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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (March 19, 2020)

CBRE caps the number of people allowed to attend its auctions, reports Australian Financial Review. Private equity investors don’t want to miss on high-return investment opportunity, according to the Wall Street Journal. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Bernanke and Yellen: The Federal Reserve Must Reduce Long-Term Damage from Coronavirus “Around the world, policymakers are grappling with the effects of the devastating coronavirus. Experts on public health are taking the leading role, as they should. For their part, fiscal policymakers are helping to fund the public health response while providing critical aid to people whose lives and livelihoods have been shattered by the virus and its effects. Fiscal policy will certainly have to do more as the size of the hit to economic activity becomes apparent.” (Financial Times)
  2. CBRE to Cap Number of People at Auctions on Health Fears “CBRE will restrict its coming auctions to registered bidders only and up to a maximum of 30 people, as commercial real estate agencies seek to keep business flowing while abiding by strict social distancing and hygiene requirements.” (Australian Financial Review)
  3. Private Equity Investors Try to Gauge Coronavirus Cash Crunch “Buyout funds from vintage 2008 and 2009 had median net internal rates of return of 13.4% and 14%, respectively, higher than the three previous years, according to data tracker Preqin Ltd. Investors are trying to keep that track record in mind and continue to put money into new private-equity funds, Mrs. Shaw said. ‘We’re going to see more patience [than in 2008], but it’s unclear how long that patience will last,’ she said.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  4. Simon Property Group Temporarily Closes All Domestic Properties “Simon, announced that after extensive discussions with federal, state and local officials and in recognition of the need to address the spread of COVID-19, Simon will close all of its retail properties, including Malls, Premium Outlets and Mills in the U.S. This measure will take effect from 7 pm local time today and will end on March 29.” (PRNewswire)
  5. They Clean the Buildings That Workers Are Fleeing. But Who Is Protecting Them? “The rumor unsettled Deborah Santamaria. A fellow janitor at 555 California Street, a 52-story office tower in San Francisco’s financial district, told her he heard that a floor of the building was being closed because a worker had contracted the novel coronavirus. At 63, Ms. Santamaria counted herself among those most vulnerable to a virus that had killed thousands worldwide and was rapidly spreading across the United States. Her supervisor at Able Services, the contractor that employs her, reassured her that nothing was wrong, she said.” (The New York Times)
  6. Some U.K. Property Funds Ban Withdrawals Over Coronavirus “Investors in UK property funds are facing bans on withdrawing their money after managers said the coronavirus crisis had made it impossible to value the buildings that they own. Funds worth more than £7bn have been closed this week, and investors have been warned that more are likely to follow. Managers have said they want to protect customers by ensuring that they do not make payments at a time when they are unsure of the value of their underlying assets.” (The Guardian)
  7. Restaurant Industry Asks the Government for $145 Billion Recovery Fund from the Government “The National Restaurant Association is asking the federal government for financial relief for the industry as it forecasts sales declines of $225 billion over the next three months due to the coronavirus outbreak. The lobbying group is predicting the loss of between 5 million to 7 million jobs — more than a third of the total U.S. restaurant jobs — if the restaurant industry is shut down for three months.” (CNBC)
  8. Nevada Casinos Closing for 30 Days Following State Order “Gov. Steve Sisolak’s unprecedented order on nonessential Nevada businesses will shut down 440 licensed casinos, bringing Nevada’s dominant industry to a complete halt and leaving tens of thousands of workers in differing degrees of economic uncertainty. The announcements from various gaming companies over previous days about plans to close or remain open in response to the spread of the new coronavirus became moot when Sisolak made his declaration Tuesday that all casino operations cease at midnight.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
  9. CRE Financiers Weigh In on Fed Action, COVID-19 Fallout “’If you’ve seen one financial crisis,’ Former Federal Reserve governor, Kevin Warsh, said during a speech in 2008, ‘you’ve seen one financial crisis.’” (Commercial Observer)
  10. Grand Central Terminal Restaurants Are Furious That MTA Is Forcing Them to Pay Rent “The outrage follows just days after the MTA’s attempt to evict Art Bird and Whiskey Bar — the food hall spot owned by Lady Gaga’s dad Joe Germanotta — from the terminal for not paying rent. Germanotta refused to pay rent saying the station’s homeless population were depressing his business. The reminder issued to businesses to pay rent was part a letter the MTA sent to GCT tenants writing that rules about keeping shops open for a certain amount of hours were suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Eater has reached out to the MTA for comment.” (Eater New York)
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