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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (June 21, 2019)

Amazon launched a college storefront, reports MarketWatch. WeWork is being sued for age and gender discrimination, according to the Wall Street Journal. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Amazon Launches College-Focused Storefront “Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday that it has launched the ‘Off-to-College’ storefront that will sell items for student dorm rooms, Amazon devices, and more. The storefront will offer daily deals, with exclusive perks for Prime Student members. The Prime Student membership is $6.49 per month after a six-month trial, or $59 per year, also after the trial period, half the cost of a regular Prime membership. Amazon has partnered with Ava Phillippe, daughter of Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe,for suggestions on ‘Ava's List.’ Amazon also announced the expansion of AmazonFresh one- and two-hour delivery to Las Vegas.” (MarketWatch)
  2. Former WeWork Executives Allege Gender, Age Discrimination “WeWork Cos. is being sued by two former executives who are accusing the shared-office company of gender and age discrimination as it gears up for an initial public offering. On Thursday, a former senior vice president who oversaw compensation issues at the company said that an overwhelming number of large pay packages went to male executives. Earlier this month, a former construction executive alleged that he was unfairly replaced by someone younger. A spokesman for WeWork said the claims in the lawsuit filed Thursday are meritless and the company intends to fight them.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  3. Risk and Real Estate Investing: Perception Versus Reality “It’s no secret that I’m a real estate investor, so I get calls from people wanting me to invest in things all the time. On occasion, someone presents an opportunity to me that isn’t in real estate, and last week someone called me about investing in a movie. Now, this gentleman is a very successful producer. He hasn’t yet had a blockbuster per se, but if I named some of his movies it wouldn’t be surprising to me if you’d seen a couple, and if I named some of the people involved in the venture that he wants to fund, they would definitely ring a bell.” (Forbes)
  4. Architecture Billings Index Remains Flat in U.S. “According to a new report from The American Institute of Architects (AIA), demand for design services in May 2019 remained essentially flat in comparison to the previous month. AIA's Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for May 2019 showed a small increase in design services at 50.2, which is slightly down from 50.5 in April. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.  Both the project inquiries index and the design contracts index softened in May but remained positive.” (World Property Journal)
  5. Land Under Dream Downtown Hotel Sells for $175M “The land under the trendy Dream Downtown hotel in Chelsea has sold for $175 million — though it won’t affect the hotel’s operations, according to the hotel’s management company. The buyer of the hotel and retail condominium units at 355 West 16th Street was Worth Capital Holdings 52 LLC, with Charles R. Holzer as managing member, property records filed Friday with the New York City Department of Finance show.” (The Real Deal)
  6. Dallas Could Be Forced to Repay Millions to HUD After Latest Critical Housing Audit “As the result of a scathing audit released this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has warned Dallas City Hall it could be forced to repay millions related to housing projects funded with federal dollars. HUD's Office of Inspector General released the report after its investigators spent close to a year inside the City Hall's Housing department. The audit lambastes the city for failing to "effectively manage" or perform "due diligence" on its Community Housing Development Organizations, which are the private nonprofits that take federal money given to the city to build homes in their communities — often south of downtown.” (Dallas Morning News)
  7. Glenview Shopping Center Sells for a Loss “Supermarkets are supposed to be an island of stability in rough retail seas, but a recent deal in Glenview casts doubt on that narrative. LaSalle Investment Management last week sold Glen Gate, a 103,000-square-foot shopping center anchored by a Mariano’s store, for $42 million, according to Cook County property records. That represents a 16 percent drop in value from August 2015, when Chicago-based LaSalle paid $50 million for the property, at the corner of Waukegan and Golf roads in north suburban Glenview.” (Crain’s Chicago Business)
  8. Texas Tops the U.S. for Real Estate Development Spending and Jobs “For the second year in a row, Texas topped the nation in real estate development activity in 2018. With almost $26 billion in direct spending on real estate projects, the Texas building sector contributed more than $62 billion last year to the state's economy, according to a report from the NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.” (Dallas Morning News)
  9. Why Corporate Social Responsibility Matters in Commercial Real Estate “Real estate, at its heart, is about building communities. At the most basic level ,the physical property is the literal foundation of every project. The same can be said of corporate social responsibility, or CSR. The benefits of such activities are many. CSR has the potential to increase financial performance, attract new customers and investors, engage employees, increase innovation and provide competitive and distinctive business advantages. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 92 percent of the 250 largest companies in the world inform shareholders and the public about their CSR activities, spending almost $20 billion a year.” (D Magazine)
  10. Situs, American Mortgage Consultants to Merge “Situs Group Holdings Corp. and American Mortgage Consultants Inc. are planning to merge and rebrand as SitusAMC, a combined services and technology firm that will provide unified solutions to commercial and residential real estate lenders and investors across the globe. Once the deal closes, possibly by the end of June, the combined company will have more than $175 billion in commercial assets under management and provide fair value assessments on more than $290 billion in commercial real estate assets quarterly.” (Commercial Property Executive)
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