Archive for May, 2012

Retailing Finds a New Pal

Monday, May 28th, 2012
On the heels of one of the busiest weeks for retailing news in 2012, comes further evidence that the lines between bricks and mortar and digital retailing are continuing to merge.
PayPal, the popular online payment vendor which began operations in 1998, is branching out and will be accepted at 15 major retailers nationwide. This is big news because it could potentially change the way consumers and retailers interact with banks and credit card companies when making retail purchases. PayPal is already accepted in about 2,000 Home Depots across the country.
The retailers involved in the new announcement include Abercrombie & Fitch, Advance Auto Parts, Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes & Noble, Foot Locker, Guitar Center, Jamba, J.C. Penney Co., Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Nine West, Office Depot, Rooms To Go, TigerDirect and Toys “R” Us.
The news came via a blog by PayPal president David Marcus, which you can read here.
For more media coverage, click here.
RECon Roundup
The PayPal announcement came after what by most accounts was a successful annual pilgrimage of U.S. shopping center owners, developers and retailers to the RECon convention, held by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) in Las Vegas. This year’s event saw an estimated 32,000 attendees, significantly up from the past few years.
For highlights on that really big show, click on these links:

In the News (May 21-25)

Sunday, May 27th, 2012
It was a busy week heading into the holiday weekend, so check out these links to some of the noteworthy stories that are trending in the world of commercial real estate.

New Institute Connects Global Public Investors

Saturday, May 19th, 2012
It’s funny what a little economic crisis can do. By now, we all know that volatility has become a part of daily life in the new global economy. As a result, many institutional investors and their consultants have “muddled through” over the last four years, in a kind of dreamy world where reality often has intruded in a swift and harsh manner.
Now one of the leading players in the institutional world is, once again, attempting to connect public institutions to help them make more informed real estate investment decisions. Call it the global band of brothers.
In a bid to streamline the global conversation, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), which now control some $5 trillion in assets under management worldwide, are establishing a new Institute Council of Investors (ICI). The plan, hatched by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, hopes to bring together executives from a variety of institutional investors, including SWFs, public pension funds, central banks, government investment authorities and other governmental entities. Initial members include some of the most senior names in the public investor industry.
Read the full story in the new May issue of Real Estate Forum.

In the News (May 14-18)

Saturday, May 19th, 2012
Check out these links to some of the noteworthy stories that are trending in the world of commercial real estate.

Insurers Ramping Up CRE Deals

Sunday, May 13th, 2012
A leading institutional investor in commercial real estate is on the hunt for deals.
Insurance firms, which invest billions each year in commercial real estate, are in the midst of a buying spree. This point was brought home just last week, when Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) announced its purchase of Georgia’s premier golf and resort community, Reynolds Plantation, for an undisclosed sum. The deal for the massive project located 70 miles east of Atlanta includes The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, six championship golf courses, four full-service marinas and nearly 5,000 acres of undeveloped golf and waterfront property.
MetLife has $60 billion in real estate assets under management. The transaction is anticipated to close during the summer, but specific terms were not disclosed.
“Reynolds Plantation is an exceptional development, and we’re excited about the opportunity to become the new owner,” said Robert Merck, senior managing director and head of real estate investments for MetLife. “This is a premier community with world-class amenities, a great reputation and a strong future. MetLife has been a real estate investor for over a century, and this transaction represents an outstanding investment opportunity for us.”
With the Reynolds Plantation deal, MetLife is engaging Birmingham, Ala.-based Daniel Corporation to oversee all day-to-day operations of the community. MetLife and Daniel have partnered on deals for some 25 years, on projects including 12th & Midtown, a multi-block development along Atlanta’s Peachtree Street, which includes the 717,000-sq.-ft. 1075 Peachtree office tower and the Loews Atlanta Hotel. MetLife also is no stranger to both Atlanta and to the Southeastern U.S., since it owns the Georgia Pacific Center, Georgia 400 Center and the Rocca Apartments.
The first quarter has seen a healthy dose of deal making by the nation’s leading insurers. Earlier this year, for example, MetLife purchased the EnV luxury apartment tower in downtown Chicago. Also in January, Prudential Real Estate Investors (PREI), in a new joint venture with Lodging Capital Partners, acquired the Austin Four Seasons, a 291-room luxury hotel located in downtown Austin, Texas. PREI is the real estate investment management and advisory business of Prudential Financial, Inc.
In April, PREI purchased the Axis at Perimeter luxury apartment development in Atlanta for $53.5 million. And the big insurer also looks set to close on its purchase of the 20-story office tower in midtown Atlanta known as Ten Peachtree Place, from a partnership between Cousins Properties and Coca-Cola.
Overall, the trend is further evidence that commercial property deal making is on the rise. According to New York-based researcher Real Capital Analytics, first-quarter transaction volume totaled $50.3 billion, up 40% from a year earlier
Other firms have jumped into the fray. Last week Fidelity Assurance Co. acquired the JPMorgan Chase Bank Tower, a 12-story, Class-A office building in Arlington, Texas, just west of Dallas. Fidelity bought the property, which is 95% leased, from Brookfield Real Estate Opportunity Group.
Another insurer has been busy as well. In April, USAA Real Estate Co. and GlenStar Properties LLC purchased the landmark Chicago Board of Trade Building. The two-building office complex, totaling 1.3 million square feet, is the global financial center for financial and commodity futures and options products.
San Antonio-based USAA Real Estate, a subsidiary of financial services firm USAA, has about $12 billion of assets under management, and its portfolio consists of office, industrial, retail and hotel properties as well as investments in real estate operating companies.
Earlier this month, USAA Real Estate said it would develop a one million square foot fulfillment center for Amazon Fulfillment in Patterson, Calif.

In the News (May 7-11)

Saturday, May 12th, 2012
Check out these links to some of the noteworthy stories that are trending in the world of commercial real estate.

Endowments Go to School on CRE

Sunday, May 6th, 2012
When considering the institutional investor universe, endowments are not often top of mind. However, these education-based money managers are among the elite group of institutions that invest in commercial real estate, so their movements, simply put, matter.
Read the rest of my new column on and in Real Estate Forum magazine here.

In the News (April 30-May 4)

Sunday, May 6th, 2012
Check out these links to some of the noteworthy stories that are trending in the world of commercial real estate.

Meet the New OKC

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

When the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA basketball team defeated Dallas in the playoffs, it signaled the beginning of a new era or shifting of the guard among sports franchises. The same can be said, to a lesser degree, when it comes to the two cities themselves.

Oklahoma City is undergoing nothing short of a major transformation at the core of its commercial real estate market. Much of the action is centered around the city’s downtown, and particularly the new 50-story Devon Energy Center tower, which has quickly become the focal point for the city’s rebirth.

Check out these recent pics.