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Eight Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (Feb. 23, 2021)

The Urban Land Institute looks at the debate over the future of offices. COVID-19 tests will be key to reopening events venues in New York City, reports the Wall Street Journal. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Hospitality Workers Are Pushing into New Careers as Pandemic Begins Second Year “Workers at America’s hotels, restaurants, bars and convention centers have been among the hardest hit during the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdowns and the lack of travel have caused many gathering places to close or reduce their staff. Since February 2020, the leisure-and-hospitality sector has shed nearly four million people, or roughly a quarter of its workforce. As of January 2021, 15.9% of the industry’s workers remained unemployed; more than any other industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” (Wall Street Journal)
  2. The Future of Modern Workplace Remains Up for Debate “In an Oxford-style debate, two property experts locked horns virtually during the 2021 ULI Virtual Europe Conference on one of the most talked-about subjects of the past year—the future of the white-collar workplace. Once the pandemic has passed, will most office workers return to business as usual, working five days a week in proximity to colleagues? Or has the world changed forever, with most people working from home for at least a couple of days a week?” (Urban Land Magazine)
  3. COVID-19 Tests Take Priority as New York City Arenas Seek Normalcy “When fans head to the Barclays Center on Tuesday, they will be entering a space where everyone around them, from NBA players to security guards, has tested negative for Covid-19. It will be the first time since March 11, 2020, that spectators will be back in the arena, said John Abbamondi, chief executive of BSE Global, which manages and operates the building and the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association.” (Wall Street Journal)
  4. For Black Founders, Venture Funding Remains Elusive Despite New Funds “When Donnel Baird first pitched his idea in 2014 to create a technology platform that could help small apartment buildings and other urban structures become energy efficient, he got the U.S. government to promise him $2.1 million, provided he could raise a similar amount from elsewhere. But not one of some 200 venture capital firms he approached agreed to invest back then.” (Reuters)
  5. Department Store Chain Century 21 Returning to New York “The classic New York City department store chain, known for its designer deals, went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020 and announced that it would permanently close all 13 of its stores in September. But now, it’s announcing a comeback. “Never count out a New Yorker,” its statement said. Century 21’s return will start in South Korea, with a store in Busan set to open in 2021, where the company had planned a location prior to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement.” (Commercial Observer)
  6. Why BAM Wants to Take Brookfield Property Partners Private “A look at Brookfield Asset Management's proposal to take Brookfield Property Partners private amidst the real estate arm's struggles.” (The Real Deal)
  7. ‘We Were Wiped Out.’ Merchants in Historic Philadelphia Market Grapple with Pandemic “Typically a bustling hub of restaurants, shops and food vendors, the indoor market, which celebrates its 128th anniversary on Monday, stayed open throughout the pandemic. But with conventions on pause, tourism down and much of the lunch crowd now working remotely, foot traffic at the market whittled down to roughly a third of its normal levels. ‘We were wiped out,’ said Annie Allman, who took over as chief executive and general manager of the Reading Terminal Market in late January.” (Reuters)
  8. How Restaurants Survive the Long Pandemic Winter “New York City’s first blizzard of the season whipped in on a Wednesday evening in mid-December. Earlier in the day, the air had had that damp chill that even RealFeel can’t get right; people wedged through it with lowered foreheads and solstice scowls. All over town, restaurant owners and managers were making their own calculations. Open up just for lunch? Close until the weekend? Shut down indefinitely, or even for good? No matter how you ran the numbers, the outlook was dire. It encapsulated, in miniature, the extinction threat facing them all.” (The New Yorker)
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