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Nine Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (Dec. 15, 2020)

Small banks had a good year in 2020, reports the Wall Street Journal. Many businesses in California are at the breaking point amid new shutdown orders, according to The Guardian. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. ‘The Best Year Ever:’ 2020 Was Surprisingly Good to Small Banks “When coronavirus closed businesses in Baltimore and its suburbs in the spring, Kevin Benson feared the worst for the small lender he runs—widespread defaults, anemic loan growth. Instead, Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan surpassed $1 billion in assets in May, years ahead of schedule, aided by a government-backed lending boom. The vast majority of its borrowers—consumers and businesses—are in good standing.” (Wall Street Journal)
  2. ‘Dissonance’ Confronts Fed, with Vaccine Weighted Against Joblessness “In about two weeks, at least 9 million jobless U.S. residents are at risk of losing the unemployment benefits that have helped sustain them through the pandemic. Delayed rent, estimated at $70 billion spread among perhaps 11 million families, will start coming due. It seems a gaping wound, and yet as of September U.S. families had set aside record amounts of cash; bankruptcies outside of major corporations have declined; credit market investors say they see few signs of serious stress; and a coming vaccine may boost the economy’s fortunes in a rush.” (Reuters)
  3. Blackstone Raises Wager on Life Sciences with $3.5 Billion Property Deal “Blackstone Group Inc. is amping up its bet on biotechnology lab space and other life-sciences real estate, agreeing to pay $3.45 billion for a portfolio of buildings primarily in the active Cambridge, Mass., market. The acquisition is the latest sign of growing investor interest in life-sciences real estate during the pandemic. Blackstone was already one of the world’s leading investors in this type of property even before the Covid-19 outbreak.” (Wall Street Journal)
  4. Top 5 Commercial Real Estate Deals in L.A. in 2020 “If it weren’t for the month of November, the list of the top commercial real estate sales in Los Angeles County would look painfully bleak.” (Commercial Observer)
  5. Bed, Bath & Beyond Sells World Cost Market “Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. BBBY announced Monday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Cost Plus World Market for an undisclosed amount to Los Angeles-based private-equity firm Kingswood Capital Management. The deal includes 243 bricks-and-mortar stores, two distribution facilities, an e-commerce business and a corporate office in Alameda, Calif. Cost Plus World Market is expected to continue operating as a stand-alone brand.” (MarketWatch)
  6. California Shutdown Pushes Businesses to Breaking Point “Thousands of newly constructed outside dining parklets across the state – some which cost tens of thousands of dollars to build – sit empty. Restaurateurs like Thomas are bracing for difficult weeks ahead. Many of them say they won’t survive on takeout and deliveries alone, making another surge in statewide unemployment all but certain. ‘It is tragic,’ said Thomas, who also heads the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, adding that she expected hundreds more restaurants in San Francisco would shut down in the coming weeks, leaving thousands without jobs.” (The Guardian)
  7. Midtown Legend 21 Club Shutters After 91-Year Run “Ninety-year-old Midtown restaurant 21 Club, an iconic fixture in NYC, is permanently shutting down. The restaurant, located at 52nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, has been temporarily closed since the city first banned dine-in services at restaurants and bars in March. Now, as the city weathers a second wave of the virus that has prompted more restaurant restrictions, 21 Club’s ownership has decided not to push forward with reopening the establishment, AMNY reports.” (Eater New York)
  8. Embracing the World of Outside Workspaces “The pandemic has permanently changed the way commercial buildings look and function—and the change went beyond their edges and layouts. Landlords, developers, architects and property managers are now observing and analyzing the way office users engage with the landscape, aiming to “meet emerging customer needs around workplace optionality and wellness,” according to Charlie Hobey, managing director of product and operations at EQ Office. And COVID-19 has definitely contributed to accelerating this trend.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  9. Simon Property Group Executives Have Salaries Reinstated “Simon Property Group executives have had their salaries reinstated, after taking pay cuts in spring at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.” (The Real Deal)
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