Hurricane Sandy Emergency Loan Fund

Companies can get assistance with the Emergency Loan Fund and New York City Matching Grant, The City of New York, Goldman Sachs and the New York Bankers Association are providing $15 billion in emergency loans to help New York City businesses damaged by Hurricane Sandy, NYC Business Solutions and the New York City Development Corporation (NYBDC) will administer the loan program.

If you are a small business in need of an emergency loan to recover from business interruption, you can now access loans of up to $25,000. This loan is intended to serve as a bridge to larger sums of capital and help get businesses back on their feet in the short term. Those business owners that need additional funds are strongly encouraged to review and apply for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Disaster Recovery Loan Program.  

Loans are interest free for the first six months and 1% interest for the following 24 months. Businesses that are approved for a loan and have been displaced from their workplace for three weeks or more can also receive up to an additional $10,000 through the NYC Matching Grant.

Posted on December 18, 2012 .

Discount variety store chains invading New York marketplace

New York City was the home of the famed "69 cent store", which was then followed by "Job-Out". These discount variety stores cease to operate and have been replaced by Dollar and discount variety stores.  

Deal$, the discount chain with more than 180 stores across the United States, has signed a lease for 10,624 square feet at 301 West 145th Street on the southeast corner of Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem. The store is scheduled to open in the spring, sits at the base of The Langston Condominium featuring retail tenants including Bank of America, Starbucks and the New York Sport Club.

Deal$ which is owned by NASDAQ traded Dollar Tree, operated 4,451 stores in 48 states and 5 Canadian Provinces. Dollar Tree, Family Dollar and Dollar General have all grown into dominating dollar store chains. Dollar General is the largest dollar store chain in the U.S. plans

to open 625 new stores this year. Family Dollar is the second largest chain operating around 7,100 stores and plans include opening 450 to 500 stores this year.

Dollar Stores Out-selling Other Retail Sectors A 2011 survey conducted by America's Research Group, reveals that Americans plan to stretch their dollars by shopping at discount chains rather than the pricier department stores and specialty chains, with 753 out of 1,000 survey participants picking discounters as potential shopping destinations.

Britt Beemer, president of America's Research Group, notes that even low price leaders will be faced with intense competition, saying, "Wal-Mart has a new enemy called the dollar store." A study by Colliers International reveals that dollar stores have encountered such fast pace expansion that they are also currently outnumbering national drug store chains.

Marketing Daily reports that dollar store chain reports that its fastest growing segment is customers who are making more than $70,000 per year. Dollar General reposts that wealthy shoppers continue to flock to their stores, making those with household incomes above $70,000 annually the chain's fastest growing customer demographic. Half of the chain's new customers are from non-core, higher income families, with 22.4 percent in the $70,000 or more household category, said Rick Dreiling, chairman, ceo.

Low prices initially are the attraction - the stores sell nearly a quarter of their products for a buck or under - convenience has become more crucial. "We've made a radical shift," said Dreiling. "We proudly sell both national brands and private-label, focusing on everyday necessities at compelling prices. We have a broad selection, but not very deep." Prices usually fall 41 percent under drugstore prices and 22 percent less than grocery store prices, but supercenters typically match dollar stores in cost.

Supermarket News reported that Shoppers are turning more frequently to dollar stores to fulfill needs for items like cleaning supplies and personal care items, according to results of a recent survey Perception Research Services International.

The survey indicated that supermarkets are still where most shoppers (91%) have purchased groceries in the past three months (in line with last year's 92%), and mass merchandisers are still their largest competitive threat (73% purchase groceries there - down from 76% in 2011). But this year's data show that dollar stores are gaining momentum as the percentage of shoppers who purchase groceries at dollar stores has increased, from 32% in 2011 to 35% in 2012. Levels at drug and convenience are holding steady relative to last year, PRS added.

 

Posted on December 18, 2012 .

Latest Federal Reserve Beige Book-Economic Growth still modest

Eight times a year, the Federal Reserve issued the Beige Book, with a formal title “Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions by Federal Reserve District”, a snapshot of business conditions in each of the Federal Reserve, 12 regional bank districts.

The idea is to detect trends in consumer spending, manufacturing and real estate, among other areas.

November has been quite a business month with the election, the military actions in the Middle East, the economic climate in Europe, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy; the latest Beige Book was released on Wednesday, November 28th, based on information collected before November 14, 2012.

Economic activity expanded at a measured pace in recent weeks, according to reports from contacts in the twelve Federal Reserve Districts. Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco grew at a modest pace, while St. Louis and Minneapolis indicated a somewhat stronger increase in activity. In contrast, Boston reported a slower rate of growth. Weaker conditions in New York were attributed to widespread disruptions at the end of October and into November caused by Hurricane Sandy. Philadelphia reported general weakness that was exacerbated by the hurricane. Contacts in a number of Districts expressed concern and uncertainty about the federal budget, especially the fiscal cliff.

Among key sectors, consumer spending grew at a moderate pace in most Districts, while manufacturing weakened, on balance.

Several Districts reported slight gains in residential and commercial real estate.

Travel and tourism varied by District. Non-financial services also differed among Districts, in transportation; reports were, again, mixed. In addition, hurricane disruptions slowed freight shipments in some Districts, while simultaneously boosting demand for shipments of emergency supplies. In banking and financial services, higher demand for home mortgage loans and auto loans increased consumer lending in some Districts, although small business loan demand was generally described as weaker to only moderately higher. Credit quality improved on net.

Consumer Spending and Tourism 


Consumer spending increased at a moderate pace in most Districts in recent weeks, with mixed reports from Dallas. In New York, sales were ahead of plan prior to Hurricane Sandy, and merchants expect to recoup sales lost during the storm as residents replace destroyed or damaged property.

.

Automobile sales varied by District. New York contacts said sales had flattened. Used car sales remained robust in New York

Looking to the holiday sales season, the Districts whose contacts gave an outlook noted mostly upbeat expectations. New York retailers anticipated recovering lost sales during the holiday season, Contacts in Boston, Cleveland, and Chicago remarked on their uncertain sales expectations because of the potential for tax changes in 2013, as the national budget outlook remained uncertain.

Tourism slowed in some Districts while strengthening in others. New York District tourism was mixed prior to Hurricane Sandy; hotel bookings initially dropped off following the storm, but business bounced back the next week. In addition, late cancellation of the New York marathon likely brought large numbers of visitors to the city in early November. Hurricane Sandy affected areas of the Philadelphia District along the coastlines of Delaware and southern New Jersey, in some cases demolishing houses and devastating businesses. New Jersey also suffered losses in revenue from the closure of Atlantic City casinos and the cancellation or delay of conventions there; expectations were that most areas along the Jersey shore would be rebuilt and ready for the summer season.

Nonfinancial Services 


Reports from nonfinancial services providers differed among Districts. Boston reports were generally weaker than expected for tech services, while New York businesses indicated that the effects of Hurricane Sandy had negatively impacted both workers and customers. In the New York District, prolonged power and communications outages and extreme flooding hurt firms and residents, particularly on Long Island and in northern New Jersey.

Manufacturing


Conditions in the manufacturing sector were mixed, though on balance, most Districts reported that conditions had weakened since the previous report. The Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis and Kansas City Districts reported that activity had either slowed or declined somewhat, with most reports leaning toward the latter.

 Manufacturing contacts from five of the twelve Districts expressed concern about the outlook for 2013, in part, due to the uncertainty regarding the outcome of the fiscal cliff.

Real Estate and Construction


Overall, markets for single-family homes continued to improve across most Districts with the exception of Boston and Philadelphia. Residential real estate markets in the New York District were mixed but generally firm prior to the storm. Selling prices were steady or rising. Boston, New York, Richmond, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Dallas noted declining or tight inventories.

Construction and commercial real estate activity generally improved across Districts since the last report.

Several Districts noted segments of little change in commercial real estate activity. Commercial and industrial conditions were mixed throughout most of New York prior to the hurricane. New York added that, while office markets across upstate New York were unaffected by the storm, there were some signs of recent softening.

Banking and Financial Services


Loan demand generally was either mixed or slightly stronger across most Districts in recent weeks. Among those noting mixed results, New York reported that demand for consumer and especially commercial and industrial loans weakened, but commercial and residential mortgage demand was steady.

Used car loan demand was weak in the Dallas District, although first mortgage and energy-related lending increased. San Francisco cited weak-to-moderate business loan demand, but consumer lending expanded further with the help of auto loans and home mortgage refinancing; however, San Francisco noted that lending activity as a whole was unchanged. Most remaining Districts, including Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Kansas City reported moderate increases in total loan demand. In the Philadelphia District, banks reported widespread bank and ATM closings due to Hurricane Sandy.

 With respect to loan quality, New York reported that delinquency rates increased in the consumer and commercial and industrial segments but held steady in the residential and commercial mortgage segments.

Employment, Wages, and Prices


Modest improvements in hiring activity were reported by most Districts. Labor markets were generally described as improving modestly by Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Dallas. Staffing firms, according to Boston and Cleveland, experienced improved business conditions

Finally, contacts in a number of Districts reported difficulties finding qualified workers in some specialized occupations.

Wage pressures were generally characterized as "subdued" or "contained" throughout much of the nation, according to the latest District reports. Virtually every District described wage growth as modest at best.

As with wages, price pressures changed little from the modest pace that was reported in the last assessment. Almost every District described price growth as modest, although examples of higher price growth were occasionally cited.

Reports for the Second District: New York

The Beige Book for the Second District which includes New York, reported that economic activity in the district has weakened since the last report, (which was issued in early October), largely reflecting widespread disruptions from Hurricane Sandy.

Prices of finished goods and services have generally been stable. The labor market is difficult to gauge at this point--while hiring activity tapered off noticeably due to the storm, relatively few business contacts indicate that they plan to reduce headcounts in the months ahead.

Retailers report fairly strong sales for October but indicate that business in the last two weeks has been severely hampered by storm disruptions; auto dealers in upstate New York report some softening in auto sales in October.

Tourism activity in New York City was fairly strong prior to the storm; hotel business tapered off only modestly in early November, as the adverse effects of travel cancellations were partly offset by increased demand from local residents without power or access to their homes.

 Residential real estate markets were generally firm through the latter part of October, though the storm has caused a substantial slowing in sales activity in and around New York City. Finally, bankers report some weakening in loan demand and increased delinquency rates in the consumer and commercial & industrial loan segments; for residential and commercial mortgages, both loan demand and delinquency rates are little changed.

Consumer Spending


Retail sales are reported to have been ahead of plan in October but exceptionally weak in early November in the New York City area, mainly due to widespread power outages, store closings and accessibility problems for both customers and workers.  With the holiday sales season coming up--and with many residents in the region needing to replace destroyed or damaged property--all the lost sales are expected to be made up in the weeks ahead. One major chain reports that it is hiring more holiday-season staff than in 2011. The pricing environment is described as stable.

Auto dealers reported that used car sales reportedly remain fairly robust. There has also been some softening in business at dealers' service departments. Wholesale and retail credit conditions remain favorable.

Tourism activity in New York City was mixed in October but dropped off noticeably following the late-October storm. Hotels across much of lower Manhattan lost business in late October and early November, when they were without power for a number of days. Overall revenue for Manhattan hotels slumped nearly 10 percent below 2011 levels during the week of the storm but bounced back in the subsequent week.

The New York City marathon, although cancelled at the last minute, likely brought large numbers of visitors to the city during the first weekend in November. Attendance and revenues at Broadway theaters, which had already weakened modestly in October, fell sharply during the week of the storm; attendance rebounded modestly in the second week of November but remained roughly 15 percent below last year's level. In my discussion with a principal at one of the theater companies, attendance has returned with near record attendance during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Finally, consumer confidence in the region climbed to its highest level in well over a year in October (prior to the storm), based on both the Conference Board's survey of residents of the Middle Atlantic states (NY, NJ, Pa) and Siena College's survey of New York State residents.

Construction and Real Estate


Residential real estate markets in the District were mixed but generally firm prior to the storm, and its effects on the market remain unclear at this point.

 Manhattan's rental market remained on a positive trajectory in October, with rents up roughly 5 percent from a year earlier and vacancy rates continuing to decrease. Contacts in the metro market report rents continue to rise and industry leaders expect rents to rise by as much as ten percent in 2013.

Sales markets in both Manhattan and the outer boroughs were fairly active in October, with prices steady and the inventory of available homes characterized as low.

An expert on New Jersey's housing sector notes that conditions were improving gradually prior to Sandy and expects that post-storm rebuilding will boost multi-family construction.

The storm caused a noticeable slowdown in sales activity throughout the New York City metropolitan region, but this is expected to be temporary. With many homes along the New York City, Long Island and New Jersey shorelines severely damaged or destroyed, the lean housing inventory is a concern, as displaced residents seek short-term rentals.

There is some concern as to how much of the shore communities will be rebuilt and how quickly, but one industry expert anticipates that residents in the severely-damaged areas will be strongly motivated to return and rebuild. Some of the biggest potential challenges are likely to be shortages of construction equipment and materials, and steeper prices for insurance.

Commercial real estate markets were mixed prior to the storm. A number of large office buildings in lower Manhattan remain out of commission due to extensive flooding; however, a major brokerage contact indicates that displaced businesses do not seem to have had much trouble finding temporary quarters.

Overall market conditions are not reported to have changed much, thus far, since the storm--between the end of September and mid-November, asking rents have risen modestly in Manhattan but declined modestly in northern New Jersey.

Other Business Activity


Manufacturers across the District indicate continued weakness in general conditions since the last report; virtually all contacts in the New York City area report some loss in business due to storm-related disruptions. Manufacturers in upstate New York, which was not significantly affected by Sandy directly, reported only scattered and indirect effects from the storm, though these contacts also report some further weakening in business conditions.

Business contacts throughout the southern part of the District--in both manufacturing and other sectors--report widespread effects of the storm, particularly in northern New Jersey and on Long Island. In these parts of the District, many businesses indicate that the impact has been both severe and protracted, due to prolonged power and communications outages, as well as transportation disruptions that have prevented both workers and customers from accessing the business.

 A trucking industry expert notes that many terminals and warehouses sustained severe flooding, which has disrupted business; at least one firm has gone out of business as a result. Business contacts in both manufacturing and other sectors report steady input price pressures and little change in selling prices.

Labor market conditions have weakened, probably temporarily, in the aftermath of Sandy. A major New York City employment agency specializing in office jobs reports a sharp drop-off in business after the storm, because many firms either shut down or operated without key personnel.

 Separately, a growing number of manufacturing contacts--not only in the New York City area but also in upstate New York--report declines in employment at their firms.

However, businesses in other sectors report little or no change in employment. Contacts in both manufacturing and other sectors expect headcounts to remain steady, on net, over the next six months.

Financial Developments


Small- to medium-sized banks across the District report weaker demand for consumer and especially commercial & industrial loans but steady demand for commercial and residential mortgages.

Bankers report increased demand for refinancing. In my discussion with lenders, demand for refinancing is expected to be greater in the final two months of 2012 as compared to the prior year. CMBS financing has returned with highly competitive pricing by Wall Street.

 Respondents do not report any change in credit standards in any loan category. Bankers indicate a decrease in spreads of loan rates over costs of funds for all loan categories--particularly commercial mortgages.

Respondents also indicate decreases in average deposit interest rates: nearly two in five bankers report a decrease while none reports an increase. Bankers note increased delinquency rates for consumer loans and commercial & industrial loans but no change in delinquency rates for residential or commercial mortgages.

When asked what effects Sandy had on their business, almost half of the bankers report no noticeable effect so far; however, many of these respondents expect that effects of the storm could become evident in the future, especially for commercial businesses and as damage to collateral is assessed.

On the other hand, more than 40 percent of those surveyed were affected directly by the storm, with widespread branch closings and power outages reported. Banks in the most severely affected areas--largely New Jersey, as well as lower Manhattan and Queens--have received a high volume of calls from customers with home damage, and banks are physically inspecting buildings for damage before making new loans.

Posted on November 29, 2012 .

Cyber Monday, New York City Hotel Deals


Instead of heading to the retailers on Black Thursday night, or Black Friday, I preferred to stay close Air Mac and ipad allow me to shop the Internet to see what unnecessary purchases I might have purchased this Thanksgiving weekend.

Instead of purchasing more clothing or electronic gear and another pair of sneakers, I have controlled my impulses and decided that I would provide my readers with valuable information on special promotions for guests who book on or before Cyber Monday (November 26th, 2012).

A number of local hoteliers are offering discounts as much as 60% off regular prices for stays in New York City hotels.

Central Park Hotels do not normally offer discounts, yet on Cyber Monday, The Helmsley Park Lane Hotel will offer 40% off the best available rate for stays December 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013. Visit the website for discounts: www.summithotels.com/helmsleyparklane.

The Benjamin Hotel on the corner of 50th Street and Lexington Avenue is offering a number of promotional programs with a savings up to 60% with rates start at $199 for stays through February 28, 2013. For a full list of the promotions visit www.thebenjamin.com an

d use the code CYBER.

 

The Benjamin Hotel is part of the Affinia Hotel, which is offering guests 10% off best available rates for stays trough November 25, 2013. Book online and use promotional code CYBER1.

 

A few blocks from the Benjamin Hotel on Lexington Avenue and East 53rd Street is the 763 room DoubleTree by Hilton Metropolitan. The hotel is offering a sale ending on Cyber Monday with room rates at $119 per room, per night for stays between December 16 and December 25 and between January 2 and March 10th.  To get the deals book on line or call the hotel and request plan code PL1.

 

Hotels are very hot in the Flatiron, Midtown South section of Manhattan.  Not too far from the ACE and the NoMad hotel is The Wolcott Hotel which is offering guests the chance to stay three nights for the price of two for travel January 2 through February 15th.

 

In the Grand Central section, is the legendary Roosevelt Hotel offering 25% off best available rates for stays from January 1 through March 31, 2013. Use the rate code CY25 when booking. They are offering special rates at the Bonus Flash sale: offering 50% off best available rate from 10AM-12 PM. Use rate code CY50 for the flash sale.

 

Many of the Starwood New York City Hotels are offering special savings on Cyber Monday. Visit www.cities.starwoodhotels.com/nyc-hotels to see which hotels are offering discounted rates.

 

Loews Hotel, the owner of the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue is offering Cyber Monday promotional rates when you visit www.loewshotels.com/cybermonday1daysale

 

With more than 16 hotels in Long Island City, the newly opened Z NYC Hotel is offering a promotional rate from noon and ending at 12:26 EST, offering rooms at $126 per night for stays between January 1 through March 31, 2013. Additionally, those who book will receive a $26 credit available for use towards the hotels restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on November 23, 2012 .

Business Office Lounges for small business and traveling executives

Ground floor retail in Midtown Manhattan has a variety of tenants. On Third Avenue between East 46th Street and East 47th Street is the 39 story office building at 747 Third Avenue. At the corner of East 46th street, construction is underway for a new retail tenancy. The newest tenant is not a bank, nor a Starbucks or restaurant; it is a 5,000 square foot multi purpose office lounge which will be operated by flexible workspace firm Regus. Earlier this year, the company signed a 15 year lease on 28,478 square feet for its three floor flagship business center, which will feature the business lounge.

The concept of a business lounge has been around for more than half a century, originating with private lounges for airlines at airports. With over 1,200 locations across 550 cities and 95 countries, Regus is offering a business person the opportunity with a comfortable, well equipped workspace.

The lounge offers free secure Wi-Fi and refreshments with access to print, scan and copy documents. Members are also offered the opportunity to rent meetings rooms, day offices and video communications. Membership pricing is based upon the specific lounge and city locations and whether a member is seeking local, national or international use of the Regus facilities.

With at least fifty companies in the metropolitan region offering office suites service in New York City and the region, expect many of these companies to follow the lead of Regus and offer a similar business lounge service

Posted on November 21, 2012 .

REITs actively buying and selling properties in the second half of the year

A number of locally based real estate investment trusts (REITs) have been very active in buying and selling real estate during the second half of the year.

Vornado Realty Trust one of the largest owners and managers of commercial real estate in the U.S. with a Manhattan portfolio of approximately 28 million square feet in over 50 properties, including Class A office buildings, street retail, showroom and residential assets and the Hotel Pennsylvania has traded over $ 1 billion in assets.

In August, the company announced that it had entered into a lease with Host Hotels & Resorts, the owners of the Marriott Marquis, one of the largest hotels in Manhattan with 1,900. Under the lease, Vornado will redevelop the retail and signage components of the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square Hotel. The hotel is located in the heart of the bow-tie of Time Square and spans the entire block front from 45th Street to 46th Street on Broadway. The site is directly across form Vornado's 1540 Broadway iconic retail property leased to Forever 21 and Disney flagship stores.

The REIT plans to spend as much as $140 million to redevelop and substantially expand the existing retail space, including converting the below grade parking garage into retail, and creating six story, 300 feet wide block front dynamic signs.

During the third quarter the REIT was very active in acquiring trophy retail properties. It announced plans to acquire the 33,400 leasehold interests in the retail component at 680 Madison Avenue for $280 million, or $8,386 per square foot. It also entered a contract to acquire the 114,000 square foot retail condominium leased to Uniglo, Hollister and Swatch at 666 Fifth Avenue for $707 million or $6,202 per square foot.

In October, Starwood Property Trust and Starwood Capital Group (on behalf of Starwood Distressed Opportunity Fund IX) announced the sale to Vornado Realty Trust of a 25 percent participation in both the first mortgage and mezzanine loan on 701 Seventh Avenue in Times Square.

One week earlier, Starwood Property Trust (the REIT) and Starwood Capital Group, announced the co-origination of a $475 million first mortgage and mezzanine financing for the acquisition and redevelopment of a 10 story retail building located in Times Square.

Also in October, Vornado announced it had entered into an agreement to sell the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, Long Island to Macerich Company (another REIT) for $500 million. In addition, Vornado will realize a financial statement gain of approximately $181 million and a tax gain of approximately $202 million from the sale of the Kings Plaza Mall in Brooklyn, New York. This mall, which is owned by Alexander's, Vornado's 32.4% affiliate, is being sold to The Macerich Company for $750 million.

The REITs third transaction announced in October was an announcement that it has entered into an agreement to sell three office buildings in suburban Fairfax County, Virginia, for approximately $136 million. Vornado has also entered into an agreement to sell a building on Market Street in Philadelphia which is part of the Gallery at Market East for approximately $60 million.

SL Green Realty, New York City's largest office landlord, REIT, which has ownership interest in 77 Manhattan properties totaling 39.3 million square feet.

In October, the REIT announced an agreement to sell a 49.5% equity interest in the office building at 521 Fifth Avenue for $72 million to Plaza Global Real Estate Partners, a venture between Quantum Global Real Estate and LaSalle Investment Management. Earlier in the month, the REIT announced that it acquired properties at 635 Sixth Avenue and 641 Sixth Avenue for a total of $173 million, or $648 square foot from Atlas Capital Group.

In August, the REIT announced that it had formed a joint venture with Harel Insurance and Finance and the Naftali Group to develop a dormitory tower for Pace University at 33 Beekman Street in downtown Manhattan. In early 2011, the Company in collaboration with Harel began construction of a 609 bed dormitory and retail condominium at nearby 180 Broadway, with delivery scheduled for January, 2013.

The REIT is also involved in the residential rental market and announced this summer that it had formed a joint venture with Stonehenge Partners that will enter into a 99 year ground lease covering a 20 story, 82,250 square foot residential building at 1080 Amsterdam Avenue.

The REIT has been a joint venture partner with Jeff Sutton and in July, the REIT announced the restructuring and recapitalization of their joint venture at 717 Fifth Avenue. In these transactions, SL Green has sold 50% of its interest to Sutton and retains a 10.92% stake in the venture retail condominium property at a price that values the asset at $618 million, or $5,105 per square foot.

In July, the REIT and its joint venture partners closed the sale of One Court Square in Long Island City to a private investor group for approximately $481 million, or $343 per square foot. SL Green was a 30% owner in the joint venture of the 1.4 million square foot office building which is 100% leased to Citibank, N.A.

Mack Cali Realty Corporation one of the largest owners of suburban office buildings in the metropolitan area closed on its acquisition of real estate development and management businesses of Roseland Partners, a premier multi-family residential community developer and operator in the Northeast, and Roseland's interest in six operating multi family properties totaling 1,769 apartment, residential condo properties, and a variety of other developments which extend from New Jersey to Massachusetts. The majority of the properties are located in New Jersey and other urban in-fill and transit oriented locations.

This summer, the grand opening was held for Equity One's shopping center Gallery at Wesbury Plaza, Westbury, New York. Equity One is a leading shopping center developer and owner focused on urban communities. Since 2009, the company has acquired or developed nearly $2 billion in retail asset, concentrated in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and South Florida. The current portfolio of 165 shopping center has a market value of approximately $3.5 billion.

In the fall, the company announced that it has acquired, or is under contract to acquire, four properties for a total investment of $260 million. Three of the assets are located in the New York Metropolitan Region and one is located in Bethesda, Maryland.

The company acquired Clocktower Plaza, a 78,820 square foot shopping center located in Queens, for $56 million. The center is anchored by a high volume Pathmark grocery store and is 1005 leased. The property is situated on seven acres of land with excess parking which is expected to provide development and expansion opportunities in the future.

The company also closed on Darinor Plaza, a 152,025 square foot shopping center on The Post Road in Norwalk Connecticut. It also purchased 1225 Second Avenue, an 18,474 square foot retail condominium covering a full city block on Second Avenue between 64th and 65th Street. It is anchored by CVS and 7-11.

Hospitality real estate investment trusts continue to be active over the past months. Hersha Hospitality Trust, which owns 64 hotels in major urban gateway markets including New York City, announced that it had entered into a purchase and sale agreement to acquire the 205 room Hilton Garden Inn located on East 52nd Street near Third Avenue for $74 million, or approximately $361,000 per key.

Hong Kong based Great Eagle which currently manages 28 hotels, including three in the U.S in Boston, Chicago and Pasadena announced that it agreed to purchase The Setai Fifth Avenue, a hotel with 157 rooms and 57 suites for $229 million, or $1,070,093 per key.

Strategic Hotels & Resorts completed the $362.3 million purchase of Manhattans' Essex House and formed partnership with KSL Capital Partners to fund the acquisition. The REIT, purchased the 44 story hotel from the same company it sold the Essex House the Dubai Investment Group.

Self storage real estate investment trusts have been a treasured asset by investors. In August, self storage real estate investment trust CubeSmart completed the second phase of its $560 million purchase of a 22 property portfolio form Storage Deluxe. The properties comprise approximately 1.6 million, with facilities in Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania, though most of the sites are with New York's five boroughs. The completed acquisition means CubeSmart is now the leading self storage operator in New York City with 27 facilities.    

Posted on November 21, 2012 .

Luxury Electric Automobile Mobile expansion with ten new stores in North America

Palo Alto based Tesla Motors was founded in 2003, by a group of Silicon Valley engineers to develop electric vehicles. In 2008, the company began selling its "Roadster" today; over 2,300 Roadsters drive emission free in more than 37 countries.

This year the company released its Model S to accelerate the transition of electric mobility. Pricing of these vehicles is based upon the size of the electric system, ranging from $49, 900 to $69,900 with an estimate range of travel from 160 to 300 miles. The Model S Performance Model price is $84,900 with the Model S Signature is priced at $87,900 to $97,900. These prices are after a $7,500 Federal Tax Credit.

This fall, the company announced the opening of ten new locations in North America with a dealership at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, Long Island. The company already has dealerships in Manhattan at 511 West 25th Street and in The Westchester" shopping mall at 125 Westchester Avenue in White Plains. It also has a service center in Queens. Other locations include Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus, and The Mall at Short Hills. By the end of the year the company will have 24 locations in North America.

Similar to Apple, Tesla has a network of "stores" and "retail stories" many of which are boutique style stores in shopping malls. Potential customers purchase the automobiles on the Internet. Tesla follows a sales and distribution model very different from other automobile makers. Rather than distribute cars through independent dealerships, the company operates a direct sales model. Each of Tesla's stores are in retail shopping centers, and the purpose is education on the merits of electric vehicles rather than focus on sales. The actual sales process happens elsewhere, as does vehicle servicing.

"All retail locations have Tesla's Model S premium sedan on display, and many have dedicated test-drive vehicles where we will offer customers the opportunity to experience the exhilarating performance and superior handling of Model S," said George Blankenship, vice president of worldwide sales and ownership experience. "As we open locations throughout the country, our approach continues to be geared towards engaging and informing more people about Tesla and Model S and the technology behind it. Customers can walk into a no-pressure environment, ask questions and engage with informative product specialists to learn more about the many advantages of going electric. We know we've done our job when customers leave smiling."

 

Posted on November 21, 2012 .

Record number of Senior Housing Loans funded in 2012

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) processed nearly $5.5 billion of senior housing loans in 2012 through its Section 232 LEAN program, with volume skyrocketing more than 66% above last year's $3.3 billion record.

The HUD LEAN program offers funding for the acquisition, refinance, substantial rehabilitation, and new construction of various kinds of senior living properties.

Section 232 is an FHA-Insured loan product that covers housing for the frail elderly - those in need of supportive services. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and/or Alzheimer's-care, and board and care are all examples of this type of housing (a project may include more than one type).


Section 232 may be used to finance the purchase, refinance, new construction, or substantial rehabilitation of a project. A combination of these uses is acceptable - e.g. refinance of a nursing home coupled with new construction of an assisted living facility.

HUD's LEAN program became the largest single source of debt capital to the senior housing industry.

HUD LEAN is based on the Toyota manufacturing philosophy, which focuses on efficiency and continuous improvement in an effort to eliminate waste and unnecessary people, steps, or other activities. For HUD, the approach is an effort to continually streamline and improve upon the application and approval process for its senior living/health-care programs.   

Posted on November 21, 2012 .

SBA Disaster Assistance Available to Private Non-Profit Organizations in New Jersey

TheU.S. Small Business Administration announced today that certain Private Non-Profit Organizations (PNPs) in the State of New Jersey that do not provide critical services of a governmental nature may be eligible to apply for low interest rate disaster loans.  These loans are available as a result of a Presidential Disaster declaration for Public Assistance resulting from damages caused by Hurricane Sandy.

PNPs located in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties in New Jersey that provide non-critical services are eligible to apply.  Examples of eligible non-critical PNP organizations include, but are not limited to, food kitchens, homeless shelters, museums, libraries, community centers, schools and colleges.

PNP organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.  The SBA may increase a loan up to 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.

The SBA also offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs, such as ongoing operating expenses to PNP organizations of all sizes.  Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the organization suffered any physical property damage.

Interest rates are as low as 3 percent with terms up to 30 years.  The SBA sets the loan amounts and terms based on each applicant's financial condition.

PNP organizations are urged to contact their county emergency manager to obtain information regarding how to submit a request for possible public assistance to FEMA.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA's secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Disaster loan information and application forms may be obtained by calling the SBA's Customer Service Center or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Applications can also be downloaded from www.sba.gov.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is January 4, 2013.  The deadline to return economic injury applications is August 5, 2013. 

Posted on November 21, 2012 .

Homeowners evaluating 20 year fixed rate mortgages

With homeowners refinancing lowering their interest, many of the borrowers are reducing the term of the loans.

The Mortgage Bankers Association(MBA) report, 30 year fixed rate mortgages are still the most popular loan term for both and refinance customers, but 20 year mortgages are becoming increasing popular, especially among refinancers.  

"Twenty-year fixed-rate loans are the third most popular mortgage product, behind 30 and 15-year fixed-rate loans, followed by 10 and 25-year mortgages," says Matthew Robinson, senior public affairs specialist with the MBA.

The popularity of these loans, especially among refinancers, has grown enormously in the last year alone. The MBA says that other-term loans represented more than 15 percent of all refinance applications in August 2012 (latest data available), an increase of 23.25 percent compared to last year.  

Other-term loans represented just 1.91 percent of purchase applications in August 2012, but still an increase of 13.45 percent compared to August 2011.

Qualification standards for a 20 year mortgage are the same as for a 30 year, or 15 year fixed rate loan. The only major difference is that a borrowers income must be sufficient to cover the higher payment.  

Home prices, in terms of actual monthly mortgage payments made by home owners, are cheaper today than they have been for more than 25 years, according to a recent analysis of Case-Shiller home values and mortgage rates by the Department of Numbers web site.

The site calculated the cost of a actual monthly payments on a 30-year mortgage at prevailing historic mortgage rates to finance the purchase of a home at Case-Shiller's media price levels since the series began in the late 1980s.

Even though real house prices peaked at the beginning of 2006 and are now back to early 1999 (and before that mid 1990) levels, today's record low mortgage rates make monthly mortgage payments lower today than they have been since the Case-Shiller index came into being.

Posted on November 21, 2012 .