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Nine Must Reads for the CRE Industry Today (Apr. 9, 2021)

President Biden plans to ease the affordable housing shortage by pushing local governments to change zoning regulations, reports Reuters. U.S. schools are expected to be fully open for in-person instruction by September, according to new comments by CDC director Rochelle Walensky. These are among today’s must reads from around the commercial real estate industry.

  1. Biden Seeks to Ease Housing Shortage with $5 Billion ‘Carrot, No Stick’ Approach “President Joe Biden is seeking to ease a national affordable housing shortage by pushing local governments to allow apartment buildings in neighborhoods that are currently restricted to single-family homes. The $5 billion plan could inject the White House into a debate pitting older homeowners against younger workers seeking to gain a foothold in the most expensive U.S. cities, where many families spend a third or more of their income on housing.” (Reuters)
  2. Now You Can Pay Rent in Bitcoin, At Least at Mall Magnate’s Rick Caruso’s Apartments “The developer's crypto embrace includes accepting bitcoin rent payments at the Grove and Americana, part of a venture with the Winklevoss twins.” (Los Angeles Times)
  3. The Power of a Balanced Portfolio: Q&A “As landlords and tenants adjust to a new office environment reconfigured by the pandemic, KBS, one of the largest owners of office properties in the U.S., is applying long-standing principles tested throughout many cycles. ‘The company takes a long-term approach to investing,’ Robert Durand, executive vice president of finance at KBS, explained to Commercial Property Executive.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  4. Schools Should Be Fully In-Person by September, CDC Director Says “All of the nation’s school kids should be back in classrooms by the fall, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. ‘We should anticipate, come September 2021, that schools should be full-fledged in person and all of our children back in the classroom,’ Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the federal agency’s director, told ABC News.” (New York Post)
  5. NYC State Budget Includes “Huge” COVID-19 Relief Package for Small Businesses “Restaurants and shops that fell behind on their rent and other expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be able to apply for additional grants. New York’s new state budget includes $800 million in direct cash assistance for small businesses. State Assemblyman Harvey Epstein of Manhattan, who had been lobbying for the aid said the package sets priorities: businesses with 100 or fewer employees; those with 10 or fewer; and those owned by women and minorities.” (New York Post)
  6. Brokerages Push for Diverse Pipeline, But Old-School Pay Structures Slow Progress “CRE firms are boasting about their efforts to diversify the workforce, but minorities say there should be more focus on recruiting diverse entry-level brokers.” (Bisnow)
  7. NY Mall Faces Financial Woes from Theme Park Investments, But Vaccine Rollout Gives Hope “In some of the country’s largest shopping malls, the strategy to add theme-park-like attractions to make up for declining foot traffic looks less like a lifeline and more like a burden. Efforts to woo back customers with amusement park features like mini-golf, laser tag and Ferris wheels have been disrupted by pandemic-driven restrictions. These entertainment extravaganzas cost some malls billions of dollars, and as bills are coming due, malls are sitting in dire straits.” (Fox Business)
  8. As Diners Return, Restaurants Face a New Hurdle: Finding Workers “Restaurant employment has risen each month this year, according to the National Restaurant Association, but staffing levels at full-service restaurants in February were still 20 percent — or 1.1 million jobs — lower than a year ago. (Employment at quick-service and fast-casual restaurants was down just 6 percent over the same period.) Owners and chefs at full-service restaurants say the main reason staffing remains stubbornly low is that there are simply many more job openings than available workers.” (The New York Times)
  9. IHOP Looks to Reach Growth of 10,000 New Hires in Coming Months Ahead of ‘Restaurant Renaissance’ “Dine Brands Global Inc.'s International House of Pancakes LLC, known as IHOP, said Thursday it is looking to reach its goal of 10,000 new employees in the coming months to meet demand from a expected "restaurant renaissance." The new hires will be in a variety of part- and full-time jobs across the more than 1,600 IHOP restaurants in 50 U.S. states.” (MarketWatch)
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