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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (July 26, 2018)

Some state and municipal officials have become wary of Chinese investments that are supposed to ignite local economies, the Wall Street Journal reports. Fortune looks at Fifth Wall Ventures’ take on the tokenization of real estate. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Chinese Deals Lose Luster for Officials Across the U.S. “Some states and cities in the U.S. are growing wary of Chinese investment after a deal boom that raised national-security concerns and failed to deliver promised jobs. Chinese developer Tan Zhixing rolled into rural Tyler, Texas, last September with a plan to spend $1.6 billion on a housing complex that promised to bring thousands of Chinese students to attend local schools and create more than 1,000 jobs for the surrounding county.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  2. China Vanke Agrees to Buy 5% Stake in Cushman Ahead of IPO “Ahead of its initial public offering, Cushman & Wakefield struck a deal to sell roughly 5 percent of the company’s shares to a unit of China’s largest real estate firm. Cushman agreed to sell 10.2 million shares in the company through a private placement deal to a unit of China Vanke based in Hong Kong, paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday shows. Vanke agreed to purchase the shares at whatever price the market sets when Cushman holds its public offering.” (The Real Deal)
  3. Why VC Firm Fifth Wall Ventures Is Bullish on the Tokenization of Real Estate “Fifth Wall Ventures has a pretty narrow investment thesis. It invests exclusively in startups focused on real estate technology across sectors such as hospitality, retail, and construction. It also invests in companies that it believes can benefit from its real estate knowledge and vast network. The firm, which launched last year, raised $212 million for its debut fund from a star-studded roster of investors, including CBRE, Prologis, Hines, Lennar, Host Hotels & Resorts, Equity Residential and Macerich Properties. Just last month, it held a first close on its second real estate tech fund, which has a target of $400 million.” (Fortune)
  4. Amazon Go: Four Things Retailers Can Learn “Walking into the new flagship Amazon Go store in Seattle is like walking into a giant vending machine, and about as personal. After unlocking the physical barrier to entry by scanning their designated app, shoppers are free to roam around the store, pick up food, and simply walk out. Is this the start of a retail revolution? The end of the long and frustrating checkout line? Since Amazon first introduced its “just walk out” payment technology earlier this year, several other retailers have announced plans for similar platforms.” (Chain Store Age)
  5. What Is an Office? Dallas’ Common Desk Buys Gym, Coffee Brand as Co-Working Chains Evolve “Nick Clark started his co-working company in Dallas in 2012 by opening a hip office space with desks for rent in Deep Ellum. But when he sought to expand recently, he looked to another kind of space — a local gym with black rubber floors, racks of hand weights and a loyal base of exercise enthusiasts. Dallas-based Common Desk bought Social Mechanics, a boutique gym with a single location on Lower Greenville, about two weeks ago. It bought an independent coffee shop in East Dallas in November and renamed it Fiction Coffee.” (Dallas Morning News)
  6. Done Chasing Millennials, J.C. Penney Tries to Win Back Moms “After spending the past few years chasing after millennials, J.C. Penney Co. executives say they are now focused on wooing another elusive group: middle-aged moms. The shift is the latest about-face for a retailer that has veered from one strategy to the next as it has cycled through three chief executives in nearly seven years. The company is on the hunt for another leader following the exit in May of Marvin Ellison, who left to become CEO of home-improvement chain Lowe’s Cos.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  7. The State of the (Construction) Union “To hire union or to go open shop, that is the question — at least for many developers. While that has long been a loaded question, it’s never been more fraught with political ramifications and controversy than it is now. With razor-thin margins in a market marked by softness and uncertainty, nonunion and open shops (those that employ both union and nonunion workers) seem to be eating up market share from union hardhats.” (The Real Deal)
  8. RadioShack to Open 100 Express Locations “Consumer electronics retailer RadioShack has announced that it will open more than 100 express locations across the U.S. Founded in 1921, the company filed for bankruptcy in March 2017, two years after a previous bankruptcy filing. More recently, the company has focused on e-commerce and has grown to more than 400 dealer locations. Last week, it announced a partnership with HobbyTown, a hobby and toy retailer, which will bring RadioShack-branded merchandise to 60 HobbyTown franchise locations.” (MarketWatch)
  9. Report Says Twin Cities Commercial Real Estate Outpaced Expectations in First Half “Office, industrial and retail space continues to be filled in the Twin Cities even as companies consolidate their space and some retailers close stores. According to real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield's biannual Compass report, absorption of multitenant properties in the first half of the year outpaced projections, bringing the area's vacancy rate to 10.6 percent at the end of June, slightly better than the 10.8 percent vacancy rate reported for the same time last year.” (Star Tribune)
  10. The Ascent of Climbing Gyms and Battle for Post-Industrial Real Estate “For fans of climbing gyms, part of the appeal is the sense of spatial transformation. On the walls that tower over many of the industrial-spaces-turned-gyms that have become home to this fast-growing sport, routes to the top often change every few weeks, with hand holds and grips rotated out and reconfigured. That feeling of change is familiar to the companies and entrepreneurs seeking to build new gyms to take advantage of the sport’s expanding popularity. Regardless of fitness trends, indoor climbing has a unique relationship with real estate due to the high ceilings and expansive space needed for new facilities.” (Curbed)
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