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

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said that the U.S. economy won’t be able to grow by 3 percent in 2017, reports Reuters. Sears CEO Edward Lampert insists that he is trying to turn around the long-struggling retailer, according to the Chicago Tribune. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Commerce’s Ross Says 3% GDP Growth Goal Will Not Happen This Year “The U.S. economy won't achieve the Trump administration's 3 percent growth goal this year and not until all of its tax, regulatory, trade and energy policies are fully in place, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday. Ross also said trade enforcement actions would be a major tool to cut U.S. trade deficits, adding that he has problems with World Trade Organization rules which allow widely divergent tariffs and are slow to punish violators.” (Reuters)
  2. Fed’s Rosengrent Warns That Fannie, Freddie Reform Could Roil Commercial Real Estate Market “The pair of mortgage-finance giants, which were bailed out by the U.S. government and placed in conservatorship in 2008 during the height of the financial crisis, have historically boasted outsize influence on the single-family mortgage market, but Rosengren expressed concern that the duo’s growing clout in the multifamily sector may pose a risks, as the government considers new structures for the entities, created in the wake of the Great Depression to help facilitate homeownership.” (MarketWatch)
  3. Sears CEO: ‘We’re Fighting Like Hell to Change the Way People Do Business with Us’ “After the sixth consecutive year of losses and several rounds of store closings, Sears Holdings Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert says he's still committed to reversing the department store chain's slide by turning Sears into a 21st-century merchant focused on catering to its best customers. In an interview Tuesday, Lampert acknowledged Sears' struggles and admitted that the turnaround is taking longer than expected. But he also complained about media coverage speculating on a possible bankruptcy, saying it is undermining the company's efforts and has made it tougher for Sears and Kmart to work with suppliers.” (Chicago Tribune)
  4. Taubman Fights Back Against Activists Fighting for Board Seats “Taubman Centers says it has reviewed board nominees put forth by Jonathan Litt's activist hedge fund Land & Buildings Investment Management, and in its view Taubman's own candidates for the board are more qualified than Litt's. ‘Land & Buildings has a fundamentally flawed view of what is needed to maximize Taubman's value on a sustainable basis-a belief supported by Mr. Litt's repeatedly flawed analysis and erroneous conclusions about Taubman while covering the company as a sell-side analyst,’ the company said in a filing Tuesday.” (The Street)
  5. Abercrombie Fields Takeover Interest—Sources “U.S. teen apparel retailer company Abercrombie & Fitch Co (ANF.N) is working with an investment bank to field takeover interest from other retailers, people familiar with the situation said on Tuesday. Abercrombie's shares are trading at a 17-year low, making it a vulnerable acquisition target. The company has struggled as its logo-stamped t-shirts and sweaters, once popular among teenagers, have lost their fashion appeal.” (Reuters)
  6. Downbeat Quarter Expected for Whole Foods, as Sale Speculation Mounts “Investors hoping for any hint of what is next for struggling Whole Foods Market might want to tune into the organic grocer's fiscal second-quarter earnings call after the close Wednesday. ‘This is another highly anticipated report given recent activist involvement,’ Oppenheimer analyst Rupesh Parikh said in a note Monday. The Austin, Texas-based chain is under pressure from two major shareholders and has faced calls to sell the company.” (CNBC)
  7. Commercial Lending in U.S. Remains Favorable in Q1 “According to CBRE, high investor confidence, attractive equity markets and positive economic indicators have contributed to favorable commercial real estate lending market conditions in the U.S. during Q1 2017. While the fairly dramatic increase in long-term interest rates that occurred in late Q4 2016 continued into early Q1 2017, its impact on commercial real estate markets has been fairly limited, especially given the more recent decline in Treasury rates. The CBRE Lending Momentum Index, which tracks the pace of U.S. commercial loan closings, fell by 14.3% in Q1 2017 to 228.” (World Property Journal)
  8. Walker & Dunlop Provides $190M Refi for Multifamily Portfolio “Walker & Dunlop has provided a $190 refinancing package for six Class A and B multifamily properties in California and Nevada on behalf of Warmington Properties, Commercial Observer can first report. Gregory Richardson and Scott Watson led the Walker & Dunlop team in the transaction. The debt comprises five Freddie Mac loans and one Fannie Mae loan, each with a 10-year term and 30-year amortization schedule. The non-recourse, fixed-rate loans were arranged with a cash-out component.” (Commercial Observer)
  9. Penn Medicine Kicks Off $1.5B Philly Project “The University of Pennsylvania has broken ground on The Pavilion, a 1.5 million-square-foot hospital on the West Philadelphia campus of Penn Medicine. The $1.5 billion project, which will be erected on the site of the former Penn Tower, marks the largest capital project in Penn’s history. Sited at 33rd St. and Convention Ave., the 17-story Pavilion will feature 500 private patient rooms and 47 operating rooms—but it won’t be your traditional hospital facility.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  10. High-Rises on Trib Printing Plant Site? It’s Possible Now “The city's plan to relax its zoning along the North Branch of the Chicago River will make many developers and landowners happy—and rich. But Tribune Media's future owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group, may soon hold the biggest prize of all: a prime 30.4-acre riverside parcel just north of downtown, currently the site of the Chicago Tribune's Freedom Center printing plant. The River West property, at Chicago Avenue along the Chicago River, is part of the $3.9 billion sale to Sinclair, which told analysts earlier this week that it wants to sell all of Tribune Media's real estate within two years.” (Crain’s Chicago Business)
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