1. This L.A. artist is taking a stand against small-lot development, one bunch of balloons at a time “Los Angeles is debating the merits of adding denser housing developments across the city, with high-rise and medium-rise residential towers going up at a rapid pace in neighborhoods such as Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles and Koreatown. Backers say the greater density is necessary as Los Angeles faces a housing shortage. Critics argue the projects are changing the character of their neighborhoods, worsening traffic and reducing the amount of affordable housing. L.A. voters might decide the issue next year with plans for a ballot measure that would place limits on larger developments. But even the small-lot tear-down is generating some controversy. Small-lot developments are a hybrid of condominiums and single-family homes. A 2005 city law allows multiple detached homes to be built on a single lot in communities zoned for multi-family and commercial uses. In many neighborhoods, developers are tearing down older, single-family homes to make way for the skinny properties.” (Los Angeles Times)
  2. Chinese investment in Boston commercial real estate expected to continue “China’s volatile stock market has only increased the desire for foreign capital inflow from China to U.S. Chinese foreign investment in U.S. commercial real estate has increased steadily from $3 billion in 2013 to $6.6 billion in 2014 to $8.6 billion in 2015.  Chinese investment in commercial real estate developments has also increased, and is second only to Canada in this field. The Boston area has benefited from this increase, with notable developments such as the $300 million joint venture between Samuels & Associates and Landsea for Pierce Boston in the Fenway neighborhood.  With this continued trend, Boston should continue to see the influx of Chinese capital in its commercial real estate.” (New England Real Estate Journal)
  3. Tech Slowdown Seen in San Francisco's Commercial-Property Market “San Francisco’s commercial real estate market may be foretelling a slowdown in the city’s heated technology-driven economy. Office subleasing, an early indicator of past downturns, is at the highest level since 2010. The amount of available space from subleases in the city jumped to 1.9 million square feet (176,500 square meters) last month, a 46 percent increase from the end of the third quarter, according to a report from Cushman & Wakefield Inc. Twitter Inc., Intuit Inc., and Zenefits are among tech companies putting excess space on the market.” (Bloomberg Business)
  4. Looking to Real Estate as a Hedge? Check Out These 5 U.S. Cities “With everything that has happened in China and the lingering impact of fluctuating oil prices, investors may look to real estate to hedge their bets against uncertainty -- and for good reason, as few investment vehicles can compete with real estate amid volatility. As a result, real estate and real estate investment trusts should become see an influx of investor capital. Certain cities, however, have positioned themselves better than others to take full advantage of the extra investor attention.” (The Street)
  5. Discount grocery chain Aldi opens first eight Southern California stores “The German discount grocer opened eight Southland stores Thursday, the first of 45 locations set to open in the region this year. The initial wave is clustered around Aldi's regional distribution center in Moreno Valley. In coming to Southern California, Aldi is venturing into one of the most ferociously competitive grocery markets in the country. Gelson's, Bristol Farms and Trader Joe's are local favorites. Dozens of farmers markets dot the region. Retail giants Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. have bulked up their grocery options, while huge online players Google and Amazon.com are expanding grocery delivery.” (Los Angeles Times)
  6. More Americans Are Again Moving to Suburbs Than Cities “Economists to real-estate agents have debated  whether the housing boom and bust of the last decade has dramatically remade the way Americans live or merely created a temporary disruption. U.S. Census data released Thursday provides strong support for the latter thesis—that shifts in where Americans move were merely temporary, according to analysis by Jed Kolko, a senior fellow at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley. For one thing, the rate at which Americans are moving to the suburbs is once again outpacing the rate at which they are moving to cities. That picks up on a decades-long trend that only very temporarily reversed during the recession.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  7. No prison, please: Skelos lawyer requests probation, community service “Convicted criminal Dean Skelos is hoping for a reprieve for past good behavior. Skelos was found guilty on eight corruption counts in December for pressuring supporters — including developer Glenwood Management — to hand his son Adam no-show jobs. The former State Senate majority leader’s legal team asked a judge to spare Skelos a prison term and instead sentence him to probation and 4,160 hours of community service.” (The Real Deal)
  8. Lincoln Property Teams Up with Rockwood to Take Back 915 Wilshire “Lincoln Property Co. and affiliates of Rockwood Capital LLC, have acquired 915 Wilshire, a 22-story office building in downtown Los Angeles and plan to give the Class A tower a makeover to expand its appeal to creative tenants. Lincoln is very familiar with the granite and glass tower–the Dallas-based firm owned it before selling the asset in 2007 to Brickman Associates, which kept Lincoln on as property manager and leasing agent….The 390,312-square-foot building was erected in 1980 and last renovated by Lincoln more than a decade ago. It sits within walking distance of public transportation and will also be near the planned Los Angeles Streetcar expected to run from LA Live to the Civic Center. The building is also close to the 110 Freeway.” (Commercial Property Executive)
  9. Portland-Area Apartments Command Record Price “A private investor has acquired the Barclay Square Apartments, a 70-unit apartment property in Woodburn, Ore., for $6.27 million, from an investor with holdings in Oregon and Washington. At $89,571 per unit, the transaction represents the highest apartment price ever recorded in the city of Woodburn….‘The record price achieved here in Woodburn is a reflection of prices currently being achieved throughout Oregon’s secondary and tertiary markets,’ Georgie Christensen, a multifamily specialist in Marcus & Millichap’s Portland Office, said.” (Multi-Housing News)
  10. Restaurants tops retail performance report in Florida “While most industries posted increases, department stores, electronic stores and convenience stores saw revenues decline. Convenience stores posted an about 12.7 percent decrease in year-over-year revenue. Restaurants posted four of the top five largest revenue increases in the state with all posting increases in the 8 to 12 percent range. Entertainment and dining had an increase of 12.2 percent, quick service had an increase of 12.1 percent, fast casual had an increase of 12 percent, fine dining had an increase of 8.5 percent.” (Jacksonville Business Journal)