10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (September 23, 2016)

10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (September 23, 2016)


  1. Marriott closes on $13B Starwood purchase “This time, no mysterious Chinese suitor showed up at the last minute. Marriott International closed on the $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The new company will span 5,700 hotels with 1.1 million rooms across 110 countries, making it the world’s largest hotel operator. Marriott had initially agreed to buy Starwood in November. But in March, Chinese insurer and fund manager Anbang Insurance Group launched a rival, $14 billion bid, prompting Marriott to up its own offer. Anbang suddenly and mysteriously withdrew its bid mere weeks later, clearing the way for the Marriott merger.We think there are real advantages to size,’ Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson told the Journal. The new company runs and operates numerous hotels in New York through its Ritz Carlton, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn, W Hotels, Westin and Sheraton brands.” (The Real Deal)
  2. The 20 hottest housing markets in America “Real estate is a competitive business. In some markets, if you don't jump on a property you like right away, you risk losing it within days — or even hours. A new study by Realtor.com found the hottest housing markets in country by zip code, measuring the time it takes properties to sell and how frequently homes are viewed. Homes in the hottest zip codes go fast, selling in an average of 25 days — a full 53 days faster on average than the rest of the country, according to Realtor.com. These places also have a few crucial similarities: They tout strong job markets and are home to a large population of millennials, one of the largest generations in US history.” (Business Insider)
  3. Shakeup at American Apparel: CEO to step down  “The saga continues at American Apparel. Paula Schneider plans to step down as CEO of the apparel retailer on Oct. 3, according to yahoo.com, which cited a report by Women’s Wear Daily. Schneider will be replaced by the company’s general counsel and chief administrative officer, Chelsea Grayson. It was also revealed that Paul Charron, former CEO and chairman of Liz Claiborne Inc., stepped down as board chairman of American Apparel in August. Charron was appointed to the board in March. American Apparel is known to be exploring a possible sale of all or parts of the business Schneider, a seasoned retail veteran, joined American Apparel in late 2014. She helped steer the chain through bankruptcy and initiated the first stages of a comprehensive turnaround plan. She also fought all attempts by founder and deposed CEO Dov Charney to return and take over the company.” (Chain Store Age)
  4. How does a mall cope when a big tenant like Macy's closes? “Like many mall owners, Irvine Co. recently got troubling news: A big tenant at its Irvine Spectrum Center, a Macy’s department store, would close in early 2016. But instead of looking for a new tenant, Irvine Co. is looking for 20 of them. As part of a $150-million overhaul of the open-air shopping mall, the two-story Macy’s building has been demolished to make room for a collection of smaller merchants. Irvine Co. representatives didn’t want to talk about the Macy’s pullout, but in January called it “a unique opportunity to rebalance” the retail center. Landlords nationwide are facing similar challenges because several struggling chains have trimmed their store rosters or gone out of business. Not every mall has the financial resources of privately held Irvine Co. to revamp its properties. For some, the loss of Macy’s or other anchor tenant would be a heavy blow because such retailers are the main lure for shoppers, which benefits a mall’s smaller merchants. And fewer retailers these days are big enough to replace a Macy’s.” (Los Angeles Times)
  5. Report: 7-Eleven plans major expansion “The parent company of 7-Eleven wants to more than double its store portfolio in the United States. Seven-Eleven Japan Co. is looking to open thousands of new stores in the U.S., increasing its current total of approximately 8,500 locations to 20,000, The Japan Times reported. The U.S. unit of 7-Eleven is ready to expand its network after introducing Japanese-style product development and services through personnel exchanges with Seven-Eleven Japan, according to the report.” (Chain Store Age)
  6. City Council bill seeks to crack down on real estate transfer-tax dodgers “City Councilman Al Taubenberger introduced legislation Thursday to close the loopholes used by parties in some of Philadelphia's biggest commercial real estate transactions to avoid or lessen the transfer tax on those deals. The measure seeks to end a practice that has allowed the real estate transfer tax  — now 4 percent, but set to increase — to be paid against a sum that is less than a property’s actual purchase price. It also would make it more difficult to avoid the transfer tax by having former owners keep a partnership stake in a property, rather than selling it outright. Taubenberger said his bill aimed to level the playing field between everyday buyers and sellers of real estate — who pay the transfer tax in full as a matter of course — and parties in big transactions that have the resources to avoid doing so. ‘What I’d like to see happen is that the guy or lady in their rowhouse is really paying the same percentage that the really powerful corporations are,’ he said. ‘What we want here is fairness.’ The proposal comes a month after an Inquirer analysis found that in some of the city’s biggest commercial real estate transactions, the transfer tax  is regularly paid on a property value less than the purchase price, if it is paid at all.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
  7. BRP Cos. to Preserve and Create Affordable Housing in East NYC “Leading affordable housing developer BRP Cos. has announced it intends to preserve and create 710 units of affordable housing in East New York. The $200 million project includes the full renovation of 468 units, as well as 242 units which are currently under construction. BRP Cos. recently celebrated the development at a groundbreaking held at the Livonia Avenue site of the new units. The project will create 30,000 square feet of much-needed community and retail space. Attending were BRP Cos. Co-founders and Managing Partners Meredith Marshall and Geoff Flournoy, Commissioner Vicki Been of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), NYC Housing Development Corp. President Gary Rodney and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. Also in attendance were Assemblyman Charles Barton, Councilman Rafael Espinal and residents who lived in East New York during the preservation and renovation.” (MultiHousing News)
  8. Master-Planned Residential Community to Rise in Fort Worth “A collaboration between private and public partners have broken ground on the first phase of Columbia at Renaissance Square, a master-planned community that the partnership hopes will transform Southeast Forth Worth. The partners, formally called Columbia Renaissance Square I LP, include Atlanta-based Columbia Residential, the city of Fort Worth, BBVA Compass Bank, RBC Capital Markets and Renaissance Heights United. The development, which will include three phases of mixed-income housing, will be located between Mitchell Boulevard and Wichita Street in the city’s Mason Heights neighborhood. Construction on Phase I has started, bringing 140 units of mixed-income housing. Phase II will bring 120 units of senior housing and is expected to begin construction in early 2017. The total project is scheduled for completion by late 2017.” (MultiHousing News)
  9. Dos Toros Is Bullish on Expansion “In the battle of the burrito chains, Dos Toros Taqueria is aiming to become a grande-sized player. The New York-based company, which operates 11 fast-casual Mexican restaurants in the city, expects to open four to six new locations annually in the coming years, both locally and in markets such as Boston, Philadelphia, Houston and Washington, D.C. The planned expansion comes on the heels of $10 million in funding that Dos Toros received from GrowthPoint Partners, an investment group headed by Nick Marsh, chief executive of another New York chain, Chopt Creative Salad Co. Dos Toros, which is slated to open a 12th location in New York next month and one in Chicago next year, is attempting to make inroads on rival chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., whose sales fell after food-safety problems last year. ‘We want to strike while the iron is hot,’ said Dos Toros co-founder Oliver Kremer.” (Wall Street Journal)
  10. Florida home builders unite: Lennar to buy WCI for $643 million “Lennar Corp., the second-largest home builder in the nation, agreed to buy luxury home builder WCI Communities in a deal that would expand Miami-based Lennar’s reach and operations in the state. Lennar will spend $643 million to acquire Bonita Springs-based WCI, a transaction that combines two of the largest home construction companies in Florida. The boards of both publicly traded companies have approved the deal, which must still get the nod from WCI shareholders. News of the deal sent WCI shares soaring in morning trading, and its stock closed the day 38 percent higher on Thursday. Lennar shares closed up at less than 1 percent in New York Stock Exchange trading. Lennar offered $23.50 in cash and stock for each WCI share, or about 37 percent more than WCI’s closing share price on Wednesday. The transaction is based on an enterprise value of $809 million, according to a statement…Charles Brecker, a partner in the Miami office of law firm Arnstein & Lehr, said he expects Lennar to be a much more active builder of residential and mixed-use high-rise projects, always the benchmark of WCI’s best practices.” (Miami Herald)
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