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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (June 27, 2019)

Howard Hughes Corp. to explore strategic alternatives, according to CNBC. Few U.S. renters believe they will ever own a home, reports the Wall Street Journal. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Howard Hughes Corp. Hires Centerview Partners to Explore Alternatives, including a Sale: Sources “Howard Hughes Corp., an owner, manager and developer of different types of real estate throughout the U.S., has hired bankers at Centerview Partners to explore strategic alternatives that include a sale of the company, according to people familiar with the situation. The company, a one time spinoff from General Growth Properties, has been struggling to command a valuation that the board, led by its Chairman Bill Ackman, feels is appropriate for a company with its collection of assets and performance metrics.” (CNBC)
  2. Build-to-Rent Housing Market Explodes as Investors Rush In “During the foreclosure crisis nearly a decade ago, investors plowed into the housing market, buying millions of distressed homes and turning some of them into lucrative rentals. They transformed the once mom-and-pop market of single-family rentals into a large-scale, formally managed asset class — and it is still growing, in fact faster than ever.” (CNBC)
  3. Pier 1 Says It Could Close Nearly 60 Stores as Losses Widen “Pier 1 Imports the struggling home-decor retailer, reported a loss significantly wider than a year earlier on a sharp sales decrease, and it said it would close nearly 60 stores during the fiscal year. The loss in the quarter was $81.7 million, or $19.97 a share, vs. a year-earlier loss of $28.5 million, or $7.11 a share. It was the company's fifth consecutive quarter of losses. Sales in the quarter were $314 million, down from $371 million a year earlier. Analysts had been calling for revenue of $330 million in revenue. Pier 1 said same-store sales in the first quarter tumbled 13.5%.” (The Street)
  4. Few Renters Believe They Are Likely to Ever Own a Home “More American renters believe homeownership is financially out of reach, according to a new survey that shines fresh light on the growing housing affordability crisis. Only 24% of renters said it was “extremely likely” that they would ever own a home, 11 percentage points lower than four years ago, according to the survey set to be released Thursday by mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac. Of the renters surveyed, 82% said renting was more affordable than buying, 15 percentage points higher than February of 2018.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  5. This Is the Dark Side of Cities’ Boasts About Low Cost of Living “Cities often tout their low cost of living as a tool for attracting new residents. On the face of it, that would make sense. After all, who wouldn’t like to pay less for the things they buy: home, auto, food and recreation? Who would not wish to move to an adjacent neighborhood and pay less for all these things? Of course, if all of this were true there would be a mass exodus of families and businesses from expensive places. Quite the opposite is happening, and that warrants a brief lesson in economic geography.” (MarketWatch)
  6. Amazon Launches Partnership with Rite Aid for Package Pickup “Amazon has steadily added options for customers to receive their packages including in car trunks, inside home garages and potentially by drone. On Thursday, Amazon added another alternative for US customers: Walk into a nearby retailer and pick up an Amazon package over the counter. The new option, called Counter, will launch with pharmacy Rite Aid Corp offering the service in 100 stores, with an expansion to 1,500 stores by year’s end, the companies said.” (New York Post)
  7. Shakeup: Data Firm Credifi Lays Off Almost a Quarter of its Employees, President Departs “Commercial real estate data firm Credifi has laid off almost a quarter of its staff, and its president left last month, according to multiple sources. The shakeup comes just months after the Tel Aviv-based analytics startup completed a $6 million funding round at the start of the year. Sources said it had failed to attract clients from the financial industry, precipitating the departures. Ely Razin, the firm’s chief executive, said Wednesday that 10 people were laid off in May, including five in New York, and five in Tel Aviv.” (The Real Deal)
  8. Paramount to Buy San Francisco Office Tower for $408M “Paramount Group Inc. will soon add another premier San Francisco asset to its portfolio. The office REIT has inked a deal to purchase 55 Second St., a 387,000-square-foot trophy office property, from Nuveen Real Estate in a deal valued at $408 million, or a notable $1,054 per square foot. Also known as the KPMG Building, 55 Second opened in 2002, a development project of a joint venture of Cousins Properties Inc. and Myers Development Co.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  9. CRE Costs Force Tradeoff Between Flexibility, Privacy “Since the close of an $85 million Series C funding round in 2018 and the appointment of Bryan Murphy as CEO in January, flexible workspace provider Breather has focused its offerings to address the trend toward longer-term hybrid real estate solutions that provide the flexibility of co-working with the privacy of traditional leases. And, in the first half of 2019, Breather added 11 new spaces in San Francisco and Los Angeles totaling 30,245 square feet, bringing its West Coast portfolio to more than 110 spaces.” (GlobeSt.com)
  10. Orchards Mall Offering Rent Incentive to Potential Stores “The new owner of The Orchards Mall is getting creative in an effort to add an anchor store. Durga Property Holdings Inc., which is listed as the owner of the mall, is offering three years of no rent to any big box store willing to set up shop at the Benton Township mall. Montu Bedi, an administrative developer of Bedi and Associates LLC, is handling business development affairs for the mall on behalf of Durga Property Holdings. With J.C. Penney expected to close July 5 – which is the mall’s last anchor store – Bedi said they have hired a company to begin reaching out to other big box stores.” (The Herald-Palladium)
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