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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (July 15, 2020)

Federal Reserve officials appear to brace for a prolonged recession, according to Forbes. Biotech properties are attracting a lot of investor interest in a pandemic, reports the Wall Street Journal. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Top Federal Reserve Officials Are Starting to Brace for a Prolonged Recession “Policymakers at the Federal Reserve, after some initial optimism that the Covid-19 slump would be deep but confined to the second quarter of this year, now seem braced for a more prolonged recession marked by high unemployment and a rising risk of corporate bankruptcies. Top officials have launched what appears to be a coordinated shift in tune in public remarks over the last couple weeks, particularly as the prospect of a worsening second wave of infections that could deal yet another blow to an already fragile economy becomes reality.” (Forbes)
  2. Biotech Properties Draw Billions of Dollars as Other Real Estate Languishes “Covid-19 is clobbering hotels, shopping centers and senior housing communities. But the pandemic is providing an extra boost to landlords leasing to biotechnology, pharmaceutical and other life-sciences businesses. Those owners were already doing a lot of business with companies working on health problems like diabetes and cancer. Now, they are seeing strong demand from companies working to find a cure for Covid-19. And while work-from-home policies are crimping demand for office space, life-science lab work can’t be as easily replicated remotely.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  3. OCC Head Says U.S. Banks Can’t Use the Pandemic as Reasoning to Ramp Up Branch Closures “The US government has encouraged banks to play their part in cushioning the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis, and it has relaxed some regulations to do so, such as temporarily raising Wells Fargo's asset cap. But Brooks' comments to the FT suggest that these aren't long-term changes, and that maintaining branch access in particular will remain under the microscope even after the situation stabilizes. To stay on regulators' good side, banks may fall in line and not try to accelerate branch closures despite moves to digital.” (Business Insider)
  4. Lenders Traverse the Coronavirus Tunnel “Commercial real estate financing is more volatile now than at any time since the Great Recession due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Still, there’s activity—and it involves lenders taking as much care as many of their potential customers.” (Commercial Observer)
  5. With Play on Pause, Sports Teams Forge Ahead with Real Estate Projects “American sports teams are doubling down on ambitious real-estate projects, despite the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down most live entertainment from coast to coast. This summer, the owner of the Los Angeles Angels baseball team laid out a master plan for 150 acres of apartments, restaurants and retail surrounding the team’s Anaheim, Calif., stadium. A venture of the St. Louis Cardinals and Cordish Co. is set to open a newly constructed apartment tower in the coming weeks, featuring in-unit views of games at Busch Stadium below.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  6. Going ‘Deep Green,’ Office Buildings Give Back to the Planet “For a couple of decades, many in the real estate industry have been trying to make buildings ‘green,’ replacing conventionally made materials with sustainable ones and installing energy-efficient systems. Buildings have a heavy environmental footprint, so the upshot of all this tinkering has been structures that are less harmful to the planet. Now some developers are going further with “deep green” buildings that are actually good for it.” (The New York Times)
  7. 7 Ways Property Managers Can Streamline Back-Office Operations “With an economic downturn looming, the market is poised to shift in favor of buyers and renters. To navigate the changing commercial real estate market, your residential property management company must embrace technology and efficiently manage its costs and working capital. That starts with streamlining back-office operations.” (
  8. Tulane University Threatens Expulsion for Partygoers as Schools Struggle to Keep Students Safe from Coronavirus “Tulane is banning all parties or gatherings of more than 15 people as the private college tries to protect students and staff against spreading the coronavirus. Violators will risk suspension or expulsion, Woodley said.” (CNBC)
  9. Hines Signs 250 KSF Lease at Texas’ Tallest Building “A global financial services firm has signed a 250,000-square-foot lease at Texas’ tallest building in downtown Houston. Hines inked the agreement with its new tenant at 600 Travis St. while also working on a number of major renovations to the office building’s exterior plaza, lobby and common areas.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  10. What It’s Like to Work in an NYC Restaurant During the Pandemic, According to Staffers “Eater spoke to workers across the city to get an on-the-ground perspective of what it’s like returning to work for restaurant industry staffers in the middle of a pandemic. All spoke under the condition of anonymity, to avoid reprisal from their employers or, in some cases, the government.” (Eater)
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