Miami's Big Deal
Malaysian developer The Genting Group knows what sells deals today: job creation. Its proposed $3 billion Resorts World Miami includes four hotels, more than 50 restaurants, 250,000 sf of retail, and 700,000 sf of convention space. But what’s equally important is the number of jobs it brings to the region: 15,000 in construction and 30,000 permanent jobs, some of them in a proposed casino that the Florida legislature has yet to approve.
Genting purchased the 13-acre Miami Herald property on Biscayne Bay for $236 million and the entire $206 million mortgage on the nearby bankrupt Omni Center, which it plans to re-open in fall 2012 as the resort’s casino — immediately adding 5,000 new jobs to the local economy. “We are responding to the concerns and trying to create jobs as fast as possible,” said Colin Au, a Genting principal, to the Miami Herald. “The Omni is what’s called a decorator-ready solution.”
Francesca’s Collections, a Houston-based clothing store that went public in July, may be the prototype of the future, says retail consultant Jeff Green in Chain Store Age. The company is thinking big in terms of store numbers: Its IPO estimates growing from 249 locations in 38 states to 900 locations. But size-wise, Francesca’s thinks small, Green says, usually occupying less than 1,500 sf, which gives it flexibility in location and very healthy sales per square foot. The company reported net sales of $508 psf in January in its SEC filings. But it’s a mixed blessing for landlords, Green adds: “More productive stores makes centers more appealing to other retailers.” But at 1,500 sf per retailer, “finding enough retailers to fill [space] might be a challenge.”
Energy Loans Available
Lantana is the first Florida town to launch a Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE program directed toward commercial property owners. The program provides upfront funding to property owners to retrofit their buildings with energy-efficient materials or renewable energy projects. Private companies provide the funding — no government funds are used. The loans are paid back over 20 years through assessments on property tax bills.
Florida is one of 25 states that have passed legislation in the last three years allowing for energy retrofits financed by property tax surcharges. The retrofits can range from new windows and insulation to installation of solar panels. Such projects often pay for themselves in reduced energy costs in as little as five years. To find out what states have PACE programs, go to www.pacenow.org.
In October, Uniqlo opened its two largest flagship stores on New York’s Fifth Avenue and on 34th St., hiring more than 1,000 workers to staff the stores. The retailer’s parent company, Japan-based Fast Retailing, signed a $300 million, 15-year lease for the 89,000-sf Fifth Avenue location, which is just down the street from Tiffany’s and the world’s only 24-hour Apple store. Fast Retailing’s name is appropriate: With more than 1,000 stores worldwide and an aim to quadruple that number by 2020, the company plans to add 200 Uniqlo outlets in the U.S. by 2020, targeting San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago as next stops. Oh yes, by the way, Uniqlo sells clothes.
Chicago: Fewer Doing More
Commercial real estate jobs in the Windy City have declined 22 percent since 2006, according to a report in ChicagoRealEstateDaily.com. More than 77,000 industry jobs have been lost in the last five years: 44 percent in the construction trades but the rest in property management, brokerage, and real estate finance. In the next two years, Chicago will add about 2,900 commercial real estate jobs, predicts Moody’s Analytics. Despite reduced employment, Chicago’s commercial real estate sales topped $3 billion for the first half of the year, with office sales up 75 percent, according to Real Capital Analytics.