Daily News for Commercial Real Estate & Business – April 8, 2010

Here are the news stories you might find interesting today regarding commercial real estate and business:

To view this week's "The Watchlist," by Costar, click here. One article discusses how Private Equity Firm's are starting to acquire commercial properties now.

Monsanto Buys Casa Grande Warehouse for $4M St. Louis-based agricultural giant Monsanto Co. purchased the industrial building at 749 W. Ash Ave. in Casa Grande, AZ, for $4 million, or $99 per square foot. Monsanto will own and occupy the property. The 40,550-square-foot warehouse completed construction in 2008 and features 2,050 square feet of office space. Additional features include a covered loading area, a concrete truck apron, 400 amps of power, four grade level doors and a four-position truck well with levelers. View article...

Tesco to open three Fresh and Easy stores The British grocery invasion into metro Phoenix continues with openings of three Fresh and Easy stores across the Valley this month. United Kingdom-based Tesco will open Fresh and Easy stores in Scottsdale, central Phoenix and the West Valley in April. On April 14, stores at Hayden and Thomas Road in Scottsdale and at 40th Street and Camelback Road will open. Those stores will be followed by the April 21 opening of a Fresh and Easy store at 83rd Avenue and Camelback Road. View article...

American Solar Electric plots Valley, Arizona-wide expansion American Solar Electric is planning to open a new distribution center in the West Valley along with expanding its offices in northern and southern Arizona to keep up with growing demand. The Scottsdale-based company plans to open a West Valley distribution center, most likely in either Goodyear or Glendale, to go along with its existing facility in Tempe. The company is expected to decide in the next few weeks where its West Valley center, which will be the base of several construction crews, will be. View article...

Barcelona Hotel Group Partners With Dow Hotel SCOTTSDALE, AZ-Barcelona Hotel Group and Dow Hotel Company LLC (DHC) have formed a partnership to acquire first-class, full-service hotels as part of a $450-million fund. As part of the agreement, Seattle-based DHC will become a Strategic Alliance Member (SAM) with Barcelona REIT One (BR-1), a closed-end fund that will operate as a private REIT. View article...

Lender glitch delays Bashas' bankruptcy plan An agreement between Bashas' Inc. and bondholders who are owed more than $215 million is holding up the Arizona grocery chain's emergence from bankruptcy protection. Lawyers for Bashas', banks and bondholders and unsecured creditors told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James M. Marlar on Wednesday that negotiations on terms of repayment to the lenders is the glitch holding up an agreement. View article...

Tohono O'odham tribe hires architects for Glendale casino The Tohono O'odham Nation has hired Memphis-based Hnedak Bobo Group as the lead architectural firm for designing the tribe's proposed resort and casino project near Glendale's sports and entertainment district. HBG produced initial renderings for the project, which was announced in January 2009. It will now work with the Tohono O'odham to design and finalize all site plans. View article...

ASU-RSI: A Late Spring For Real Estate Prices? If the trend continues, residential real estate prices will finally level off later this spring, ending a dive that has lasted twice as long as the last real estate slump, in the early 1990s. According to the latest ASU-Repeat Sales Index (ASU-RSI), overall house prices declined by 13 percent in December compared to December 2008, an improvement over the 17 percent year over year decline seen in November and the 20 percent decline in October. View article...

Foreclosures hit record in March for Phoenix area The number of Phoenix-area homes foreclosed on by lenders hit a new record in March. There were 5,556 foreclosures in metropolitan Phoenix last month, a 30 percent jump from February, according to the Information Market, a property-records research firm. View article...

Update: Jobs and Incomes Fell in the Western States in 2009 Final revised state figures for 2009 have just become available for two key indicators: nonfarm employment (from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) and personal income (from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis). To the surprise of practically nobody, the Western states were not represented among the growth leaders. The nation as a whole recorded declines on both indicators for the year. Every state lost jobs. View article...

CMBS Market Shows Increasing Vitality The commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market appears to be on the mend, with a spike in issuance compared to the same period a year ago and a glimmer of the first conduit deal since 2007. With investors feeling more confidence about the state of the U.S. economy in general and commercial real estate prices in particular, issuance this year could reach $30 billion, some market observers say. Year-to-date, the U.S. market saw $2.3 billion in CMBS issuance, compared to no issuance in the first three months of 2009, according to Commercial Mortgage Alert, an industry newsletter. View article...

Check the Real Estate: It's Time to Delve In It's springtime for real estate. Last summer I wrote that it was time to buy residential real estate if you were in the market and looking for a bargain. I never expect to call a market bottom, and certainly not for long-cycle assets like houses, but I seem to have come pretty close. The latest S&P/Case-Shiller survey results, released last week, suggest housing prices bottomed out around April 2009, when its 20-city composite index was down 32.6% from its peak reached in June/July 2006. Since then it has gained 3% through January 2010, with some markets much stronger, especially San Francisco and Minneapolis. View article...

Shopping-Center Malaise Retail landlords continued to lower lease rates to attract tenants during the first quarter, revealing that optimism about a recovery in retail sales has yet to translate into gains for shopping-center owners. Average lease rates at shopping malls during the first quarter were $38.79 a square foot annually, down 3% from a year earlier, according to real-estate research company Reis Inc. That was the sixth consecutive quarterly decline. View article...

Small Banks Quickly Shed Commercial Real Estate Risk Under pressure from federal regulators and weighed down by an unhealthy exposure to commercial real estate, small banks - or those in the $1 billion to $100 billion asset range - are making haste to clean up their balance sheets, according to Oakland, Calif.-based Foresight Analytics, a unit of Trepp LLC. View article...

Retail chain backs creation of Bible museum Leaders of the Oklahoma-owned Hobby Lobby retail chain have acquired hundreds of religious artifacts and are helping to open a Bible museum. Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, said Wednesday his family has been helping to develop the National Bible Museum. He said he and museum leaders are evaluating several sites, including Dallas. Green said the idea of a museum housing Bible collections and items of historical biblical significance captured his family's interest about four years ago. He said his family became involved in acquiring artifacts in the past year. View article...

Feel free to contact me regarding any of these stories, the current market, distressed commercial real estate opportunities or your property.

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