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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (March 21, 2017)

BlackRock’s global chief investment strategist insists real estate is still a good investment, according to Barron’s. Amazon has opened a 6,000-sq.-ft. bookstore in Chicago, reports Chicago Tribune. These are today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.


  1. BlackRock: Make Room for Real Estate?!?! “U.S. commercial real estate has recovered, but the asset class could offer more growth amid reflation. This week on BlackRock‘s global weekly commentary, Richard Turnill, global chief investment strategist, makes the case. Property prices have returned to 2008 highs, but there are differences between then and now, says Turnill. For one, real estate development activity is lower and access to credit tighter. Valuations based on ratios of operating income to property values relative to the 10-year U.S. Treasuries are in the vicinity of the 20-year average.” (Barron’s)
  2. These Retailers are Bucking the Store Closure Trend—for Better or Worse “Contraction isn't limited to department stores. Specialty shops including Abercrombie & Fitch, Guess and Crocs are also trimming their U.S. store fleets, while recent bankruptcies from chains like The Limited are piling onto the vacancies. Yet as these chains leave space behind, others are scooping up their best locations. Here's a look at 10 retailers still in expansion mode — whether it's for better or for worse.” (CNBC)
  3. 7 Things You Should Know About the Trump Organization “The Trump Organization is currently the 48th largest private company in the United States, according to a report issued last year by research firm PrivCo. The company has 22,450 employees and took in $9.5 billion in revenue in 2014, according to the report. But others have estimated the staff as far smaller, with fewer than 4,000 people worldwide, and fewer than 150 people working out of the headquarters in Trump Tower in Manhattan.” (Esquire)
  4. Amazon Books Starts New Chapter with Chicago Store Opening in Lakeview “Amazon launched its online bookstore nearly 22 years ago. On Tuesday, it will open the doors of a brick-and-mortar store in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, giving customers a chance to test the e-commerce giant's take on offline shopping. It's just one 6,000-square-foot neighborhood bookstore. But it's also one of Amazon's first experiments with live customer service and cash registers, and a sign that one of the retail industry's biggest disrupters may not be content to stick to e-commerce.” (Chicago Tribune)
  5. States Find Closed Prisons Can Be a Tough Sell “States have found out the hard way that stunning views and good locations are not enough to overcome the baggage that comes with former prison sites. Massive, thick-walled cell blocks, dormitories and infirmaries tend to be too expensive to tear down and too restrictive to turn into viable enterprises. Nationwide, at least 22 states have closed or announced plans to close 94 state prisons and juvenile facilities since 2011, and only a handful have been sold or repurposed, according to a December report by The Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform advocacy group.” (Finance & Commerce)
  6. Will Miami’s Design District Live Up to its Promise as the City’s Premier Shopping Destination? “The district — broadly defined as the area from Biscayne Boulevard to North Miami Avenue, and from the north side of 36th Street to 42nd Street, with the center the Paseo Ponti and First Avenue — is the subject of a multimillion-square-foot revamp that will ultimately include 120 stores and at least 15 eateries in the neighborhood by the end of 2018, asserted  Craig Robins, president and CEO of Dacra, the driving force behind the redevelopment.” (The Real Deal)
  7. Detroit Real Estate This Spring: What to Watch For and Expect “The construction boom over the past few years in Detroit has been dominated by apartments. We’ll see DuCharme Place and Orleans Landing open this spring, offering hundreds of new apartments in Lafayette Park and the Riverfront. And the micro apartments at 28 Grand will soon be completed. As we see more residential open up, the need for people to invest in the city and own property becomes even more apparent. We have a couple condo developments in the works; perhaps some smart developers could offer more in the near future?” (Curbed Detroit)
  8. Brookfield Forecloses on Brill Building “Brookfield Asset Management’s real estate debt fund, a lender on the Brill Building, foreclosed on the full ownership interest in the iconic Midtown office property after winning a foreclosure auction Friday, a representative for the firm told The Real Deal. The Toronto-based office giant had the winning bid at a UCC foreclosure auction, allowing it to foreclose on $5.6 million in defaulted mezzanine debt and take control of the property, which was owned by two different groups of investors, the Brookfield representative said.” (The Real Deal)
  9. RXR, Werner Score $1.4B Refi of 5 Times Square “Morgan Stanley has provided a $1.4 billion refinancing to RXR Realty and David Werner for their 5 Times Square office building which spans West 41st Street to West 42nd Street on Seventh Avenue, sources have confirmed to Commercial Observer. The debt package consists of a $782 million senior mortgage, a $200 million junior mezzanine loan from SL Green Realty Corp. and roughly $418 million in other mezzanine financing, according to one of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.” (Commercial Observer)
  10. Transwestern Arranges Financing for Boston Landing Component “Transwestern arranged a short-term construction loan on behalf of NB Development Group for 80 Guest St. in Brighton, Mass., a part of New Balance’s $500 million Boston Landing mixed-use development. The financing, which was arranged through a syndication between U.S. Bank and TD Bank, will be used for the remaining construction on the property’s 265,000-square-foot office and laboratory section. The building also includes the Warrior Ice Arena, which serves as Boston Bruins’ new training and practice facility.” (Commercial Property Executive)
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