Real Estate Management News - 07/27/2016

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July 27, 2016
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Industry Partners

The Changing Nature of Property Management

An Affair to Remember: IREM Fall Conference
Dealing with Violence and Civil Disturbances – Make a Plan
Traumatic Times: Managing a Diverse Workforce
ENERGY STAR® Certification Counts Towards IREM Certified Sustainable Property Designation

Series of Attacks May Lead Mall Owners to Increase Security
It's Hot Outside. Why Is the Office So Cold?
Apartment Markets Continue to Remain Mixed in July According to NMHC Quarterly Survey
Report: Centers Must Consider New Dining Formats and Leasing Deals
Middle-Aged Office Buildings Get a Makeover; Golf Simulator, Anyone?
Which Office Buildings Are Helping to Save the Environment?
Meet Kasita: The Micro-Housing Start-Up That's About to Revolutionize Real Estate
Fire Depts. Look to Improve Apartment Safety
Rents Inching Back Toward Pre-Recession Highs in Charlotte 'Skyline' Office Buildings
Wave of Specialty Stores Taking Hold at Tulsa Shopping Centers
Big Building Chicago Recycling Ordinance Advances
Energy Department Invests $19 Million to Improve Efficiency of Nation’s Buildings


Leadership Spotlight

The Changing Nature of Property Management

In IREM President Chris Mellen’s most recent column for National Real Estate Investor (NREI), he tackles the blending of personalized service in an age of growing technological advancement.

Even though “technology is changing the way we do business,” he writes, “the practice of management is traditionally a face-to-face, hands-on business. How does our growing ability to monitor and respond to issues remotely sync up with that age-old expectation? The answer is, they are not mutually exclusive.”

He says that, to remain relevant in this increasingly digital, remote-control age, we need to “split from the old methodologies and preconceived notions to follow a new path of efficiency and customer service.

“It’s simply a function of the modern 24/7 mode of work,” he continues. “We’re communicating all the time and so doing more through the above named devices, social media and emails. But remember, so too our all of our occupants, whether those occupants are residential or commercial. Technologies are assisting in all parts of our day, whether it’s remote meeting capabilities, lease renewals, virtual building tours or online banking or how you book your vacation.

“We all want service, but we want it done quickly and efficiently. The tools available to us today make us as property managers more proactive than ever before while simultaneously making us more responsive to the needs and wants of our constituents. Everyone gains.”

“The importance of having a face-to-face presence will never go away,” Mellen concludes, “and the essentials of good management will never change. The tools available to us today simply allow us to employ those essentials in a way that makes sense.”
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IREM Headlines

An Affair to Remember: IREM Fall Conference

You’re invited! Pack your sunglasses and head to San Diego for the IREM Fall Conference, October 18-21.

This year’s IREM Fall Conference will be one to remember. Inspiring speakers, fun networking events and motivating education sessions are guaranteed to keep you on your toes.

You can look forward to conference sessions like:
• 10 Trends in Multifamily Property Management
• Corporate Cyber Security: Every Company is Susceptible
• Mixing it Up: The Power of Well-Managed Mixed-Use Properties
• Evaluation of Staff and Structure for Optimal Results
• Transforming Leadership in the New Age of Real Estate

Just interested in education? Take advantage of the professional education day pass, giving you access to all the education sessions on Friday, October 21st – including the keynote session featuring Mike Walsh and Industry Leader lunch featuring Marla Maloney, CPM and Tony Long.

What are you waiting for? Register for the IREM Fall Conference today.
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Dealing with Violence and Civil Disturbances – Make a Plan

Excerpts from the July/August, 2016, Edition of JPM article entitled “Dealing with Civil Disturbances.”

The recent protests, riots, terrorist attacks, and other violent acts across the globe has highlighted the need for property managers to be prepared. Property managers will find that crisis management and business continuity depend on having a plan and sharing it with team members and tenants.

Organizations should include a “public disturbance/rioting” protocol in their emergency procedures if they don’t already have them. This would eliminate a lot of last-minute guessing and anxiety around the effectiveness of an organization’s response.

Christopher E. Mellen, CPM, vice president of the Simon Companies (Braintree, Mass.) and current president of IREM, reports that his company has assembled emergency response teams of employees and tenants. They’re responsible for ensuring orderly evacuations and updating management of the situation when a crisis occurs.

“The worst mistake a property manager can make is not having a plan that’s communicated to tenants, staff and other members of the emergency response team,” he said. “All tenants and staff receive an emergency procedure handbook with contact information for the fire department, police and key contractors, as well as floor plans of the building that show emergency exits.”

Public relations is a big part of crisis management and business continuity. Mellen warned that the media and the public will often look for a scapegoat; thus it’s important for a property manager to ensure that neither the property, occupants, nor management team can be blamed for making a problem worse. The media will often want to know whether a property had a crisis plan in place and whether it was adhered to—so be sure you can answer “yes” to both those questions.

For more information about what to do before, during, and after any type of crisis or disaster, be sure to check out both the IREM publication Before and After Disaster Strikes and the IREM tutorial “Developing an Emergency Plan.”
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Traumatic Times: Managing a Diverse Workforce

Excerpt from the July 15, 2016 IREM Blog posting by Mindy Wallis

Too often we wake up to another tragedy in the news. While we feel for the victims, we also feel helpless and frustrated. If you are the same race or gender identity as the victim, you may also begin to wonder if those attributes are more likely to make you a target for violence.

Many companies have worked hard to hire a more diverse workforce, but they have spent less time creating a culture of inclusion and engagement for employees from all backgrounds. Part of creating a culture of inclusion is creating safe spaces and providing mechanisms of support for employees who experience trauma because of incidents outside the workplace.

Some suggestions for employees and employers include:

Lend a sympathetic ear – Encourage people to share their fears and frustrations.

Don’t force confidences – If staff members are not forthcoming about issues in the news, don’t press them to speak about them.

Provide counseling for those who need it – Make sure that employees have access to professional counselors who understand the impacts of trauma on mental health.

Educate staff – An effective diversity and inclusion-training program can help raise awareness, and offer strategies for fostering inclusion.

Reiterate your commitment to diversity – Communicate that you have a diversity policy, and that any form of discrimination will not be tolerated.

Caring for your employees means more than providing wages and benefits, it means caring for their mental and physical well-being, by creating an environment that acknowledges differences of opinion and attitudes.
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ENERGY STAR® Certification Counts Towards IREM Certified Sustainable Property Designation

If you’re like most of the American public, you already know that when you see the blue ENERGY STAR® on appliances, electronics, light bulbs, and other products, it means you’ll save energy and money without any sacrifices in performance.

But did you know that similar to your refrigerator, commercial buildings and industrial plants can earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR®? As an added bonus, achieving that status fulfills the energy related requirements for obtaining the IREM Certified Sustainable Property (ICSP) designation.

ENERGY STAR® certified buildings and plants meet strict energy performance standards set by EPA. They use less energy, are less expensive to operate, and cause fewer greenhouse gas emissions than their peers. Starting with the first ENERGY STAR® certified building in 1999, tens of thousands of buildings and plants across America have already earned EPA’s ENERGY STAR® for superior energy performance.

To learn more about Energy Star® Certification and the IREM Certified Sustainable Property program.
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Industry Headlines

Series of Attacks May Lead Mall Owners to Increase Security
Associated Press (07/24/16) D'Innocenzio, Anne

Recent attacks such as the one in a Munich shopping mall and at an Illinois McDonald's may lead shopping mall owners and operators to increase their security or even persuade global brands to place greater emphasis on expansion plans in the United States rather than embattled Europe. Retail industry experts note that, at this point at least, the major iconic brands don't appear to be the targets. But, of course, many of them have locations at public places that are vulnerable to attacks. "There are lots of Starbucks and McDonald's, and they are in public places," stated Trevor Wade, global marketing director at Landor.

Meanwhile, mall security was a major topic at a recent convention organized by the International Council of Shopping Centers. While U.S. shoppers don't want to be subjected to metal detectors, managers are more likely to push mall owners to increase such security measures if attacks continue. "They're going to have to make [the increased security appear] under the radar," Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of retail leasing and marketing at Prudential Douglas Elliman, stated. The ICSC spent $2 million to develop a terrorism training program after the September 2001 attacks. Many U.S. mall owners and operators now also have evacuation drills once or twice a year that focus on lock-down situations. Finally, they are sharing three-dimensional virtual blueprints of their layout with local law enforcement.
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It's Hot Outside. Why Is the Office So Cold?
Philadelphia Inquirer (07/22/16) Burling, Stacy

Experts on indoor "thermal comfort" say it is not possible to say where to set an office or other commercial environment's thermostat so that all particular groups will be comfortable. For complex physiological reasons, we are all over the map when it comes to what temperature feels good. "You and I, exposed to the exact same conditions, are going to feel very different," remarks Gail Brager, associate director of the Center for the Built Environment at University of California, Berkeley. "There is no one thermostat setting that is going to keep everyone comfortable." Comfort, she adds, depends on such variables as the thermostat setting, humidity, and air movement. Temperature is only one of these various factors, but most concerned believe it to be the only factor that we can control in buildings.

ASHRAE, an international society of engineers devoted to making indoor environments comfortable, addresses the temperature issue in its Standard 55. Its goal is to keep at least 80 percent of a building's occupants happy. The summer comfort zone is regarded as 76 to 83 degrees, with no humidity. More typically, an office strives for 50 percent humidity, which places the comfort zone between 75 and 80. To further complicate matters, "adaptive thermal comfort" has been gaining acceptance in recent years. The general thinking is if it's hot outside and you're used to it, you can probably be comfortable in warmer temps inside, too. However, what actually happens is that most building managers keep thermostats at the same setting all year round. A study of 100 office buildings found that they averaged 73 in the summer and 74 in the winter. Field studies determined that roughly 40 percent of occupants were dissatisfied. Brager laments, "We are wasting vast amounts of energy and we are creating uncomfortable conditions."
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Apartment Markets Continue to Remain Mixed in July According to NMHC Quarterly Survey (07/22/2016)

The nation's apartment markets continued to report mixed conditions in the July 2016 National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) Quarterly Survey of Apartment Market Conditions. For the third consecutive quarter, the Market Tightness (43) and Equity Financing (44) Indexes stayed well under the break-even level of 50. Conversely, the Debt Financing Index tallied a final score of 62 and the Sales Volume Index was right at 50. "Apartment markets remain strong, but the surge of new apartment construction is starting to shift the supply-demand balance, particularly in the market for upscale apartments," said Mark Obrinsky, NMHC's senior vice president of research and chief economist. "Given that most new supply is Class A, we're not seeing the same shift in Class B and C apartments. In addition, some weakness in the Market Tightness Index may be just seasonality." No respondents considered apartments undervalued at present.
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Report: Centers Must Consider New Dining Formats and Leasing Deals
Chain Store Age (07/21/16) Urbanski, Al

New CBRE research shows that restaurants now dominate retail for 15 percent of all sales, a point ahead of grocery for the top area of expenditure. This trend must be top of minds for the nation's shopping centers owners and managers, according to CBRE experts. "They have to be more cognizant of considerations in doing leasing for restaurants. Can centers accommodate the parking and the sewer systems needed by restaurants?" commented David Orkin, CBRE's restaurant practice leader. With restaurant sales trending upward and department store trending downward, mall owners and operators definitely have a challenge in front of them. "Landlords have dark anchors and space to fill, so they are able to take some risks and experiment with new dining concepts," Orkin observed.

One of the formats worthy of experimentation, according to the CBRE report, are food halls that take a cue from the landmark Faneuil Hall marketplace in Boston or Reading Terminal market in Philadelphia. With regards to traditional malls, the trick is that these agglomerations of food providers require high-density traffic areas in order to perform. This can be accomplished. In places like Costa Mesa and Santa Ana, Calif., there are a number of suburban-oriented food halls incorporated into shopping centers as part of the entertainment component. Finally, a couple of other dining formats presenting themselves as options to shopping center owners are food trucks and so-called "grocerants" -- grocery stores with eat-in and takeout dining operations. "Grocerants are something landlords have to be open to, probably in smaller formats," concludes Melina Cordero, CBRE's head of retail research. "Grocery stores have great credit and increase the value of properties."
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Middle-Aged Office Buildings Get a Makeover; Golf Simulator, Anyone?
Chicago Tribune (07/22/16) Shropshire, Carolyn

More and more of downtown Chicago's middle-aged office buildings are getting face-lifts and "adding some bling" to appeal to today's increasingly demanding tenants. Local commercial real estate insiders are describing it as an "amenities arms race." Just a few years ago, a fitness center and a rooftop deck were all buildings needed for a quick makeover and subsequent lift in occupancy and leasing rates. These days, the tenant wars call for everything from a spiffed-up lobby to a bicycle storage facility to a golf simulator as must-haves for buildings aiming to lure more tenants and command higher rents. In turn, these renovations are having a substantial impact on the commercial office leasing market.

The allure of Chicago's uber-trendy West Loop and Fulton Market neighborhoods has certainly left "less-cool" downtown buildings scrambling to keep up with the competition. Greg Prather, a senior vice president at JLL, remarks, "Stodgy old buildings are trying to reinvent themselves as hip work environments because they have to compete." In 2011, there was only 2 million square feet of office space under renovation in Chicago's central business district (CBD), according to JLL data. By last year, that number has soared to 12 million square feet under renovation. Overall, 25 million square feet of office space -- or around 18 percent of the total market -- has been refurbished in the Windy City's CBD in the past five years.
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Which Office Buildings Are Helping to Save the Environment?
RealtyBizNews (07/18/16) Wheatley, Mike

The EuroOffice blog recently put together an infographic detailing some of the world's most innovative and eco-friendly buildings. Each building listed sports a unique design, and each has used unusual methods to reduce its carbon footprint. For instance, "The Edge" building in Amsterdam claims to be the most sustainable building in the world. Currently occupied by Deloitte, it's also reportedly the smartest building in the world as it is able to manage desk allocation for employees on a day to day basis along with the office environment itself. Also touted is the Bahrain World Trade Center. Its towers are joined by sky bridges that each hold a 225 kW wind turbine, which can provide as much as 15 percent of the towers' total power consumption.

The Bullitt Center in Seattle is also mentioned, as it is designed to be both carbon and energy neutral. The tower boasts a self-sufficient water and sewage processing system. It also uses photovoltaic panels. Another favorite is The Crystal in London. It's an all-electric smart building that controls the lighting, blinds, heating, and air conditioning. Finally, the infographic lists Powerhouse Kjorbo, which will generate enough wattage to cover the total amount of energy used in its construction while producing only one-sixth of the greenhouse gas emissions of traditional office complexes.
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Meet Kasita: The Micro-Housing Start-Up That's About to Revolutionize Real Estate
Forbes (07/19/16) Taylor, Peter

Kasita is an Austin-based micro-housing start-up founded by Jeff Wilson, a former university dean and professor who used to live in a dumpster where he found inspiration. He has recently been courting venture capital, stating, "Kasita is on the verge of disrupting the urban housing market in ways not seen in real estate and development in 150 years." Wilson is betting that his technology-stuffed, 320-square foot, portable living capsule is poised to transform the fundamental concept of what real estate means to Generation Y, empty nesters, and upwardly mobile creative types eager to trade-in their 30-year mortgages for mobility, simplicity, and financial independence.

Broadly speaking, Kasita falls into the architectural category of prefabricated micro housing, with surgically efficient use of interior space and small-scale affordability. Wilson's Model One prototype was recently unveiled as a sleek, simplistic glass-and-steel box that can get up and go when life says it's time for a change. "Each Kasita slides into an engineered steel exo-skeleton that can be built in under a week on any open lot in any city up to 10 stories high," the article's author touts. "If you need -- or want -- to move, your Kasita comes with you." Just power up your app and schedule your move. A crane and a flatbed truck scheduled by Wilson's team will take care of everything else. Each home features voice-controlled systems that can fine tune everything from interior temperature to dimming the "dynamic" glass at night for privacy. The robotic kitchen module, meanwhile, transforms into a sleek and comfortable queen-size bed. Wilson's other goal with Kasita was to build something that could be scalable for cities and developers that are currently struggling to provide affordable housing.
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Fire Depts. Look to Improve Apartment Safety
Foster's Daily Democrat (New Hampshire) (07/24/16) Currie, Judi

Efforts are under way in Somersworth and Portsmouth, N.H., to make apartment properties safer. Local building codes currently require certain safety features be installed. Somersworth Fire Chief Keith Hoyle is now conducting voluntary safety inspections of local multifamily housing buildings, but some area landlords have not been returning the department's call to set up an inspection. Hoyle said there is an urgent need to reach the building owners because they cannot go in and inspect the property without permission. A New Hampshire state law requires all rental property owners who do not live on site to register with the municipality and provide contact information. According to Hoyle, apartment communities must have carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and smoke detectors. "Beyond that," he states, "we are looking at the escape windows and checking to see stairwells are clear and exit doors are marked and openable."

Meanwhile, Hoyle continues to reach out to neighboring cities for advice, including Portsmouth. In Portsmouth, fire inspector Patrick Howe launched a program in the summer of 2015 to conduct fire and life safety inspections in existing apartment buildings. "Common deficiencies that are being discovered include insufficient smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, a lack of second exits from dwelling units, and inadequate secondary means of escape from rooms," he noted. Howe added that the smoke alarm requirements for apartments are quite specific. They must be located on every occupied level, including the basement; outside of every sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms; and in every bedroom. Furthermore, the detectors must be hard-wired to a building's electrical system with battery backup, and interconnected so that if any smoke alarm in the dwelling detects smoke, all of the alarms in that apartment will sound an alarm. Finally, CO detectors are required in any apartment building that contains a fuel burning appliance or device or has an attached garage.
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Rents Inching Back Toward Pre-Recession Highs in Charlotte 'Skyline' Office Buildings
Charlotte Observer (07/21/16) Portillo, Ely

A new JLL study shows rents for high-profile offices in uptown Charlotte are heading back towards their previous record, which was set in 2008 when rents peaked at $33.45 per square foot. The commercial brokerage firm’s "Skyline" report covers the 24 buildings that comprise uptown's skyline, including the Bank of America Corporate Center, the Hearst Tower, and NASCAR Plaza. The base rent for those buildings hit $27.82 per square foot in this year's second quarter -- a nearly 7 percent increase from the same three-month period a year earlier when rent averaged $26.04 per square foot in the skyline buildings. Rents are even higher in new office towers now under construction uptown, topping $37 a square foot. "The Charlotte Skyline has led the resurgence of the city's office market over the past few years," declares Patrick Byrnes, Charlotte research analyst. "Strong leasing, low vacancy, and steadily climbing asking rates have been common themes of Charlotte's premier group of office buildings."
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Wave of Specialty Stores Taking Hold at Tulsa Shopping Centers
Tulsa World (07/21/16) Hardiman, Samuel

A new wave of specialty stores is invading the Tulsa metro area's shopping center scene, mirroring the national trend as mall owners and property managers look to get the most out of their square footage and drive traffic in other ways. The department store isn't going away just yet with such brands as Macy's, Dillard's, J.C. Penney, and Sears maintaining a strong presence locally. But if all or even several of them were displaced, the three major retail venues -- Woodland Hills Mall, the Tulsa Promenade, and Utica Square -- would have to fill a lot of square footage. The newest tenants at these key shopping centers, and others, are specialty stores that focus on a certain demographic. Many are also adding restaurants that market more of an experience and don't try to be all things to all customers.

New tenants at Utica Square, for instance, include Madewell, Evereve, and Athleta -- national brands with small footprints. They each market a certain type of women's clothing. For Athleta, it is athletic and yoga apparel; Evereve caters to mothers looking for fashionable clothing; and, finally, Madewell is the sister company of J. Crew. At Woodland Hills Mall, owned by Simon Property Group, the latest tenants driving foot traffic is the new luxury steakhouse Texas De Brazil and such stores as Champs Sports. "Specialty retailers add another dimension to our already popular retail mix, creating unique options for our loyal shopper base," states Scott Budge, mall manager. Stephen Lebovitz, CEO of mall owner CBL & Associates Properties Inc., concurs. "The definition of an anchor has changed," he concluded. "Cheesecake Factory does as much business as Sears used to do."
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Big Building Chicago Recycling Ordinance Advances
Chicago Tribune (07/18/16) Byrne, John

Under a plan backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that's gaining support, owners of Chicago's bigger apartment buildings would be on the hook to provide separate recycling bins for residents. The move is an effort to bring buildings with more than four rental units into line with the separate recycling bins that are already in use in the alleys behind single-family homes and smaller buildings citywide. Larger buildings contract with private garbage haulers. They would need to do the same for recycling under the plan that is heading to the full City Council. The plan comes with hefty fines for noncompliance, beginning at $500 to $1,000 for a first offense and increasing to as much as $5,000 for a third offense within a year. Each day an apartment building is in violation could be counted as a separate offense.

That has caused much concern among realty associations, with officials testifying that their members could get hit with steep costs they would then be forced to pass on to tenants. Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation would be in charge of enforcing the new rules. According to Commissioner Charles Williams, it will mainly be "complaint based," with residents calling the city to complain about a lack of recycling and the city contacting apartment building owners and managers. These operators would then have 30 days to come into compliance before the fines start.
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Energy Department Invests $19 Million to Improve Efficiency of Nation’s Buildings
Department of Energy News Release (07/15/16)

The U.S. Department of Energy has invested $19 million to improve the efficiency of offices, stores, restaurants, homes, schools, and hospitals. The money will be spread across 18 projects that will develop sensors and energy modeling tools that make structures and heating and ventilation systems more energy efficient. Additional areas of focus include renewable energy storage, preventing air leaks, and cutting electricity use by transmitting sunlight to building interiors. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz noted, "These innovative technologies will make our buildings smarter, healthier, and more efficient, driving us toward our goal of reducing the energy use intensity of the U.S. buildings sector by 30 percent by 2030."
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