ISIS, or whatever you want to call it, continues to dominate the international news. But evidently global warming is more important to our President. In my opinion the economic slowdowns of Europe and China are a bigger threat to our country than global warming.
Our country is at war. We are in the more typical definition of war with ISIS and other terrorist groups across the Middle East, Europe, Africa and now in our country also; the currency wars (China and Japan); the trade secret wars (especially China); and the cyber wars (Russia and China). And the United States continues to be the place that wealth continues to flow into.
The labor force participation rate is one statistic that I focus on when trying to look forward in our retail ventures. It is apparent from reviewing the chart below from dshort that many seniors are working longer. But the other thing that is evident is the increasing number of younger people that are not in the labor force. How many people are working and how many are taking government giveaways?
Janet Yellen and company finally decided to raise short-term interest rates. But remember she is raising the overnight rate, not the 10-year loan rate that affects our permanent loans.
The Consumer Confidence Index remains in a fairly tight band but it has dropped again this period.
The retail news this quarter is almost too much to try to digest. Belk, the largest US family-owned and operated department store chain, sold out to Sycamore Partners for approximately $3 billion and will be privately held. The 300-store
retailer will continue to be based in Charlotte and Sycamore is planning to expand the concept.
Baskin Robbins continues to expand, especially in warmer climates. The chain is focused on franchisees, which tend to know the actual area better than using a corporate model.
Many traditional retailers are scaling back their footprints. Cabela’s, one of my favorite stores, is considering coming out with a smaller concept. Soft goods retailers such as Forever 21, Macy’s, J.Crew, Beal’s Sacs, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Staples are all planning smaller stores. Even Whole Foods is getting into the trend. Big Box anyone?
One of the coolest new concepts is the Crayola Experience that opened next to its corporate headquarters in Easton, PA. It is a family attraction that aims to foster creativity in children. I’ll bet it would be a great place to take my five grandchildren.
Amazon opened its first physical bookstore in Seattle. Amazon runs all the big bookstores out of business and then opens a 7,500 square foot retail store. The Walgreens-Rite Aid merger will result in at least 1,000 locations being sold to
comply with the federal government regulators. The deal is valued at about $17.2 billion. AMC Theaters is buying locally owned Starplex and will rebrand all the theaters under the AMC name. This includes the Starplex at our Landmark Quebec development in Fort Worth.
Sycamore Partners is involved in the Dollar Tree acquisition of Family Dollar. Dollar Tree completed its buy out in July and sold 330 Family Dollar units to Sycamore Partners that will operate as Dollar Express.
Penn Station East Coast Subs is also on an expansion mode and is coming to our DFW area. The franchise restaurants total about 300 units to date plus one training restaurant in Cincinnati.
I spent a lot of time lately trying to come up with a way to describe where retail is going. It is evident that the retail developments of the future are going to have to have a “reason to exist” beyond just going to the store and shopping. The newer shopper wants an experience. I believe that a good comparison is that the typical strip retail center is like shale oil production. It reaches its peak in a few short years and goes down from then. Properly visioned retail will go up in price forever as long as the owner makes it timeless in design and function.
Top Golf is taking the entertainment concept a step further than others like ShowBiz and Dave and Busters. The idea is to have customers come into the stores and spend the entire afternoon doing several things such as golf, watching games and eating and drinking.
One troubling topic is the fact that there are attorneys across the country that are using ADA Title III filings to make themselves rich. Because most states do not have the “right to cure” in their ADA language, these attorneys are filing lawsuits that are requiring the property owners to pay penalties and both their own attorney’s fees and those bringing the suits. One of the favorite suits is to measure the handicap signs on the parking lot poles. If these signs are not put at just the perfect height, the attorney, or his “plaintiff”, files suit. One suit was for a sign that was 1.5 inches too high. The judge apologized to the property owner but fined him anyway. DDR, which owns and manages about 400 centers, has settled a series of these suits in recent years, most of them filed by the same attorneys or plaintiffs. RECON, the Texas electronic magazine that is put out by the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center, recently had an article about this going on across Texas. I am going to have our RAAS check each of our properties just to be sure. The Fort Worth Society of Commercial Realtors has also asked the TAR government affairs group to get someone to propose a bill to get the right to cure put into Texas law but that won’t happen for two years.
According to the Sacramento Bee analysis of tax return data from the Internal Revenue Service between 2004 and 2013, about five million California residents left the Golden State during the past decade. Texas got 600,000 of them. No wonder the traffic is so bad. California has a 13.3% state income tax, the highest in the nation. It is ranked as the fourth most taxed state in the nation according to the Tax Foundation. In comparison, Texas, which has no state income tax, is ranked 47. Texas continues to lead the nation in GDP growth but we slowed this quarter.
Homes continue to sell well in Texas’ major cities.
But inventory is lower than demand. Along with increased government regulation, this is slowing production. A huge issue with employment could be the lack of housing in both single family and multi-family.
The rig count continues to decline precipitously as the price declines further. I have no idea when the price will stabilize but I know we are taking production off line at a rapid rate.
Dallas/Fort Worth is the fourth largest metropolitan market in the country. DFW led US metro areas in 2014 for job growth, the first time since 1990 that the area was number one for a full calendar year. We added 136,900 net jobs in 2014. Second was the New York metro area, which includes parts of New Jersey and Long Island with 129,000, and Houston was third at 120,600 new jobs.
Dallas is adding more office towers than Fort Worth with new projects all along the Toll Road and Preston Road.
Retail expansion continues to be healthy in the Metroplex also. The Dallas side enjoyed the introduction of Nebraska Furniture Mart, a 560,000 square foot retail complex on US HY 121. But the amount of new retail space is still far below the amount that was built in 2005 and 2006.
Pine Tree Commercial Realty, Northbrook, Illinois, acquired 11 Tom Thumb groceryanchored centers this quarter totaling 768,865 square feet. The sales price was not disclosed but Class A centers of this quality ordinarily sell for $180.00 – $240.00+ psf.
The updated impact of DFW International Airport is now valued at $37 billion and will only grow as it proceeds to add another terminal.
The price of crude oil and natural gas may be down but Anthracite Realty Partners, LLC, the real estate arm of Jetta Operating Company, is braking ground at 640 Taylor Street on Frost Tower Fort Worth, on a 25-story office tower in the west side of the central business district. The 278,000 s/f mixed-use tower will house a large portion of Frost Bank’s downtown operations and Jetta’s offices.
The Fort Worth City Council has OKed $700,000 for renovations to the Convention Center arena, mainly for new seating. I expect the entire arena to be totally replaced sometime within the next 5-10 years. It is a known fact that Fort Worth loses some convention business because of the older arena.
Fort Worth South and the hospital district continue to see new development. A $30 million multi-family development adjacent to the hospital is underway at the old ACH Child site. And there are at least five new breweries either open or under construction south of the West Freeway.
Zoning and initial site plans have been approved for Majestic Realty’s redevelopment in its joint venture with the Holt Hickman family of Hickman’s portion of the 70-acre section of the Fort Worth Stockyards. Majestic hopes to be underway with its mixed-use development in 2016.
The Walton Group of Companies has officially broken ground on Chisholm Trail Ranch, a 600-acre master-planned community of residential and commercial properties as shown in the map below at the Chisholm Trail Parkway and McPherson Blvd. This phase of the development will include about 1,100 homes.
Pate Ranch, LP, owned by Provident Realty Advisors, has sued XTO Energy, owned by Exxon, for building a natural gas pipeline across its land without proper compensation. The Pate Ranch development is west of our Summer Creek Station development. Provident’s plans filed with the city states that it intends to develop 238 acres of singlefamily homes, 136 acres of mixed-use and 93 acres of commercial. Pate is at least a couple of year away from bringing its development to market.
NORTHWEST FORT WORTH/LAKE WORTH
Lockheed announced that it received $625 million to continue the increased production of F-35 fighter jets. It expects to complete the $5.3 billion contact for next production by year-end. The production is expected triple by 2017 and Lockheed is expected to add 1,000 workers to the production line over the next couple of years.
On the Border is well under construction on its newest DFW restaurant at our Landmark Quebec development. A Marriott hotel developer has closed on another tract at Landmark Quebec and has presented plans to the city. On the Border should be open by summer and the hotel is expected to be open in the second half of 2016.
A Wilson & Stonaker, LLC entity, in a joint venture with a large multi-family developer from Louisville, KY, is developing 41 acres in Sansom Park, near the Landmark Project. Phase I of the project will include 167 Class A multi-family units and a 219 unit senior community. The project is also scheduled for an additional 252 multi-family units in Phase II plus 14 acres of single-family.
Another Wilson & Stonaker LLC entity is under construction on a 10,000 s/f multi-tenant retail building at Loop 280 and Azle Blvd. as a part of the Kohl’s anchored Lake Worth Marketplace development. The entity has leased space to McAllister’s Deli and National Vision. We have a lease out to a regional dental provider. If that lease is executed, we will open at 100% occupancy.
ALLIANCE/NORTH FORT WORTH
Galderma is expanding its facility at Alliance. The $22 million R&D center is set to add another 350 jobs.
Alliance is extending its runway from 9,600 feet to 11,000. This will help FedEx and will allow Alliance to better compete with Nashville and Indianapolis for industrial customers.
Arlington’s new mayor, Jeff Williams, is dubbing what was once known as The Entertainment Capital of Texas to be The American Dream City. Ever since the $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys) was built, the city has been on a tear. Some of the new developments include the $1.4 billion expansion of the General Motors plant, the 2,000-acre Viridian master planned community and the opening of the $160 million College Park development with the University of Texas at Arlington. Currently Arlington has over 20 significant projects underway and in planning. Arlington is a perfect example of government deciding to work with developers without compromising its high quality of standards and ordinances.
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS
The “T”, Fort Worth’s commuter rail, has all agreements in place to begin commuter train service as soon as late 2018. TEX Rail was designated a “recommended transit project” in the federal Transportation Department’s budget in February. This is especially good for North Richland Hills that has two stops on the commuter rail line. The line will begin in downtown Fort Worth and go to DFW Airport. A later phase will extend the line down the Chisholm Trail Parkway to Sycamore School Road at our Summer Creek Station development.
Our area continues to be stronger than the rest of the nation but the national and international economies could cause us to slow. That being said, as long as we continue to add jobs here we should be in good shape. I am not concerned that we are going to see higher interest rates anytime soon and I believe Texas in general and the Fort Worth areas in particular will continue to out pace the national growth rates.