Sunday Summary: 2021, Off to a Weird Start

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It seems a bad time to be talking about real estate. Since this newsletter last went out, we learned the following pieces of news:

1) The president of the United States implored Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” nearly 12,000 votes and put him over the top in the election. (Remember that?)

SEE ALSO: St. John Properties’ Matt Holbrook Talks Development Outlook in DC

2) A runoff election was held in said state, where Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff ousted incumbent Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

3) This had the effect of switching control of the U.S. Senate chamber from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

4) Republicans staged a nearly unprecedented set of objections to certifying the election of Joe Biden as president.

5) Biden was certified as the 46th president of the United States.

6) Thousands of MAGA-inspired rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, overwhelming police, taking control of the Senate chamber, vandalizing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office, and prompting authorities to use tear gas in the halls of the people’s house, with at least five people dying as a result.

(Things we’re not even mentioning: the COVID death toll surpassing 4,000 in a single day; pipe bombs found at the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee; President Donald Trump getting banned from Twitter and from Facebook and Instagram; members of the Trump administration resigning en masse and discussions about availing the country of the 25th Amendment; and Merrick Garland nominated as attorney general … something which normally would have been treated as A1 front page news, and was instead relegated to page A18 in The New York Times the next day.)

Real estate did, in fact, have something to say about item #6 on this ticket. The Real Estate Roundtable, the Real Estate Board of New York, the National Association of Realtors and the National Retail Federation all condemned the chaos and others followed suit the next day.

But, while attention was on Washington, D.C., there were actually some eye-popping deals last week.

In L.A., Line 204, a studio and production rental company, is selling its 10-acre studio to Hudson Pacific Properties for $28 million. Skanska USA revealed plans to develop a three-story office building in Beverly Hills. And Comcast Esports Studios has put their property on the border of Glendale and Burbank up for sale.

Across the country, Mack-Cali Realty unloaded two residential properties, one in Arlington, Va., across from Amazon’s HQ2, and another in New Brunswick, N.J., while also refinancing a property in Malden, Mass.

Stellar Management grabbed a $113 million refinance of OTTO, its residential property in Greenpoint.

And, even a retail condo found some love! KPG Funds nabbed a $12 million property in Tribeca.

This spate of activity sort of makes the faith that the market has in the future make sense. Last year, it looked like one of the businesses that would be badly clipped by COVID-19 was hospitality, and with it, one of the bigger names in hospitality, Airbnb. And yet, the online rental marketplace came out of the gate in December with an IPO that valued the company at more than $100 billion.

How did that happen?

Commercial Observer looked at the question with a nice, long story that’s worth checking out this weekend.

Don’t forget…

There were leases. Lots and lots of leases! One of them involved a marquee name in tech that nearly every landlord would kill to get in its building. We’re talking about Microsoft, which took a massive 180,000-square-foot lease at Tishman Speyer’s 1300 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Va.

CO learned that Cushman & Wakefield is planning on consolidating its Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn offices into one location.

There were also some retail leases. Trader Joe’s announced it was opening in Harlem; and Flushing’s Tangram complex saw leases signed for Funzy Play, an indoor playground, as well as Queens Baby Store, a, well, baby store.

Don’t forget the hires!

New year, new jobs. JLL’s tenant vet, Jim Wenk, became a vice chairman at Savills, taking his team of Kirill Azovtsev and Allison Buck with him. Likewise, Cedar Realty Trust’s Michael Sommer is decamping for Kushner Companies to become executive vice president of development and construction.

And, hey, speaking of departures, we found out this week that Kim and Kanye are splitting up. The divorce comes complete with a real estate angle, too (of course, it does). 

See you next week!