First Industrial Realty Trust Inc. wants to sell about a fourth of its portfolio as a way of reducing its current debt. According to ChicagoRealEstateDaily.com, the Chicago, Illinois-based First Industrial said it has 195 properties totaling 16.4 million square feet along with 724 acres that it calls “non-strategic,” all of which were unidentified. First Industrial, a real estate investment trust, took a non-cash impairment charge of $164 million in the third quarter of 2010.
According to the St. Louis Business Journal, hoteliers, tourism officials and city budget crunchers all await the outcome of Tuesday's vote on whether to raise hotel taxes by up to 5% in specific areas of St. Louis County, Missouri. Both hotel owners and the St. Louis Area Hotel Association claim that the increase in taxes will hurt tourism to the city. City officials on the other hand claim they need the hike to cover gaps in the budget.
Ohio once again found itself in the bottom 10 of state business climates, but showed signs of improving momentum in the past year. According to the Business Courier, Tax Foundation research group released its State Business Tax Climate Index, which placed Ohio 46th. The score combines states' income, sales, property, corporate and unemployment insurance tax rates, all of which are scored from zero to 10 for how conductive and hostile to business they are.
Houston, Texas-based Hines Global REIT has bought the massive Southpark Commerce Center II in Southeast Austin, furthering positive signs of activity in the submarket. According to the Austin Business Journal, the site is a four-building, Class A industrial/flex office park purchased from KBS Southpark Commerce Center II LLC. The Center was completed in 2000 making it one of the youngest complexes of its kind in the market. Southpark contains 372,125 square feet and is 94% leased.
Education Realty Trust has agreed to sell nine existing student housing properties for $84.8 million and has also completed the purchase of a housing complex at the University of Virginia for $45.5 million. According to the Memphis Business Journal, the company will use proceeds from the sale of the nine properties to reduce debt and finance new developments. The buyer is an unnamed, New York-based, private real estate investment fund.
General Growth Properties Inc. is preparing to emerge from Chapter 11 in early November, becoming one of the first and one of the largest REITs to climb out of bankruptcy. According to GlobeSt.com, GGP will emerge from the financial restructuring with a strong balance sheet and substantially less debt thanks to $6.8 billion in equity from a variety of institutions. This proves that, in the right circumstance, bankruptcy works and can be the only way to protect everyone's interest.
The third quarter showed an increase in the number of California hotels in default or foreclosure, but the even more threatening concern is the shadow inventory of properties that are in trouble but have yet to hit the default market. According to GlobeSt.com, of the approximately 10,000 hotels in California, 1,000 have a huge inventory of distressed deals and have yet to hit the default market in addition to the 529 in default or foreclosed already.
Opera Solutions has just finalized a lease for 11,161 square feet on the 17th floor of the 1.1-million-square foot, 41-story office tower located at 180 Maiden Lane in Manhattan, New York. According to GlobeSt.com, the new lease leaves about 19,000 square feet in the building for a vacancy rate of less than 2% in a Manhattan market where vacancy averages at about 9%.
Cincinnati, Ohio-based Phillips Edison & Co. has formed a REIT to raise $1.8 billion and finance the purchase of more than 150 grocery-anchored shopping centers nationwide. According to the Business Courier this is by far the biggest offering ever attempted by Phillips Edison who has previously raised money through private placements and other forms of registered offerings, the largest of which was a $750 million fund.
With construction picking back up and rental prices slowly rising, it appears that the commercial real estate market is heading towards recovery in 2011. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers report, "Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2011" it is beginning to become more prevalent that the past three years of loss in the commercial real estate industry is changing course. The report reveals that industry professionals and investors are becoming more hopeful of moderate improvements.
While there was little buying and selling of Industrial and Warehouse space in the third quarter in Southern California, they at least fared better than other areas of the region's commercial real estate market. According to The Press-Enterprise, Retail and office space activity remained dismal during the third quarter mainly because those industries are more closely tied to a struggling-to-catch-up economy.
Although the hotel industry across the nation is still struggling to get back to normal due to the lack of leisure and business travel, some hotels and resorts are taking on major redesigns and other big projects. While there are a few top business travel hotels that are undergoing total and major upgrades from coast-to-coast, industry experts predict that these and other similar refurbishments will continue to be unusual for years.
Once thought of as the undoubtedly highest office rents in the country, New York City has been overtaken by Washington D.C. last quarter, according to Cassidy Turley figures. The Washington Business Journal reports that average asking rents in the District are $48.96 per square foot (up 3.9% from a year ago) compared to $48.53 in New York City. National average office rents are down 1.8% from a year ago.
Updating on an August post about Southeast Georgia's Sea Island filing for bankruptcy, it has now been made public by the AP that the resort has been sold in auction for $212 million. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the bidders; Oaktree Capital Management, Capital Avenue Group, Starwood Capital Group and the Anschutz Corporation all partnered on the deal.
A CB Richard Ellis report showed commercial real estate in the Phoenix, Arizona market as relatively stable during the third quarter. According to the Phoenix Business Journal, office vacancy rates remained unchanged at 25.9% with the average asking price at $22.25 per square foot. The market absorbed about 148,000 square feet which is a significant improvement from the same time last year.
Multiple sources are reporting that Blackstone Group LP, the world's largest private-equity firm, has agreed to buy 180 properties from warehouse giant ProLogis for $1 billion. The deal is significant in that it signals confidence in a sector that was battered during the recession by a fall-off in trade and inventories. Blackstone has been acquiring property assets after values fell and vacancies rose amid the historical economic slump.
With the growing concern that federal bank regulators are making the challenges facing America's commercial real estate sector worse, Congressman Kevin Brady has introduced legislation to stabilize commercial lending and strengthen private investment in the commercial real estate market. According to politicalnews.me, Brady believes the current cookie cutter regulatory restriction creates harsh pressure on community and regional banks to deny loans to long-standing commercial real estate customers.
Coventry Development Corp has unveiled plans for a 1,800-acre, master-planned community in North Houston, Texas. According to GlobeSt.com, the plans for the community is to include up to 5,000 homes, 8.5 million square feet of commercial office space, 1.2 million square feet of retail space and 500 to 600 hotel rooms. The development process will take place over the next two decades and plans to cost around $10 billion.
Atlanta, Georgia-based Piedmont Office Realty Trust has bought three class-A office buildings for nearly $74 million. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Piedmont's purchases include Suwanee Gateway in Atlanta and One & Two Meridian Crossings in Richfield, Minnesota.
More tenants are moving into the 280,000-square-foot retail building at State and Washington streets in Chicago, Illinois. According to GlobeSt.com, Summit Design + Build LL has completed two build-outs, and started three more, for tenants at the complex. The property also includes a new office building as well as a new Chicago Transit Authority pedestrian walkway and train connection.
Used to receiving their property tax bills around the end of October, this year Cook County, Illinois property owners will not be receiving their tax bills until around Thanksgiving, nearly a full month later than last year. While debates continue over reasons for the delay, many speculate that despite the economic downturn, new tax assessment ratios introduced this year will result in increased property tax bills.