Sunday Summary: October Surprise


To be honest, it’s a little difficult to think about real estate at the moment…

The president of the United States has coronavirus a month before the election.

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In a year full of political shockers, this was the October surprise to upend all others. One almost forgets that, only two days before the announcement, the country was still reeling from what had to have been the most unruly American presidential debate ever recorded. Or, that two days before that debate, President Donald J. Trump was revealed by The New York Times to have paid $750 in taxes the year he won the presidency and in his first year in the White House. (Also, a new U.S. Supreme Court justice was nominated the day before that.)

At Commercial Observer, we’ve been thinking about the political horse race, too. First, there are big policy implications based on whomever wins, a topic we dove into this week. Plus, various players have been putting their money behind the president as well as former vice president Joe Biden, so we also examined who’s been putting dollars in the field.

When The New York Times bombshell exploded last Sunday, it looked at Trump’s sources of income, which, besides his endorsement and television deals, is largely about real estate and certainly matters to the industry. (Trump Tower is still his prize possession in terms of revenue generation.)

And when the news of Trump’s diagnosis broke early Friday morning, stock futures began falling precipitously, with equity real estate investment trusts (REITs) sliding 1.6 percent. That also came on the heels of a lackluster jobs report. (Thankfully, the slide stopped by Friday afternoon.)

Given all of this, almost everything else seems silly to talk about.

But it isn’t!

Of course it isn’t. The real estate hits keep coming.

First, the good news: The largest storage in the Bronx since 2017 was signed; Prime Storage Group paid Knickpoint Ventures’ Matt Sprayregen $29 million for six properties.

Also, AEW Capital Management and Merrill Gardens Senior Living nabbed a massive $460 million loan from PGIM for a 10-property, senior living portfolio on the West Coast from Welltower (WELL).

And, there, largely ends the good news.

From the West Coast, there was gloomy word that the happiest place on Earth (Disneyland, naturally) was going to remain closed with no reopening date in sight. Plus, we learned that Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield was bringing a lawsuit against Los Angeles County demanding the right to reopen their indoor malls in Century City, Culver City, Sherman Oaks, Valencia and elsewhere in the county.

New York City started requiring commercial buildings of more than 25,000 square feet to post an energy efficiency grade this week, and industry insiders are expecting a lot of D’s on buildings, or failing grades.

A new report from CoStar detailed that more retail space would empty in 2020 than in any year on record. (Not that this was any real surprise.)

Kroll Bond Rating Agency was slapped with a $2 million fine by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after finding irregularities in how it rated CMBSs and collateralized loan obligations (CLOs).

Oh, and do you remember all those cuts to the MTA, and the huge shortfall? Well, you can expect those cuts to affect the tri-state economy, according to a new story CO put out this week.

Take a step back.

Of course, the shambles that is 2020 will take a long time to repair. But, the process will begin at some point in the future, and real estate will begin to heal.

On this Sunday, for those looking for a lengthy weekend read, may we suggest CO’s look at Mack-Cali, the massive New Jersey REIT which pushed out its CEO earlier this year, and is in the process of restructuring itself under the leadership of interim CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin.

Hopefully, it will serve as a reminder that, this too, shall pass.