Architect teams with Chinese college to design retail center The Chicago-based architectural firm of Loebl Schlossman & Hackl has teamed with Shenzhen University Institute of Architectural Design to design the $80 million, 1.2 million sq. ft. Sun Century Commercial City in Changchun, China. The retail center is a development of China-based Apollo City Co. Ltd. Jilin Construction Co. of China has been selected as the general contractor for the project. Completion on Sun Century is scheduled for March.

The modern architecture of Sun Century will capitalize on Changchun's tremendous population growth by providing four levels of retail and several dining and entertainment venues. The central focus of the center is an enclosed, year-round atrium located near the main entry.

AFIRE releases top U.S. cities for foreign investment New York, San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C. rank one through four, respectively, when it comes to cities foreign investors plan on buying commercial real estate in, according to a survey released last month by the Washington, D.C.-based organization the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE). The ninth annual survey was conducted among the association's members.

"The resounding note of our annual conference was the significance of the 24-hour city," says David Agnew, chairman of the board of AFIRE and CEO of the AMSTAR Group. "That is a characteristic these cities have in common with each other."

Of the foreign investors responding, 90% say they would increase or maintain their year 2000-level of investment in U.S. real estate in 2001. According to the survey, the U.S. provides the most stable and secure real estate investment. The U.S. was also voted the country with the best opportunity for capital appreciation, along with Japan. Most investors say they do not expect the U.S. to have a quarter with negative GDP until at least 2004.

One significant change projected by the survey was the downturn in German investment. Respondents agree that Germany's investment will decrease in 2001 because of several factors:

- the falling euro is making U.S. and non-European Union (EU) real estate more expensive;

- spurred by the technical market, other opportunities are competing for deutschmarks in Germany;

- the U.S. is not the buyer's market it was in the 1990s.

According to the survey, for the sixth year in a row foreign investors agree that the office market is by far the preferred investment. In contrast, for the fourth time in six years they agree that hotels are the property type they are least likely to invest in.

Bass Hotels unveils $70 million Asia-Pacific expansion plan Atlanta-based Bass Hotels & Resorts International announced that it plans to expand and enhance the company's Inter-Continental hotel brand portfolio in the Asia-Pacific market. Bass plans to invest more than $70 million (U.S.) to build or refurbish 14 new hotels in five markets in the next two years. The markets will include China, India, Malaysia, French Polynesia and New Zealand.

"Asia-Pacific is one of our key markets due to the potentially explosive growth in business travel and tourism in the next two years," says Thomas Oliver, chairman and CEO of Bass Hotels & Resorts International.

The first target for the expansion plan will be the opening of the 333-room Grand Palace Inter-Continental Resort in Srinagar. The expansion plan is scheduled to be completed by January of 2003, along with the completion of another Inter-Continental Resort in French Polynesia.

Upon completion, there will be a total of 29 Inter-Continental hotels across 14 Asian-Pacific markets.

Analysts predict $700 million hotel investment in India New York-based Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels estimates that there will be a $700 million investment in the Indian hotel industry during the next three to four years, with an additional 4,000 rooms expected by 2004 in the five-star deluxe and five-star market.

Researchers anticipate future growth in room supply will be driven by cities such as Mumbai, Dehli and Chennai. Although operation performances in those cities has decreased, improved economic performance is expected to stimulate a marginal increase in room nights demanded during the coming year.

In major Indian leisure destinations such as Goa and Jaipur, the premium hotel market experienced growth in occupancy and ADR during 1999 and 2000. With the proposed infrastructure development and medium- to long-term growth expected by international and domestic visitors, Goa and Jaipur is expected to facilitate modest growth in occupancy and ADR during 2001.

"The continued weakening of the rupee against the U.S. dollar is expected to make India a cheaper destination for leisure travelers compared with other Asian markets," says Yeshwant Nadkarni, an associate in the India office of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels.

French retailer LVMH to purchase Donna Karan LVMH Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, the French luxury retailer, plans to purchase the trademark licensing rights to Donna Karan International (DKI) for $450 million in an attempt to expand the company's presence in the United States.

LVMH has also submitted a proposal to the board of directors of Donna Karan to acquire the company for $8.50 per share in cash (approximately $145 million within a year).

LVMH is actually purchasing Gabrielle Studio, the privately owned licensor of Donna Karan trademarks. Once the purchase is finalized, Gabrielle Studio will merge with DKI.

Insignia Financial eyes and buys Brooke International New York-based Insignia Financial Group Inc. has acquired Brooke International, a Hong Kong-based commercial real estate company, that has additional offices in mainland China and Thailand. The purchase price was undisclosed.

Founded in 1988, Brooke International has 88 employees with four offices in Asia. The company will change its name to Insignia Brooke. The acquisition is part of Insignia's plan to establish a service-delivery platform in the Asia Pacific region. Insignia already opened an office in Tokyo to service its clients in Japan.