Daily News for Commercial Real Estate & Business – March 4, 2010

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

To view this weeks, "The Watch List," by Costar, click here. The first article, "Signs of Hope Seen in Investment Sales Activity" is a quick read. It discusses the slow but painful rebound starting to take hold.

MidFirst opening Chandler branch

MidFirst Bank plans to open a new branch in Chandler in late March or April. Company officials say the new location at 1311 W. Chandler Blvd. will create 12 jobs. MidFirst opened 14 banks last year, and this will be the first local branch to open this year. Company spokesman Mike Piazza said MidFirst took over the property March 2 after it had been leased by Arizona Federal Credit Union. The space is being renovated, and a hard opening date has not been set. View article...

Ryan Cos. wins contract to build Phoenix FBI building

The Phoenix office of Ryan Cos. has been awarded a government contract many other development and construction companies across the country had coveted. The U.S. General Services Administration Wednesday announced that Ryan was selected to do the design-build for new headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Currently FBI operations in Phoenix are conducted in four leased facilities. The 200,000-square-foot headquarters will be built at the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Deer Valley Road. The FBI will be able to consolidate its people and have room for future expansion. View article...

Kurt Warner's First Things First Foundation to remain in AZ

Retired Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner will be keeping his charity foundation in Phoenix. Warner, who retired from the NFL team earlier this year, does substantial charity work in Phoenix and St. Louis, where he started his football career and won a Super Bowl with the Rams. Warner's First Things First Foundation is based in Phoenix and will remain located in the Valley, said foundation coordinator Jennifer Zink. View article...

Navajo Nation's Ariz. casino to cost $180 million

The Navajo Nation plans to break ground this fall on a $180 million resort, spa and casino near Twin Arrows east of Flagstaff. Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise chief executive officer Bob Winter said he is seeking an architect to design a "green" resort on the north side of Interstate 40, about 30 minutes from Flagstaff. Winter said final financing for the gambling house is likely to come through in the coming days with completion estimated in the fall of 2011. View article...

SolarCity gets $90 million to help AZ installations

SolarCity has tapped U.S. Bancorp for another $90 million to help finance commercial and residential projects, including some in Arizona. The deal is the third between Foster City, Calif.-based SolarCity and U.S. Bancorp, putting $190 million into solar installations making the company one of the largest installers in the U.S. View article...

Rise in Valley pre-foreclosures dulls hopes for recovery

Pre-foreclosures in metropolitan Phoenix climbed in February, dashing hopes that the housing market is starting to recover from the crash. In January, pre-foreclosures, known as notice-of-trustee sales, fell to their lowest level since late 2008. The significant drop had some housing-market watchers hopeful more lenders were working with borrowers on loan modifications early on and more borrowers could afford their monthly mortgage payments. View article...

Phoenix business group wants to change laws to help lure jobs

The mission of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council is to attract jobs to the region. Most importantly, higher-paying jobs. But as the recession deepened, wiping out about one-tenth of Arizona's existing jobs, economic growth stalled. Arizona fell to No. 50 among states in job creation. Budget cuts decimated state government's efforts to attract businesses. View article...

CityNorth decision spurs discussion of development

Two attorneys, one directly involved in the CityNorth subsidy case, will talk about the impact of the recent Supreme Court decision on future development in Arizona. Grady Gammage, whose firm represented CityNorth in the case, and Clarence Matherson Jr., assistant city attorney of Tempe, will speak at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, 1820 W. Washington St., at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The Supreme Court decision in the CityNorth case clarified what kinds of city support qualify as a gift. The court allowed Phoenix's agreement with the developers of CityNorth to stand while disagreeing with the agreement's merits. View article...

Banks Begin to Withdraw From Their Branch Boom

Say goodbye to the decadelong building boom that made it seem like there was a bank branch on every corner. The total number of retail branches in the U.S. is on pace to decline this year for the first time since at least 2002, according to SNL Financial, a Charlottesville, Va., research firm that tracks branch data filed with banking regulators. View article...

Capitol Bancorp gets green light to consolidate four California banks

Capitol Bancorp Ltd. received regulatory and shareholder approval to consolidate four California banks, as it continues to downsize and cut costs amid heavy losses. The bank holding company, which maintains executive offices in Phoenix and Michigan, will consolidate Bank of Escondido, Point Loma Community Bank, Sunrise Bank of San Diego and Sunrise Community Bank on Friday under the Sunrise Bank umbrella. View article...

Retailers see 31% rise in sales for December

Arizona retail sales surged 31 percent from November to December as holiday shoppers got serious about treating themselves to clothing, furniture, appliances and even vehicles. Retailers reported some spectacular increases, including 57 percent for clothing stores, 42 percent for food and liquor stores, 46 percent for wholesalers and 15 percent for motor vehicles, according to the January report from the Arizona Department of Revenue. View article...

Datos report: AZ Hispanics buying power increases, but hard hit by recession

While the buying power among Arizona Hispanics has increased to $31 billion, this growing population is getting hit hardest by the recession, according to a report published by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "Our community is going to take longer to recover," said James Garcia, director of communications for the chamber and key researcher of the study, called the DATOS Forecast 2010. View article...

Report: February job cuts lowest since 2006

Companies planned fewer job cuts in February than in any month since 2006, according to a report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The Chicago company tracks how many people businesses say they plan to lay off nationwide. In February, the firm tallied 42,090, down from 71,482 in January and down significantly from the 186,350 job cuts announced in February 2009. View article...

Service sector growth accelerates in February

Growth in the U.S. service sector accelerated in February to its fastest pace in more than two years, but jobs remained hard to find. The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday its index measuring service industries rose to 53 in February from 50.5 in January. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a smaller increase to 51. Any level above 50 signals growth. The 53 reading is the highest since January 2008, when ISM revised how it measured the service sector. View article...

Final transportation stimulus allocations announced

The Arizona Department of Transportation and local government entities have awarded all of the $522 million received as the state's share of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for transportation purposes. Provisions of the stimulus act required that the entire amount be allocated by March 2, which it was according to a written statement released by Gov. Jan Brewer. View article...

New Fund Targeting Smaller Core-Plus Properties

A new investment fund based in Dallas is looking to fill a void in buying properties that may be too large for individual investors and too small for institutional players. The Valeo Fund, hoping to tap into the pockets of U.S., European and Latin American investors, intends to raise $150 million in equity, which with moderate leverage will provide it with buying power in excess of $300 million. Valeo is targeting U.S. real estate assets -- office, medical office, retail and debt instruments -- in the $15 million to $55 million range, located in demand-driven/supply-constrained markets. 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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