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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (January 10, 2019)

Google is expanding its office space in San Francisco, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Hundreds of store closures might be necessary to turn around J.C. Penney, according to MarketWatch. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Fed Ready for Pause on Interest Rate Increases “A pair of influential Federal Reserve officials said Wednesday that the central bank should pause to assess economic conditions before considering additional increases in its benchmark interest rate, reinforcing the message delivered last week by the Fed chairman, Jerome H. Powell. The Fed on Wednesday also published an account of its most recent meeting, in December, which showed Fed officials already had reached a similar conclusion at that time.” (The New York Times)
  2. Google Expands Again in SF with Financial District Tower Deal “Google’s search results have led to even more San Francisco real estate. The tech giant leased 190,000 square feet — room for more than 1,200 employees — at One Maritime Plaza in the north Financial District, the company confirmed this week. Google signed the deal in December, its third San Francisco office expansion of 2018, and employees will start moving into the tower in 2020.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
  3. More Closures Loom for JC Penney, as One Analyst Says More Than 100 Stores Still Need to Shut “It looks like there are more store closures looming in J.C. Penney’s future. The department store chain Tuesday said it would be closing three locations by this spring, as it continues to evaluate its real estate. It didn’t disclose the addresses of those three stores or how many additional stores it planned to close in 2019, but said it would offer more information in its next earnings report slated for Feb. 28. With more than 860 J.C. Penney shops scattered across the U.S. today, analysts agree there’s more trimming to be done.” (MarketWatch)
  4. Washington’s Strong Economy, Financed by Taxpayers, Takes a Hit from Shutdown “As the country nears the end of its third week of a government shutdown, the consequences of Washington’s political dysfunction are landing right on the city’s doorstep. The Washington metro area is home to the largest number of federal workers in the country, and as their paychecks begin to stop, the negative effects threaten to spread across the region. This is an unusual problem for a region that boasts one of the country’s richest, strongest economies, powered by government spending and a large, stable federal work force.” (The New York Times)
  5. D-F Office Leasing Surged in the Fourth Quarter “Dallas-Fort Worth office activity jumped in the fourth quarter with almost 1 million square feet of net leasing. That put the total for the year at about 2 million square feet - down from almost 2.7 million square feet of net leasing in 2017, according to the latest numbers from commercial property firm CBRE. ‘2018 ended on a high note for D-FW, with net absorption surpassing the first three quarters of the year,’ CBRE analysts said in a new report.” (Dallas Morning News)
  6. HNA’s Fast Fall from Grace “The guest list for the China General Chamber of Commerce USA’s annual gala is a who’s who of Chinese and American business royalty. In mid-January, Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman, Brookfield’s Ric Clark, Bank of China’s Xu Chen and Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai — to name a few — rubbed shoulders at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in Midtown. But the real star of the show was a man rarely seen on Manhattan’s black-tie party circuit: HNA Group’s chairman and co-founder, Chen Feng.” (The Real Deal)
  7. People First, Jobs Follow: Cause and Effect in Real Estate and its Impact on Affordability “Earlier this year, the U.S. Census Bureau shared its latest data concerning suburban population demographics from 2016 to 2017, revealing a trend that many had long suspected: As more big cities become less affordable, people are moving back to the suburbs. After several years of urban growth, America is once again seeing an urban flight to the suburbs. In 2017, New York City saw 143,000 people move out, making it the first time since 2007 that the city did not lead the country in population growth.” (Forbes)
  8. Dallas’ Vacant Timberlawn Hospital Campus Eyed for New Residential Neighborhood “Developers are buying a defunct Dallas mental hospital with plans to build a new residential neighborhood. Timberlawn Behavioral Health System psychiatric hospital campus on Samuel Boulevard east of downtown closed last year when state regulators threatened to shut down the facility. The almost 50-acre campus includes nine buildings constructed over more than 80 years, including a century-old neoclassical style house that was the original hospital.” (Dallas Morning News)
  9. Survey: The Top U.S. Grocery Retailers Are… “Trader Joe’s reigns supreme with consumers for the second year in a row. The specialty grocer had the overall consumer preference index score in an annual study by customer data science firm dunnhumby. Costco Wholesale came in second in the rankings, followed by Amazon, H-E-B and Wegmans Food Markets. (See end of article for more complete list.)” (Chain Store Age)
  10. Macy’s Shares Tank 17 Percent on Disappointing Holiday Sales “Shares of Macy’s plunged 17 percent in early trading on Thursday, after the department store operator cut same-store sales forecast for the crucial holiday quarter due to weak demand during mid-December. Sales from Macy’s stores and third-party licensees open for more than 12 months is now expected to grow about 2 percent, lower than a prior forecast of between 2.3 percent and 2.5 percent.” (New York Post)
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