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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (December 20, 2019)

Airbnb faces bad publicity as it prepares for IPO, reports Fortune. More than 9,300 stores closed their doors this year, according to CNN Business. These are among today's must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Freddie Mac CFO James Mackey Stepped Down After 6 Years in the Role “Freddie Mac disclosed Thursday that Chief Financial Officer James Mackey had stepped down, effective Wednesday, after six years in the role. The government-sponsored mortgage company named Donald Kish, current the corporate controller and principal accounting officer, as interim CFO, effective Thursday. Kish has been controller and PAO since May 2018. The disclosures were made in an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.” (MarketWatch)
  2. House Passes Bill to Lift $10,000 Cap on State and Local Tax Deductions “The Democratic-controlled House passed a bill on Thursday that would do away with the $10,000 limit on the itemized deduction for state and local taxes for two years. Legislators narrowly voted in favor and did so largely along party lines: 218 to 206. The measure, dubbed the ‘Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act’ or HR 5377, proposes increasing the so-called SALT cap to $20,000 for married taxpayers who are filing jointly in 2019.” (CNBC)
  3. Airbnb Copes with a Bad Trip on the Road to its IPO “Concerns about fraud and safety have shadowed Airbnb throughout its rise. But the shooting and the Vice article, both widely picked up by other news outlets, dragged those issues into the foreground at a particularly inopportune time: Just six weeks earlier, Airbnb had announced its intention to go public in 2020.” (Fortune)
  4. This Toy Store Invites Children to Play. But Will It Sell Anything? “’Daddy,’ called 4-year-old Balarama Ewing. ‘I have to show you something!’ Balarama dashed toward a canoe filled with stuffed animals and pulled out a glittery snake, which he used to whack his dad’s torso. Balarama’s twin, Krishna, followed suit with a plush shark. The Ewings were exploring Camp in Downtown Brooklyn, a venture-backed ‘family experience store’ — what would have recently been called a toy store — that blends play and product in hopes of reviving a tired retail toy scene.” (The New York Times)
  5. Southern California’s Housing Market Is Heating Up. Median Price Rises 5.6% “After a sluggish start to 2019, the Southern California housing market is ending the year on an upswing. The median home price for the six counties rose by 5.6% in November from a year earlier, to an all-time high of $549,000, according to data from DQNews. The percentage increase was also the largest in 15 months. Sales, meanwhile, also rose 5.6% — the third consecutive increase.” (Los Angeles Times)
  6. It’s Not the Tallest, But the Former Sears Tower Has a New Title: LEED Platinum “It’s not quite the same as its previous distinction — the world’s tallest skyscraper — but Chicago’s Willis Tower has captured a new title: the largest U.S. building to achieve the highest level of energy efficiency. Building owner EQ Office, the U.S. office arm of private-equity giant Blackstone Group, is scheduled to announce Wednesday that the 110-story skyscraper has achieved LEED Platinum certification.” (Chicago Tribune)
  7. More Than 9,300 Stores Closed in 2019 “2019 was another bruising year for many American retailers, despite healthy consumers and a strong economy. This year, US retailers announced 9,302 store closings, a 59% jump from 2018 and the highest number since Coresight Research began tracking the data in 2012. Bankruptcies in the retail sector intensified this year and many struggling chains cut stores. That led to a spike in closings. Payless, Gymboree, Charlotte Russe and Shopko all filed for bankruptcy and closed a combined 3,720 stores, according to Coresight.” (CNN Business)
  8. Construction Company Accused of Building a $57,000 Insurance Fraud on Miami-Dade County “A construction company’s owner and office manager tried to make a little extra profit on two Miami-Dade County projects with $57,228.20 of insurance fraud. That’s the claim in the arrest warrant that resulted in the jailing of ABC Construction owner and president Jorge Gonzalez and office manager Laura Gonzalez, no relation. They’re accused of submitting reimbursement paperwork for insurance premiums the company didn’t pay.” (Miami Herald)
  9. Energy Corridor Office Building Changes Hands “An affiliate of Rycore Capital purchased 1311 Broadfield Blvd, a 155,407-square-foot office building on 3.88 acres in the Energy Corridor’s Park 10 Regional Business Center. Kevin McConn, Rudy Hubbard and Rick Goings of JLL represented the seller, an affiliate of Lexington Realty Trust. Matt Kafka, Cameron Cureton and Michael Johnson arranged a three-year, floating-rate acquisition loan through Crossharbor Capital Partners on behalf of the buyer.” (Houston Chronicle)
  10. The 10 Biggest Real Estate Tech Funding Rounds of 2019 “If 2018 was the year of big money for real estate tech startups, 2019 was a reckoning. After the world’s largest office space company, WeWork, saw its $47 billion valuation plunge by more than 80 percent, investors began second-guessing the eye-popping valuations being assigned to startups.” (The Real Deal)
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