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Equity Office Daily Brief: March 14, 2017

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Daily Brief

March 14, 2017

  EquilityOffice

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At Last, a Possible Solution to Office Thermostat Wars

Wall Street Journal

 

Wars over office temperature may be coming to a thaw. Thanks to advances in workplace architecture and new sensor and app technologies, individual workers are getting more control over the climate around them, which has long been a battleground for office workers. Some...

 


Chinese Now The Largest Group Of Foreign Investors In U.S. Commercial Real Estate

Forbes

 

Chinese investors were the single largest group of foreign investors in commercial real estate in the U.S. last year, with deal volumes reaching a record high of $19.2 billion, up 10% from $17.3 billion in 2015, according to a new report...

 


CBRE Survey: Despite Caveats, Investors Positive about 2017

Commercial Property Executive

 

Most investors in CRE in the Americas expect to be net buyers, industrial has displaced multifamily as the preferred product type, value-add is still the most popular strategy and Los Angeles remains the most favored metro. These are some of the...

 


Amazon May Be Looking to Book Space in L.A.

Los Angeles Business Journal

 

Amazon.com Inc. announced plans last week to open its 10th bookstore in its hometown of Seattle. Los Angeles could be next. Local brokers said the e-commerce giant has poked around several L.A. shopping districts and might have even shown serious interest in...

 


Marcus & Millichap Partners With Prudential

San Fernando Valley Business Journal

 

Marcus & Millichap’s financing subsidiary Marcus & Millichap Capital Corp. has broadened its network of lenders through a preferred correspondent agreement with PGIM Real Estate Finance, a unit of Prudential Financial Inc. The Calabasas brokerage plans to use the PGIM relationship to...

 


Public Storage Opens Biggest Facility in U.S.

San Fernando Valley Business Journal

 

Public Storage this week will open its largest facility in the United States. The Glendale real estate investment trust has opened the remaining units for Public Storage at 133 Second St. in Jersey City, N.J. The facility, which occupies an entire city...

 



BLOG & ONLINE NEWS

 

USC Village Prepares For Debut

Bisnow

 

Furniture and equipment are being moved into USC Village this month, signaling how close the project is to completion. The $700M project is on schedule to be ready for students in the fall. Covering 15 acres, USC Village will have 1.25M...

 


Lending Tightening Up, But Foreign Investment Remains Strong

Bisnow

 

LA is still popular among foreign investors, but CRE experts say this year may be uncharted territory. Gemdale USA Corp. president Michael Krupa said construction lending, in particular, is becoming more challenging to obtain, not only in LA but nationwide. LA remains...

 

FULL TEXT


At Last, a Possible Solution to Office Thermostat Wars

Wall Street Journal

 

Wars over office temperature may be coming to a thaw.

Thanks to advances in workplace architecture and new sensor and app technologies, individual workers are getting more control over the climate around them, which has long been a battleground for office workers.

Some of the new technologies seem straight out of science fiction. One building under renovation in Italy is going to provide workers with their own “thermal bubbles” that can follow them around the building, so workers will each have their own climate-controlled zone. Elsewhere, smartphone apps such as Comfy let workers order a 10-minute blast of hot or cold air. Users click on either “cool my space” or “warm my space” functions on the app, which connects to a building’s ventilation system, says Erica Eaton, Comfy’s director of strategy.

The headquarters for the Agnelli Foundation in Turin, Italy, is being equipped with thousands of sensors that measure things like temperature, light levels and occupancy levels, and can make adjustments to temperature and lighting throughout the building in real time, says Carlo Ratti, who heads the eponymous architecture firm that designed the renovation of the more than 100-year-old building. Employees can set their preferred workplace temperatures on an app. Then, heating and cooling units located in the ceilings can be activated by their phones, allowing a “thermal bubble” to follow them around the building. When an occupant leaves a particular space, it will return to an energy-saving “standby mode,” like a computer, says Mr. Ratti, also a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

If two employees in proximity have conflicting preferences, the system will average them out, “without any thermostat wars,” he says. “Our aim is to shift the focus from heating or cooling spaces, to heating or cooling people and the space they are occupying.”

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At the Edge, the Amsterdam office of professional-services firm Deloitte that opened in December 2014, workers can provide their heating, cooling and lighting preferences and make subtle adjustments to temperature via their smartphones, after downloading a special building app, says Dave Sie, a strategy and operations executive at Deloitte Real Estate Consulting.

The 14-story building’s 28,000 sensors collect anonymized data about workers’ temperature and lighting adjustments, eventually learning aggregated users’ preferences.

Architecture firm NBBJ, which has designed headquarters for firms such as Amazon.com Inc., is experimenting with new temperature, lighting, movement and sound-tracking sensors it calls Goldilocks, says Ryan Mullenix, an NBBJ design partner in Seattle.

Last year NBBJ placed about 50 of the sensors in its New York office. The sensors generate heat maps that workers can track on their phones, helping them to choose workspaces in the office based on their heating, light and sound preferences, which might change throughout the day, Mr. Mullenix says.

NBBJ hopes that the data collected by Goldilocks about its employees’ climate preferences can help the firm design more thoughtful solutions to office climate battles.

“When six people are in one room and they all want six different things regarding climate and light, how do you come to the right consensus? That is the next challenge,” Mr. Mullenix says.

-Rachel Emma Silverman is a former Wall Street Journal reporter living in Austin, Texas. She can be reached at reports@wsj.com.

Chinese Now The Largest Group Of Foreign Investors In U.S. Commercial Real Estate

Forbes

 

Chinese investors were the single largest group of foreign investors in commercial real estate in the U.S. last year, with deal volumes reaching a record high of $19.2 billion, up 10% from $17.3 billion in 2015, according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield. Chinese investment made up about 29% of total foreign investment in U.S. commercial real estate, ahead of Canada, the second largest foreign investor, which invested $13.1 billion.

In a rush to diversify holdings and hedge against a slowing economy and depreciating yuan, Chinese investors have sought better returns overseas and become an important driver in U.S. commercial real estate. Much of their investment in the sector has been through mega deals. Most transactions in 2016, 62% to be exact, were over $1 billion.

Some of the largest deals were by Chinese insurance companies, which were allowed to invest up to 15% of their assets overseas starting in 2012. Between 2015 and 2016, more than half of all investments by Chinese investors were by Chinese life insurers. Angbang Insurance Group closed on most of its $6.5 billion acquisition of Strategic Hotels & Resorts in September (Hotel del Coronado was removed from the deal due to security reasons, lowering the value by an estimated $1 billion) and China Life Insurance bought a portfolio of hotels from Starwood Capital Group for $2 billion in October.

The current wave of investments is likely only the tip of the iceberg. Only 1% of Chinese insurer assets are invested overseas and of that, only a fraction is invested in U.S. real estate. China’s insurance industry is valued at approximately $1.83 trillion, according to figures from the Chinese Insurance Regulatory Commission.

Investment Preferences

The east and west coasts have been the primary recipients of Chinese investments. That continued to be the trend last year with New York City receiving 46% of total Chinese investment, the San Francisco Bay Area getting 15%, Los Angeles 7%, Chicago 5% and Seattle 2%.

New York City, the main recipient of Chinese investment into commercial real estate, was home to many of the largest deals of the year. Of the ten largest transactions in 2016, half were in Manhattan and 63% of those deals were in office buildings.

In the San Francisco area, investment grew to $2.9 billion in 2015, up from $464 million in 2013, while in Los Angeles, investment stayed steady in 2016, down slightly from a high in 2014 when several mega deals raised the total.

In all, hotels and offices remained the most popular assets. Chinese investors poured $8.6 billion into U.S. hotels last year, up from $2.8 billion in 2015. Investment in offices similarly jumped to $7.5 billion in 2016, up from $3.5 billion in 2015. Meanwhile, investment in industrial properties has slowed down dramatically, totaling $859 million in 2016, down from $8.27 billion in 2015.

Slowing Outlook

Though Chinese investment in the U.S. has been rising dramatically, some see that slowing this year due to new capital controls. Designed to stem capital outflows and preserve China's massive dollar reserves, which prop up the yuan, the capital controls are slowing dealflow and making it more difficult for even state-owned enterprises to move money out of China.

Mergers and acquisitions more than $1 billion outside of a company's core business are now banned. The Chinese government is also cracking down on large deals and there is some expectation that the CIRC will cut the 15% overseas investment limit to the low single digits for firms with weak solvency ratios. Though requiring paperwork for special clearance for deals is nothing new for Chinese companies doing investments overseas, that process is now expected to take longer.

As a result of the government capital outflow restrictions, growth will likely slow for the first three quarters of the year as Chinese regulators take longer to approve investments abroad, the report said. Despite this, the overall impact should be muted given that investors were aware of the pending restrictions and had time to take action to meet their goals.

"Chinese investors typically focus on long-term investment so this short-term impediment will be viewed as such – temporary. Traditionally, long-term capital gain is outweighed by the immediacy of short-term cash flow," Xinyi McKinney, senior managing director overseeing China direct investment at Cushman & Wakefield, wrote in a statement.

-Ellen Sheng

CBRE Survey: Despite Caveats, Investors Positive about 2017

Commercial Property Executive

 

Most investors in CRE in the Americas expect to be net buyers, industrial has displaced multifamily as the preferred product type, value-add is still the most popular strategy and Los Angeles remains the most favored metro. These are some of the top-line results from the 2017 CBRE Americas Investor Intentions Survey, released late last week.

CBRE surveyed nearly 1,000 investors who indicated that they are focused on the Americas.

“While investors expect to largely maintain last year’s investment activity levels, they also intend to retreat on the risk curve, becoming more conservative in strategy and risk appetite. This is counterbalanced by the search for yield,” Brian McAuliffe, president, Institutional Properties, Capital Markets, CBRE, said in a prepared statement.

“Echoing concerns that arose at the beginning of 2015, investors perceive the global economy and rising interest rates as the greatest threats to property markets; they also continue to have concerns about asset pricing,” McAuliffe added. “If the anticipated level of inflow into commercial real estate materializes, this should to some extent counteract any pricing pressure resulting from a rise in interest rates.”

Strategies and Risk Preferences 

Half of the investors surveyed are looking primarily for yield, relative to government bonds and other asset classes. Risk tolerance appears to have generally shifted downward.

As in previous years, the largest share of investors is seeking value-add acquisition opportunities. The single asset category that showed a major increase in preference was good secondary assets, which are the primary focus of a quarter of respondents. Interest in core assets fell to third place.

Product Types

Industrial real estate is considered the most attractive by 38 percent of those surveyed. Multifamily fell to second place, and office to third. Only 8 percent of respondents cited retail as an attractive option.

Among secondary product types, only retirement housing showed an uptick in interest, to 17 percent.

Regional/Metro Preferences

Los Angeles kept its standing as the most desired metro area, with Dallas/Fort Worth second and New York third. Washington, D.C., surged to fourth place (from eighth last year), and Atlanta and San Francisco were tied for fifth, followed by Seattle and Houston.

Perceived Risks

Investors’ main concern going into this year is slow global economic growth decreasing occupier demand. Nearly as many investors (21 percent versus 22 percent), however, are worried about faster-than-expected interest rate increases.

-Scott Baltic

Amazon May Be Looking to Book Space in L.A.

Los Angeles Business Journal

 

Amazon.com Inc. announced plans last week to open its 10th bookstore in its hometown of Seattle. Los Angeles could be next.

Local brokers said the e-commerce giant has poked around several L.A. shopping districts and might have even shown serious interest in a major mall.

An Amazon spokeswoman would not discuss its plans, but Steve McClurkin, a leasing broker at EB Development in San Diego who represents Amazon’s bookstores, confirmed the e-tailer has been in the market for space in the region.

“We have been evaluating the Southern California market for a little over a year,” he said, adding that Amazon has scouted for options throughout the country.

Old Pasadena, Melrose Avenue, and Westfield Century City have been areas of interest, according to market sources.

“They were actively looking in Pasadena,” said Avison Young agent Derrick Moore, who has the listing for the former Kenneth Cole space on Colorado Avenue.

He said an Amazon representative was seeking about 5,000 to 6,000 square feet of ground-floor space a few months ago.

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s Jay Luchs said an Amazon representative asked several months ago to see listings on Melrose’s trendy shopping strip between West Hollywood and the Fairfax District.

Another possible landing spot is Westfield Corp.’s Century City mall, which is in the midst of a makeover projected to cost $1 billion. A broker who represents retail tenants said a Westfield representative recently indicated that Amazon would be taking space among the renovated storefronts.

A Westfield spokeswoman declined to comment on Amazon.

Amazon already holds space in other high-end Westfield properties – UTC mall in San Diego and Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J.

There have also been rumors, still unconfirmed, that Amazon took a look at Westwood.

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said in a shareholders meeting in May that the company is going to open additional stores, but has been tight-lipped on details.

Retail analyst Neil Saunders of GlobalData estimated that Amazon will open several hundred bookstores nationwide in the next decade, targeting markets with tech-savvy consumers and above-average income levels, such as Los Angeles.

“It’s about creating networks of space that they can use to support the whole brand,” he said.

Part of the strategy is to continue collecting data on Amazon customers, added Joe Schmitt, a retail analyst at AlixPartners.

“The information they have now online is second to none, but their ability to link that to in-store shopping habits is a hole,” he said.

-Real estate reporter Daina Beth Solomon can be reached at dsolomon@labusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @dainabethcita for the latest in L.A. real estate news.

Marcus & Millichap Partners With Prudential

San Fernando Valley Business Journal

 

Marcus & Millichap’s financing subsidiary Marcus & Millichap Capital Corp. has broadened its network of lenders through a preferred correspondent agreement with PGIM Real Estate Finance, a unit of Prudential Financial Inc.

The Calabasas brokerage plans to use the PGIM relationship to facilitate loans for multifamily properties.

“Our partnership with PGIM Real Estate Finance is a significant win for our clients, and is in line with our goal to consistently deliver the lowest cost capital solutions, competitive pricing, and efficient execution,” Richard Katzenstein, national director of Marcus & Millichap Capital Corp., said in a statement.

Shares of Marcus & Millichap closed Friday up 11 cents, or a fraction of a percent, to $26.40 on the New York Stock Exchange.

-Joel Russel

Public Storage Opens Biggest Facility in U.S.

San Fernando Valley Business Journal

 

Public Storage this week will open its largest facility in the United States.

The Glendale real estate investment trust has opened the remaining units for Public Storage at 133 Second St. in Jersey City, N.J. The facility, which occupies an entire city block, has 3,978 rentable units.

The company developed the Jersey City property by converting a 100-year-old cold-storage warehouse into storage units, according to Public Storage’s official blog. The company performed the conversion because of Jersey City’s proximity to New York City, where land values are much higher.

The facility first opened in February and only has about 300 units still available. The company plans to hold a ribbon cutting on March 25.

Public Storage shares closed Monday down 81 cents, or a fraction of a percent, at $217.26 on the New York Stock Exchange.

-Joel Russel

USC Village Prepares For Debut

Bisnow

 

Furniture and equipment are being moved into USC Village this month, signaling how close the project is to completion. The $700M project is on schedule to be ready for students in the fall. Covering 15 acres, USC Village will have 1.25M SF across six buildings and 2,700 beds for students, Building Design + Construction Magazine reports. It will include eight residential colleges and 100K SF of retail space for 30 tenants, including Starbucks, Target and Trader Joe’s, restaurants and a 30K SF fitness center. There will be parking for at least 1,200 bikes. The construction process began three years ago and prefabrication helped save almost a year of the construction process.

-Karen Jordan

Lending Tightening Up, But Foreign Investment Remains Strong

Bisnow

 

LA is still popular among foreign investors, but CRE experts say this year may be uncharted territory.

Gemdale USA Corp. president Michael Krupa said construction lending, in particular, is becoming more challenging to obtain, not only in LA but nationwide. LA remains a very important market for Gemdale and other foreign equity investors and equity investors worldwide, according to Krupa. "The Los Angeles real estate market fundamentals remain relatively strong across various property types," Krupa said.

Given the economic climate, the next 18 to 24 months could be cause for concern, according to Gaw Capital Partners senior vice president Mike Hu. "As a result, we have been actively harvesting deals if the returns are at or above our original underwriting," Hu said. Lenders are becoming more conservative. "We've seen lower LTV ratios compared to the last cycle, and lenders have been more picky about the sponsor behind a deal," Hu said. Hear from Hu, Krupa and other expert panelists at Bisnow's Capital Markets and Foreign Investment event at 7:30 a.m. March 16 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in DTLA.

 

-Karen Jordan

Daily Brief March 14, 2017 unsubscribe

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