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11 Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (May 14, 2021)

With travel and restaurant visits ramping up, the U.S. is moving closer to a wide-scale reopening, reports The Wall Street Journal. Sovereign wealth funds are focusing more on direct investment in real estate, according to Asian Investor. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. With Busy Airports and Restaurants, U.S. Moves Closer to Full Reopening “The return to a pre-pandemic normal in the U.S. is gaining speed. The New York City subway hit its highest daily ridership since March 13, 2020, with some 2.2 million riders last Friday. More than 1.7 million people traveled through the nation’s airports on Sunday, the most since the start of the pandemic. The San Francisco Symphony held its first in-person performance in more than a year, and the Kansas City Symphony plans to return later this month to its concert hall.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  2. President of Key Teachers’ Union Shares Plea: ‘Schools Must Be Open in Fall’ “Randi Weingarten, president of the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, plans to call on Thursday for a full reopening of the nation’s schools for the next academic year, saying: ‘There is no doubt: Schools must be open. In person. Five days a week.’ Her prepared remarks, made available to The New York Times, come with about half of the nation’s public schools not offering five days per week of in-person learning to all students and with many families uncertain about whether they will have the option for a more traditional schedule in the fall.” (The New York Times)
  3. LIBOR Replacement Race Heats Up “New contenders are emerging in the race to get rid of the London interbank offered rate by year-end. Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. traded the first complex derivative using a Bloomberg index crafted to replace Libor, exchanging $250 million worth of an interest-rate swap earlier this month. The Bloomberg Short Term Bank Yield Index competes with the alternative preferred by regulators including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  4. Sovereign Wealth Funds’ Direct Investment Focus Set to Continue “Sovereign wealth fund investment teams used the volatility surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic to make more direct investments and they could continue this activity through 2021 as government fiscal stimulus is gradually withdrawn, say observers of the state investment agencies. Publicly disclosed direct investments by sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) reached $65.9 billion in 2020.” (Asian Investor)
  5. Regency Centers Corp. CEO Sees ‘Clear Tail Winds’ “For many years, CSX Corp.’s earnings reports have been a bellwether for the U.S. economy. The Jacksonville-based railroad is one of the first big companies to issue its reports every quarter, so its freight data and outlook offer advance clues to the economy’s direction. Now as the retail industry recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, another Jacksonville-based company’s earnings are becoming an indicator of broad trends.” (Jacksonville Daily Record)
  6. McDonald’s Raises Minimum Pay at Corporate-Owned Stores Across the U.S., as the Battle for Workers Heats Up “McDonald's is raising its minimum wage in corporate-owned stores, as fast-food chains struggle to hire employees. On Thursday, the fast-food giant announced it is rolling out pay increases at corporate-owned locations, which will shift entry level pay for crew to at least $11 to $17 per hour. The starting range for shift manager will be at least $15 to $20 per hour, based on restaurant location.” (Business Insider)
  7. The World’s Largest Public Real Estate Companies 2021 “Global real estate firms rebounded this year, as the panic of the pandemic’s early days appears to have cooled. Of the 31 real estate firms on The Global 2000, Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s largest and most impactful public companies, more than 80% saw their stocks go up compared to last year’s list.” (Forbes)
  8. Amazon to Hire 75,000 Workers in Latest Job Spree “Amazon is hiring 75,000 workers across its warehouse and delivery network in the U.S. and Canada, the company said Thursday. Amazon said the jobs will offer an average starting pay of $17 per hour, reflecting its recent wage increases, which bumped up pay by between 50 cents and $3 an hour for more than half a million of its U.S. operations employees.” (CNBC)
  9. Direct-to-Consumer Stores See More Foot Traffic During Pandemic “The pandemic — which many have seen as death-knell to brick-and-mortar shopping — may be pushing more brands to open their own stores, rather than selling through other retailers. Foot traffic at direct-to-consumer stores rose by 20 percent during the first week of April for athletic brands like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas compared to the same week in 2019, according to a new white paper from foot traffic analytics firm” (Commercial Observer)
  10. As Amazon Gobbles Up Warehouse Space, NYC Suburbs Keep Giving It Tax Breaks “Multiple tax incentive deals for suburban e-commerce facilities are raising questions as to how much taxes counties should forgo to lure warehouses.” (Bisnow)
  11. Atlanta-Based Real Estate Company to Launch Initiative to Combat Food Insecurity “An Atlanta-based multifamily real estate investment management company is working to combat food insecurity. ‘Food insecurity is an incredible problem that we are facing today, and just in Georgia alone, 1.5 million people are food insecure,’ said Cortland sustainability analyst Madeline Robertson. Cortland, which has a total of 200 apartment communities throughout the country and 30 in Georgia, recently partnered with Move for Hunger, a national hunger-relief nonprofit.” (WABE)
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