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11 Must Reads for the CRE Industry (May 18, 2022)

Fortune looks at Google’s bumpy attempt to bring back all of its office employees after a two-year pause. The Related Cos. launched a new lodging brand for business executives working away from the office, reports The Wall Street Journal. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. In Uncertain Times, Start-Ups Flock to Co-Working Spaces “When Melissa Pancoast moved her financial literacy start-up, The Beans, into a WeWork office in San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower last May, most of the offices around her were rented out but unoccupied. As vaccination rates climbed and San Francisco flirted with lifting pandemic restrictions, her neighbors started trickling back in. Ms. Pancoast’s social calendar soon filled up with bike rides and coffee dates with other start-up founders she met in the building. Today, the co-working space is bustling.” (The New York Times)
  2. Inside Google’s Epic Quest to Bring its 165,000-Person Workforce Back to the Office “After two years of remote work, the search giant finally called its employees back to the office, starting the week of April 4. On the second official day back, roadwork in Mountain View caused an hour-long backup for workers exiting the main campus. In a few locations, some schlepped in for the first time in two years only to find themselves without a desk. And while Google says it expects 20% of its employees to eventually take advantage of its policy to work remotely full-time, so far a mere 5% have. Even the return date itself came with a string of misfires—new COVID variants and rising case numbers foiled three previous attempts.” (Fortune)
  3. Commercial Real Estate Investment Jumps by 45% Year-over-Year in Q1 “Multifamily led all property sectors with $57 billion in Q1 volume, followed by industrial & logistics with $32.2 billion and office with $31.9 billion. New York was the largest market in terms of total volume for the past four quarters with $63 billion, followed by Los Angeles with $62 billion. Private investors and REITs/Public Companies were net sellers in Q1, while institutional investors were net buyers.” (CBRE)
  4. Amazon’s Rent-to-Own Strategy Has Been a Boon to Developers, But the Boom May Be Coming to an End “The Amazon sort centre known as YUL9 is a model of the engineering and tech-enabled logistics typical of the company. On roughly 6.5 hectares of former farmland west of Montreal, about 500 workers and a fleet of Amazon robots perform the relentless, freakishly efficient dance that has helped make the e-commerce multinational one of the most successful companies the world has ever seen.” (The Logic)
  5. $100 Film Studio to Rise from Rubble of Ex-Public Housing Site “On Tuesday afternoon, officials are expected to announce the grand new vision for the 15-acre lot: By March 2024, the mounds of rubble at the center of a blighted neighborhood less than two miles from Newark Liberty Airport are slated to be replaced by a $100 million television and movie production hub featuring six large soundstages and space for set building, postproduction editing, crew trucks and catering services.” (The New York Times)
  6. Atlanta’s No. 1 Broker Bought Homes for Big Investors from 600 Miles Away “Atlanta’s top-performing residential real-estate agent lives in Florida. He didn’t set foot in Georgia for two years, and he sees no reason why he should. A.J. Steigman runs his own real-estate brokerage firm from his house in Parkland, Fla. From 600 miles away, he bought or leased more than 300 homes at a total value of more than $86 million, according to the Atlanta Realtors Association. That was the most combined sales and leases in the Atlanta metro area for any broker last year, the group said.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  7. Office-to-Life Sciences Conversions on the Rise Despite Hurdles “Investor desire to reach the market faster has led to an increase in office to life science conversions in the Bay Area.” (Bisnow)
  8. New York Developer Targets Top Executives Working Remotely “Giant developer Related Cos. is launching a new lodging brand that targets business executives who split time between their primary residence and a place near their office. While a number of developers, lodging companies and startup firms have focused on offerings for mobile freelance staffers or employees working remotely, the New York developer aims to lure members of top management and others who can pay a premium for amenity-rich buildings where they can mingle with peers.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  9. Google Opens New ‘Bay View’ Campus That Was Designed for Worker Flexibility—Here’s What It Looks Like “Google this week is opening its newest campus in Mountain View, California and executives say they aim to make it a place where employees in the company’s advertising division feel more comfortable returning to the office for decades to come. The campus dubbed ‘Bay View’ is located on 42 acres adjacent to NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View and will house 4,000 employees working on its ads products led by Google’s VP of Ads Jerry Discshler. It includes two office buildings, a 1,000-person event center and 240 temporary hotel units for employees in town short-term.” (CNBC)
  10. Finding a Place to Rent in Los Angeles Has Become a Competitive Sport “The number of apartments available for rent in L.A. County is the lowest it's been in two decades. The booming job market isn't helping.” (Los Angeles Times)
  11. Warby Parker on Track to Open 40 Stores This Year; Takes Omicron Hit “Warby Parker continues to expand its brick-and-mortar presence. The digitally native eyewear retailer opened eight new stores, bringing its store count to 169 locations. The openings included Warby’s first store in Nebraska, and going deeper in Houston and Tampa, where it opened its sixth and third stores respectively.” (Chain Store Age)
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