INTERNATIONAL

ISIS and terror continue to dominate the international news. It seems like there is no room for good news anymore. When does the international community quit focusing on protecting airports and subways and start putting its strength on killing the bad guys? We must remember, these group of terrorists want a fight; it is a part of their caliphate.

NATIONAL

Our media is dominated with our crazy election process. In fact, I am getting emails and phone calls from some of my friends from Canada asking if we have lost our minds. Hopefully it will settle down but we may have a contested Republican primary and who knows what is going to happen when FBI Director James Comey interviews Hillary Clinton. What if she is indicted? Would the Democrats let an avowed Socialist be their nominee? Will the Republican Party let Trump be their nominee? What a mess!

In a 4-4 a Supreme Court decision without Justice Antonioni Scalia, unions retained the ability to extract fees from non-union workers. These so called “Fair Share Service Fees” were upheld and continue to be charged to workers that choose not to become union members.

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The Consumer Index continues to be in a fairly tight band according to our friends in Michigan.

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The NFID Small Business Index is tracking the Consumer Confidence Index fairly well.

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HOUSING MARKET

The Texas single-family housing market continues to outpace the nation.

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But starts are down as lot and construction prices continue to rise. And no one seems tobe building for the first-time buyer.

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And available product for sale is very low. A healthy inventory is around 6 months.

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ENERGY

Two things caused the spectacular drop in crude oil pricing. First, the huge production increases caused by the shale drillers caused the oil supplies to spike. And, second, OPEC, especially Saudi Arabia, decided to put our producers out of business by not dropping its production. But what the Saudi’s are not thinking about is that there is a lot of oil in our country that can be produced profitably at $30.00 per barrel. The Eagle Ford formation is a good example of this. And the old, established, independent oil and gas producers will tell you to settle down and wait; The Lord will store it for free.

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Natural gas continues to be priced at less than $2.00 mcf.

And a politician that actually gets things done, US Congressman Joe Barton, worked hard to get the export ban for oil and gas lifted. The liquefied natural gas tanker Asia Vision left the Cheniere Energy Sabine Pass export terminal in February with the first tanker of liquefied natural gas, 3 billion cubic feet, bound for Brazil. We can thank Jimmy Carter for this terminal; it was built to import LNG into the US. The supply imbalance for crude oil is modest at best. Look for prices to recover this year. My guess is that we stabilize at about $60.00 per barrel.

RETAIL AND TRENDS

children-wacky-2016I just love the way that the press blows everything out of proportion. Yes, Wal-Mart is closing 150 stores in the US this year. But 102 of those stores are Wal-Mart Express outlets, a smaller C-Store format, and 23 Neighborhood Markets. This does not surprise me. The nation’s largest retailer (Wal-Mart) is also trying something else new. It has teamed up with Aaron’s to test a lease-to-own program for entertainment and electronics in its stores, of which 100 are in the DFW area. I do not condemn them for trying something new. The failure of the Express concept is a perfect example of Joseph Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction theory.

It did not surprise me that AutoNation is the No. 1 US vehicle retailer at 533,000 units in 2014. But according to Shopping Center Times, Costco is No. 2 at 465,000 in the same year.

Circuit City is coming back after being bought by Ronny Shmoel and Albert Liniado. The new format will range from 2,000 – 4,000 square feet and is set to open its first store in Dallas in June.

I am always looking for new venues and ideas. Muse Paintbar, with 16 locations in the eastern part of the US, combines food, beer & wine and painting. One of their big things is parties for kids but they also offer classes for adults. Unleash your Picasso. A similar venue in DFW is Painting with a Twist. Its motto is A Little Bit of Paint, A Little Bit of Wine and a Whole Lot of Fun. It is Fun Art, Not Fine Art. Anything that takes kids away from video games is a good thing. Look at these little girls! No wonder they serve drinks!

Sports Authority has filed for bankruptcy and is closing about 140 stores including Plano, Mansfield and two in Fort Worth.

Robert Niblock, CEO of Lowe’s, announced that the US home improvement store is set to acquire Canadian Rona for $2.3 billion. This puts Lowe’s in direct competition in Canada with Home Depot.

A new trend for hotel developers is dual branding where two hotels exist in one structure. One example in our area is a co-branded lifestyle hotel being developed near Love Field. It will include more than 220 rooms and will feature both the Aloft and Element flags. Can you spell Millennial?

AMC, which just purchased Starplex, has announced that it is buying Carmike Cinemas for $1.1 billion or about $376,000 per screen.

Atlanta was the strongest market for development in the 4th QTR. DFW was 2nd. According to JLL, the national vacancy rate for retail was 5.8%. The top five retail markets for new construction were New Jersey (3.3 million SF), south Florida (3.2 million SF), Houston (2.9 million SF), DFW (2.7 million SF) and Boston (2.6 million SF).

The chart below is for all types of commercial construction.

q4-2015-under-construction

chanel-2016400 North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills sold for a record-breaking $13,217 per square foot, $152 million. The price of luxury knows no bounds. I would love to know what the rental rate is.

TEXAS

Ordinarily I do not cover ranches in our reports but the largest contiguous ranch in Texas, the WT Waggoner Ranch, sold last quarter. The ranch is over 510,000 acres. Stan Kroenke, the owner of the LA Rams, was the buyer. The list price was $725 million. Mr. Kroenke promises to keep the ranch all together. WT Waggoner used to say, “I don’t want to own all the land; I just want to own all the land that touches mine.”

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According to the March 22 issue of RECON, the latest Texas employment data suggests that the worst of the oil price collapse’s impact on the Texas economy may be over.

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DFW REGION

In the CBRE Americas Investor Intentions Survey 2016, DFW ranked No. 3 in the US markets for real estate investors behind Los Angeles and New York. Also about 81% of investors surveyed expect to maintain or increase their spending this year.

Dr. Jim Gaines, chief economist for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, said one question he gets asked a lot is if Texas is in a real estate bubble in single-family housing. Dr. Gaines says no; it is not. DFW and Houston built more houses last year than 19 states and the state’s housing inventory remains extremely low relative to market activity. All you have to do is go to Prosper to verify this. It is all about that fourletter word JOBS.

The Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine will add 300 guest rooms and 86,000 square feet of meeting space in a $129 million expansion this year. The City of Grapevine agreed to rebate $1 million of the hotel’s room tax annually for 10 years upon completion of the expansion.

I doubt if there are many areas like Frisco’s $5 billion mile. Fifteen years ago, Frisco was a bedroom community of 33,000 people. Now it is topping 150,000. Four projects alone are bringing over $5.2 billion in investment to one mile along the Dallas North Tollroad. They are The Star at Frisco anchored by the Dallas Cowboys; Frisco Station, developed by Rudman, Hillwood and Van Trust Real Estate; The Gate, a 41-acre development of luxury condos and a boutique hotel developed by Invest Group Overseas, a Dubai-based group; and the $2 billion Wade Park developed by Thomas
Land Development.

FORT WORTH

Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce’s David Berzina spoke recently about the successes in 2015. The Facebook data processing center and Lockheed Martin’s campus upgrade, each worth in excess of $1 billion, are going to be hard to beat in 2016 but there are some things in the works that could exceed even these two developments. David said that there would be an increased focus on life sciences this year.

The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, the non-profit show corporation that puts on the Fort Worth Stock Show each year, and the City of Fort Worth completed the $15.4 million upgrade to the Will Rogers complex. If you are a rodeo fan, this is a really big deal. It makes Will Rogers one of the top venues in the country. Hillwood is adding another 1.75 million square feet of industrial space at Alliance. Two buildings are in Alliance Westport and another is in Alliance Center North. Citing lower demand for oil and coal, BNSF is set to furlough 4,600 of its workforce over the next few months. Many of these workers are in the Bakken Shale area of North Dakota. BNSF is headquartered in Fort Worth.

Lockheed Martin hopes to trim about 1,000 white-collar positions from its Fort Worthbased aeronautics division through voluntary layoffs. About 9,000 employees are eligible for the voluntary layoffs throughout the company.

ARLINGTON/MANSFIELD

rangers-arlingtonDallas-based Ridge Development, the development arm of Transwestern, and Invesco, a global investment management firm, will start construction on 1.6 million of industrial space near the Southwest Industrial District.

Texas Live! is the name for the Rangers-Arlington development around Globe Life Park where the Rangers and Dallas Cowboys (AT&T Stadium) play. The $200 million development will include 100,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and entertainment venues plus a 300-room hotel and 35,000 square feet of meeting and convention space.

NORTHWEST FORT WORTH/LAKE WORTH

The 2,300-acre Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base is undergoing a $2.8 million renovation project that is well underway. The project will allow for increased security and relieve traffic issues at the base.

The On the Border Mexican Grill on the LQ Development tract in front of Gander Mountain should be open in June. It will bring a first class sit-down restaurant that is situated right next to the Starplex Theater that is about to be re-branded as AMC.

We opened our McAllister’s Deli on Azle Avenue in the Lake Worth Marketplace last week. The owners of McAllister’s are very happy with the volumes so far. In addition to McAllister’s, we opened America’s Best Vision in our building. 7 Day Dental will finish bring that building to 100% leased and is set to open to the public in June.

CHISHOLM TRAIL

Tarlton State University President Dominic Dottavio, at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce meeting, announced that it would open its Fort Worth campus in January 2019 with approximately 2,500 students. Walton Development, developer of Chisholm Trail Ranch, donated 80 acres of land for the campus to Tarlton.

Walton is underway on its Phase I of the Chisholm Trail Ranch development. This part of Phase I consists of approximately 169 lots of the total 1,031 lots that will be developed over the next few years. Walton, a privately owned development firm from Canada with US headquarters in Scottsdale, AZ, is also actively involved in the Rock Creek tract just outside of Chisholm Trail Ranch.

Provident Realty Advisors and the Sid Richardson Foundation have been approved for a zoning swap for land at the Bryant Irvin extension. Provident plans to develop the Pate Ranch property into single-family and retail.

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The Chisholm Trail Parkway (toll road), the extension of US Highway 121 from the Fort Worth CBD to Cleburne, is literally changing the south Fort Worth area. It is now possible to get from the area to downtown and the medical district in 10 minutes where previously it could take 45 minutes.

Our Summer Creek Station development will be one of the first new retail developments in the area. And according to Paul Ballard, President and CEO of The T, the Sycamore School Road station across from our development will be open in 2017.

SUMMARY

We continue to be blessed to be in Texas and Fort Worth. Our growth is all about the right things. The cost of doing business in our area and the favorable business climate are hard to beat. I continue to be optimistic about the future. But we must be diligent and careful and not let our developments get too far ahead of the cycle.

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