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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (January 13, 2017)

10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (January 13, 2017)


  1. US contractors gearing up for Trump spending windfall “American contractors are getting their shovels ready for the incoming Trump administration and they plan to boost payrolls to take on new projects. Some 3 out of 4 U.S. construction firms expect to increase head count this year, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage Construction and Real Estate. The bullish outlook is apparently based on high hopes that Donald Trump will make good on campaign promises to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending on new infrastructure projects. But with the labor markets tight in many parts of the country, contractors report they're having a hard time finding people to fill those new jobs.” (CNBC)
  2. Foreign Investment in U.S. Property to Remain Strong in 2017, China Top Investor “According to CBRE Group, the outlook in 2017 for U.S. commercial real estate capital markets --encompassing debt and equity investment activity, pricing and performance, as well as investment strategy -- continues to be favorable. ‘Acquisitions activity should remain high in 2017, if slightly lower than the previous year. Global capital flows into the U.S. are expected to remain very strong, with China again the leading source. Most types of debt capital should remain widely available. As asset appreciation abates, investment returns are likely to decline, but nevertheless still achieve favorable levels,’ said Chris Ludeman, Global President, Capital Markets, CBRE. The interest rate environment is one of the largest influences on real estate capital markets. With the U.S. economy continuing to expand, the Federal Reserve Board is likely to engage in three rounds of monetary tightening, increasing short-term rates in 2017. Longer-term interest rates should remain stable or increase only modestly. The 10-year Treasury yield is expected to remain between 2.25 percent and 2.75 percent throughout 2017. Investor demand for the inherent safety of U.S. debt should continue to offset upward pressure on long-term yields from the Fed and the prospect of higher inflation.” (World Property Journal)
  3. What's ahead: Fewer apartment starts forecast for 2017 “Almost 50,000 apartments are being built in North Texas. And nationwide, developers got permits to start an estimated 383,000 multifamily housing units in 2016. Still, after a half-dozen years of rising construction, the apartment building binge shows signs of flattening in 2017, top housing economists say. ‘We are seeing a leveling off of production,’ said Robert Denk, a forecaster for the National Association of Home Builders. ‘I think we are pretty much done.’ Multifamily home starts — 90 percent of which are apartments — dipped by a hair in 2016, according to the Washington, D.C.-based builders trade association.” (Dallas Morning News)
  4. J.C. Penney’s CEO Admits It Will Close Some Stores “J.C. Penney (JCP, -2.52%) won't escape the store closing cycle this year after all. The department store chain, which has been outperforming rivals like Macy's (M, -0.77%) and Kohl's (KSS, -0.77%) for a couple of years, is evaluating its store fleet right now and planning to shutter a few of its 1,014 stores. The modest plan stands in sharp contrast to Macy's plans to close 68 stores this year (for a total of 100 in the coming years) and Sears' (SHLD, -1.14%) years-long shriveling. And this past weekend, The Limited said it was closing its entire store fleet altogether.” (Fortune)
  5. Amazon's hiring spree could signal bigger physical store ambitions “As Amazon prepares to add 100,000 U.S. workers, one retail analyst says the hiring spree could indicate that it's ready to hit the accelerator on its physical store expansion. In its announcement Thursday, Amazon said ‘many’ of the roles it plans to fill will be in new fulfillment centers. It specifically outlined the addition of some 18,000 of jobs tied to these locations, in states from New Jersey to Texas. Other roles will benefit areas like "cloud technology, machine learning and advanced logistics," CEO Jeff Bezos detailed. Yet for KeyBanc analyst Ed Yruma, that still leaves a ‘significant and unexplained gap.’” (CNBC)
  6. Michigan Mall struggles to fill Macy’s hole “The new owner of the 550,000-sq.-ft. Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek, Michigan, finds itself in a common quandary among property owners today -- launching an all-points search for retailers to fill the hole left by a closing Macy’s. GK Development spokesperson Marianne Fasano told that the company is investigating ‘multiple scenarios’ to fill the 102,000-sq.-ft. Macy’s space and reinvigorate the mall. ‘That includes an aggressive leasing effort to attract other national brand retailers to the shopping center,’ she said. Commercial real estate broker Jodi Milks told the local news site that losing Macy's will be a big challenge for Lakeview Square Mall, which she said has struggled in recent years.” (Chain Store Age)
  7. Did developer-linked donations violate campaign finance laws? State watchdog agency will investigate “A state agency that enforces campaign finance laws has launched an investigation in response to a Times report on political donations connected to the developer of a Harbor Gateway apartment project. A spokesman for the Fair Political Practices Commission said the agency opened its probe after receiving a letter from a Times reader, who pointed to the newspaper’s investigation into donors with ties to Samuel Leung, developer of the 352-unit Sea Breeze project. The reader asked the agency to look into whether donors mentioned in the story had violated campaign finance laws. FPPC spokesman Jay Wierenga declined to provide further details, saying that the commission does not comment on open investigations. The Times reported in October that donors linked directly or indirectly to Leung gave more than $600,000 to support 11 L.A.-area politicians as Sea Breeze was being reviewed at Los Angeles City Hall. Several people who are listed as campaign contributors said they could not remember making those donations or denied doing so.” (The Los Angeles Times)
  8. A bridge more traveled “Westchester commuters, rejoice! After years of delays, the process of replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge — long a serious bottleneck between Westchester and Rockland counties— is moving along at a steady clip toward its debut in 2018. Decking on one side of the 3.1-mile conduit is virtually complete, and the last of the bridge’s eight 419-foot main span towers topped off in December. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo commemorated the completion of that stage with a press conference held on the new Hudson River crossing, called the New NY Bridge, during which he said the project “sends a powerful message to the world that nothing is too big or too difficult for the Empire State.” The other message is one of relief for drivers who long ago stopped questioning whether there was a traffic jam on the 61-year-old bridge, but only how bad it was. With narrow lanes and no emergency shoulders, the bridge has an accident rate twice as high as the rest of New York State’s 574-mile Thruway system.” (The Real Deal)
  9. $150M High-Rise DC Office Asset Changes Hands “Carr Properties recently acquired a 190,345-square-foot Class A office building in Washington, D.C. Shorenstein Properties sold 1875 K St., NW, for $150 million, according to Yardi Matrix data. The LEED Gold-certified asset is located in the heart of Washington’s central business district. Situated at the corner of 19th and K streets, the 12-story property is anchored by tenants such as Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, WeWork, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, and Shipman & Goodwin LLP. 1875 K St. features between 14,000- and 17,000-square-foot floorplates. Common area amenities include controlled access, 102 parking spaces and a 4,000-square-foot fitness center.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  10. Genting’s bayfront land not for sale, says executive “Don’t expect to see a ‘for sale’ sign on Genting’s downtown Miami bayfront land previously owned by the Miami Herald. ‘They aren’t interested in selling it, to my knowledge,’ said Crystal Cruises President and CEO Edie Rodriguez when asked at a press event Wednesday at PortMiami. No development plans for the site have been announced, but Genting has contracted with Art Miami, a December art fair, to be located on the site for the next several years. As for Genting, “they have the luxury of time,” said Rodriguez, referring to the publicly traded company’s deep financial reserves. Genting purchased Crystal in May 2015. Since then, the luxury cruise line has announced ship upgrades to its existing two-ship fleet, added a luxury expedition yacht, announced a river cruise line launching this year and created a luxury air service. It also purchased five shipyards that are building additional expedition yachts, river cruise ships and ocean-going ships that will include a deck of condo residences.” (Miami Herald)
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