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13 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (May 29, 2020)

Ventas Inc. is cutting corporate positions and reducing executive salaries to maintain financial strength, reports Senior Housing News. More guidelines and strategies emerge for restaurants reopening in major cities. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Chicago Releases Plan for Reopening Restaurants, Leaving NYC in the Dust “Chicago has released a 13-page list of guidelines for how its eateries can safely resume on-premises service amid the coronavirus pandemic, while Big Apple Mayor Bill de Blasio remains short on answers. The Windy City issued the pointers on Tuesday, according to Eater, painting a picture of what a night out in the city could soon look like.” (New York Post)
  2. City Council Introduces Outdoor Dining Bill Following Complaints of Mayor’s Sloth Pace “With ever-growing calls to urgently address the need for outdoor dining in New York City, the City Council introduced new legislation Thursday that will require the city’s transportation department to identify streets, sidewalks, plazas, and other open spaces that would be suitable for restaurants to set up shop outside. In addition, the legislation guarantees that restaurants located in an area zoned for sidewalk cafes will receive a temporary sidewalk license — at no cost — to set up tables outside the restaurant. Other provisions of the new bill call on the city’s Department of Health to create safety protocols, so restaurants can ensure social distancing and cleanliness outside.” (Eater New York)
  3. Fontainbleau, James Bond’s Miami Beach Hotel, Is Shaken, Not Stirred, by Debt “The Fontainebleau is a jewel of Miami Beach, a modernist resort that was the venue for Frank Sinatra’s TV special with Elvis and a backdrop for the James Bond movie ‘Goldfinger.’ To investors, the property is feeling less glamorous. Wall Street scooped up billions of dollars of securities backed by mortgages on properties such as the Fontainebleau. But the luxury hotel is among those now seeking to renegotiate terms with lenders, highlighting how deeply the coronavirus pandemic has cut into a popular segment of deals that concentrate investors’ risk into a single asset.” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  4. Ventas to Cut 25% of Corporate Positions, Cafaro Takes 20% Salary Reduction “Executives with Ventas Inc. are reducing their salaries and the Chicago-based firm is cutting about a quarter of its corporate staff as part of an effort to maintain financial strength in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The real estate investment trust (REIT) is one of the largest owners of senior housing properties in the United States, with a senior housing operating portfolio of nearly 400 communities and a triple-net lease portfolio of about 340 communities.” (Senior Housing News)
  5. Should We Fear Post-Pandemic Inflation? “It’s not just the usual inflation alarmists. Many people now see high inflation lurking around the corner, a world where, in the not-too-distant future, major economies will face upwardly spiraling prices. There are lots of reasons, however, to think that the possibility of an early 2020s inflation surge is at best a distraction, and at worst something that could lead to bad policy today. It risks ignoring an imminent and clear-cut crisis that is mainly deflationary — causing falling prices.” (The New York Times)
  6. How and When Will Hotels Recover? “Hospitality is facing a long road back, especially in urban areas that rely heavily on group and business travel, according to the new Beyond the Global Health Crisis report from Marcus & Millichap. In the report, the firm’s hospitality division lays out four paths forward for an industry that has been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis. The paths range from a short downturn and fast recovery to an extended downturn and slow recovery that could see guestroom demand down until at least late 2021 and permanent closure of some properties.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  7. 5 New-Fangled Strategies NYC Restaurants Are Testing to Ease into Dining “While a few restaurants across the country are experimenting with UV light, in New York, hit bakery chain Magnolia may be the first to try it out at a couple of its locations. The Upper West Side location of the chain has installed a ‘cleanse portal,’ where customers stand and turn under a metal detector-like structure fitted with far UV light that’s meant to destroy airborne viruses. In addition, Magnolia plans to use recessed UV lights at its Bleecker Street flagship, in addition to the UWS outpost. Plans to install the lights at the other four NYC locations are also in the works.” (Eater New York)
  8. Schorsch REIT Executive Brian Block Heading to Prison “After nearly three years of legal maneuvering following a guilty conviction for securities fraud, Brian Block, the former senior financial officer for several real estate investment trusts run by Nicholas Schorsch, is heading to prison.” (Investment News, subscription required)
  9. Bedrock Detroit to Offer Variable Rent to Retail Tenants “Bedrock Detroit, one of the Motor City’s largest commercial landlords, will offer all of its retail tenants a variable rent rate, pegged at seven percent of gross sales, through the end of 2020, Commercial Observer has learned.” (Commercial Observer)
  10. Amazon to Offer More Permanent Roles to 70% of 175,000 New U.S. Hires “Amazon.com Inc plans to offer permanent jobs to about 70% of the U.S. workforce it has hired temporarily to meet consumer demand during the coronavirus pandemic, the company told Reuters on Thursday. The world’s largest online retailer will begin telling 125,000 warehouse employees in June that they can keep their roles longer-term. The remaining 50,000 workers it has brought on will stay on seasonal contracts that last up to 11 months, a company spokeswoman said.” (Reuters)
  11. MBA Survey Delivers More Positive News “As the COVID-19 reopening continues in its haphazard and anxious way, the results of two weekly Mortgage Bankers Association surveys, appear to indicate a growing sense of certainty about the future among America’s homeowners and borrowers. On Tuesday, MBA announced that as of May 17, forbearance activity among the 56 servicers participating in the survey had increased to 8.36 percent, equivalent to approximately 4.2 million homeowners.” (Mortgage Professional America)
  12. How Toilet Paper and Hand Sanitizer May Surprisingly Save These 3 Retailers “In the post COVID-19 world where new consumer shopping habits such as curbside pickup for daily needs will be ingrained and people only want to make one trip to a store to reduce the potential of getting sick, those non-essential retailers with the best-positioned stores will be the winners. That is if they are nearby jam-packed grocery stores like Kroger or Target.” (Yahoo! Finance)
  13. What’s Next for Real Estate and Proptech After COVID-19? “Now that ‘phase two’ is well underway for most countries globally, we are all consumed by a two-part preoccupation: when will things go back to normal, and what exactly will be “normal” in a post-coronavirus world? In the first article of this two-part miniseries, we took a look at what the future might hold for the construction industry. Today, we address what could be next for proptech after Covid-19. Will the pandemic stimulate significant change in the industry, or will we bounce back to the way things were before it struck us?” (Forbes)
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