts Own Property Worth Millions in NY. How Will Bankruptcy Affect the Camps? “With the Boy Scouts of America filing for bankruptcy protection Tuesday, dozens of camps and reservations owned by local Scouting councils throughout New York may soon face an uncertain future. The organization is expected to liquidate its assets to settle thousands of lawsuits claiming sexual abuse that have been filed in recent months.” (USA Today)
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