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10 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (Jan. 10, 2020)

Business Insider looks at how the real estate sector might change in the new decade. Walmart’s new technology is bad news for shopping center operators, according to Forbes. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Trump Moves to Exempt Big Projects from Environmental Review “Many of the changes to the law — the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, a landmark measure that touches nearly every significant construction project in the country — had been long sought by the oil and gas industry as well as trade unions, which have argued that the review process is lengthy, cumbersome and used by environmental activists to drag out legal disputes and kill infrastructure projects.” (The New York Times)
  2. Did Starwood Properties Trust Inc. Insiders Sell Shares? “It is not uncommon to see companies perform well in the years after insiders buy shares. On the other hand, we’d be remiss not to mention that insider sales have been known to precede tough periods for a business. So we’ll take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in Starwood Property Trust, Inc. Most investors know that it is quite permissible for company leaders, such as directors of the board, to buy and sell stock in the company. However, rules govern insider transactions, and certain disclosures are required.” (Simply Wall St.)
  3. Here's How Real Estate Will Radically Change in the New Decade “A sense of gloom hangs in the air. ‘Bloodbath,’ ‘free fall,’ and ‘slump’ were just some of the choice idioms deployed by headline writers to describe the New York real estate market during the twilight of 2019. Across the pond, townhouses in central London — long the favored investment vehicle for billionaires from Bahrain to Belarus — have lost 20 percent of their value in a five-year nosedive. Worldwide, according to Savills, a global property consultancy, ‘everything is trending to zero.’” (Business Insider)
  4. One Architect’s Radical Vision to Replace the Open Office “Like many working professionals, the Chicago architect David Dewane can quickly rattle off what he sees wrong with modern offices. Many spaces are prone to interruptions. They’re too noisy. Open office plans, designed for collaboration, can make it tough for people to do any sort of meaningful, focused work, he says. ‘We spend so much time working,’ says Mr. Dewane, a former professor and architect at workspace-design giant Gensler, and now a director at the architecture firm Barker/Nestor. ‘It just should feel better.’” (Wall Street Journal, subscription required)
  5. 6 of the Weirdest Ways to Invest in Real Estate “Traditionally, most real estate investors get their start by either buying an older home to fix and flip, buying a single-family home to rent out, or purchasing an income-producing commercial property like a multifamily unit. However, there are lots of other ways to invest in real estate, including some unusual ones. Here's a look at six of the oddest ways to invest in real estate.” (Million Acres)
  6. Kohl’s Tie Up with Amazon Was Seen as a Game Changer. But Sluggish Holiday Sales Suggest It Isn’t “Kohl’s tie-up with Amazon was supposed to be a boon to the department store chain, which is teetering between sales gains and declines. But any benefits from accepting Amazon returns in its stores, and all of that expected new customer traffic, are now in doubt after Kohl’s released its holiday sales results Thursday.” (CBNC)
  7. Boston and Nantucket Join in Call for Real Estate Taxes to Boost Affordable Housing “Massachusetts communities including Boston, Somerville and Nantucket are joining forces to push the Legislature to allow them to tax some real estate deals and use the money to bolster affordable housing. The cities and towns each have different home rule petitions before lawmakers. At the same time, a proposal would allow communities to assess a tax of up to 2% without needing approval from lawmakers.” (WBUR)
  8. Walmart’s Latest Tech Move Shows Why Grocery Real Estate Is in Trouble “Earlier this week, Walmart unveiled Alphabot, a product of Massachusetts-based startup Alert Innovation. Using 20,000 square feet in Walmart’s Salem, Massachusetts, store, Alphabot holds about 20,000 grocery items, including fresh, frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable products. Alphabot’s robotic system will pick products from a consumer’s order for a human to review, pack and send off for pickup in the parking lot or delivery to a consumer’s home.” (Forbes)
  9. Developers Are Banking on Co-Living, But Will It Catch On? “When Pebb Capital principal James Jago attended Tulane University in the early 2000s, he lived in “a dumpy house” with three roommates. But now, college students increasingly have the option to live off-campus in luxury student housing loaded with amenities like resort-style pools with cabanas, coffee bars, game rooms, movie theaters and fitness centers with yoga and indoor cycling studios.” (The Real Deal)
  10. Futuristic Prefab Home Comes with AI Assistant “Tiny home makers all have a calling card. Whether it’s pay-as-you-go minimalism or maximum customer convenience, it helps to know what makes you stand out in the ever-growing micro home scene. Take Singapore startup Nestron, who’s aiming for futuristic charm, with four different models that embrace automation and AI. Built for city dwellers looking for more affordable housing options, Nestron’s models range from a starting price of $30,000 for the 156-square-foot Cube One to $52,000 for the 263-square-foot Cube Two.” (Curbed)
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