ChainLinks: Planned unit growth up over last year
New York — Retail expansion in the United States has not come to an end, but its focus has shifted. That’s one of the findings contained in the 2014 ChainLinks Retail Advisors U.S. National Retail Investment Forecast Report.
The study finds planned potential unit growth is up in 2014 about 3% compared to this time last year. Some categories, including apparel, gifts, electronic goods and books, are relatively flat or even in contraction mode. But food-related uses, ranging from grocery stores to restaurants are up, as is service-related retail, automotive users (such as Autozone or Pep Boys), financial services related players, and medical users looking for retail outlets.
“Growth continues to be propelled by space users impacted by the economy; luxury retail is back on the nation’s high street retail districts while discounters of all stripes (ranging from dollar stores to off-price apparel and low-end groceries) continue to gobble up space at a robust pace,” the report states. “Meanwhile, food and service related users have more than picked up the pace from hard goods players (impacted by e-commerce) that have put bricks and mortar growth plans on hold or that have considerably reduced them.”
The end result is that, despite the growth of e-commerce, retail fundamentals continue to improve in the United States, accord. Of the 60 major metropolitan markets that ChainLinks tracks, 41 recorded the same or decreasing vacancy levels over the course of 2013.
According to ChainLinks, the return of new construction has played a role in slightly increasing vacancy levels in a number of major U.S. markets, including; Kansas City (10.0% to 10.2%), St. Louis (10.9% to 11.0%), Chicago (9.8% to 11.0%), Cleveland (12.3% to 12.7%), Detroit 11.8% to 12.0%), Milwaukee (10.3% to 10.4%), Charlotte (9.7% to 9.9%), Hampton Roads (7.8% to 8.8%), Raleigh/ Durham (7.1% to 7.2%), Tampa Bay (9.1% to 9.3%), Philadelphia (7.6% to 7.9%) and Boston (5.3% to 6.7%).
“In nearly all of these markets, we expect recent vacancy upticks to be short-lived as strong demand remains in place for Class A space in every one of these trade areas. There is also increasing demand for Class B space in most of these markets — particularly as Class A availability continues to tighten with asking rents growing aggressively,” the report states.
Indeed, the report finds that in every market surveyed, brokers report a shortage of Class A shopping center space. This holds true for San Francisco, New York, Boston, San Diego, Washington, D.C., San Jose, Philadelphia, Seattle, Baltimore, Miami, Los Angeles or Pittsburgh (some of the lowest vacancy marketplaces over the past few years) or Detroit, Cleveland, Louisville, Atlanta, Inland Empire, and Indianapolis.
Walgreens to present net zero-energy store at SPECS
New York — Walgreens will share learnings, insights and real-time performance data gained from building and operating the retail industry’s first net zero-energy store at Chain Store Age’s 50th annual SPECS Conference, March 9 -12, Gaylord Texan Hotel, Grapevine, Texas.
“I hope attendees will come away from the SPECS session excited and enthused to try something new,” Jamie Meyers, manager of sustainability, told Chain Store Age during a tour of the store, which is located in Evanston, Ill. “And by sharing what we’ve learned — what to do and what not to do — we hope to make it (net zero-energy stores) more financially feasible for others so that they can become mainstream.”
Meyers and design engineer Jason Robbins will present a real-time update on the store at the SPECS session, “An Industry First: Walgreens Net Zero-Energy Store,” Monday, March 10, at 2:10 pm.
Walgreens has previously used or experimented with many of the technologies featured in the Evanston store. But this is the first time the chain has put them all under one roof.
“We want to learn as much as we can from this store,” Meyers said.
Featuring two 35-ft. tall wind turbines, nearly 850 solar panels, a geothermal system burrowed 550 ft. into the ground, and daylight harvesting, Walgreens plans to generate electricity and reduce its energy usage in the store by more than 50%.
Some of the more unique elements include the use of directional LED lighting (leading to reduced energy use for lighting by 30%), carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment, and wind turbines that allow wind to be captured from any direction. Also unusual is the sawtooth design of the building, which has separate roof planes.
“The roof is designed to maximize daylighting, “Meyers explained.
To provide as much roof space as possible for the solar panels, all the major equipment is housed in a mechanical mezzanine that is open to public view.
One of the biggest surprises since the Evanston location opened in late 2013, Meyers said, has been the number of people, ranging from other retailers to customers to local school groups, that want to tour it.
“It’s generating a lot of interest,” Meyers said.
As to how the store is performing, Meyers said: “Every day we are putting power back on the grid, and that’s what’s its all about.”
To see photos of Walgreens Evanston, click here.
Google Capital invests in online real estate platform
Google Capital has invested $50 million in Auction.com, the world’s largest online real estate marketplace. As part of the investment, one representative from Google Capital will join the company’s board of directors and another will take a board observer position.
“Google is the world’s greatest Internet company and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with them. This will give us an opportunity to tap into their deep expertise in digital marketing and mobile, as well as in building world-class products,” said Jeff Frieden, CEO and co-founder of Auction.com. “More than $7 billion of commercial and residential real estate traded through our online marketplace in 2013, and we believe that having Google Capital’s support will help us expand our industry leadership, and carve out a bigger share of the global real estate market.”
Google Capital joins other strategic shareholders in Auction.com including Starwood Capital Group, Starwood Property Trust, Stone Point Capital and funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group. Auction.com annually handles tens of thousands of transactions across commercial and residential real estate for customers ranging from the largest financial institutions to individuals and brokers.
“Auction.com has quietly built one of the largest marketplaces on the web,” said David Lawee, partner at Google Capital. “We think Auction.com can fundamentally change how real estate, and particularly commercial real estate, can be bought and sold, leveling the playing field for smaller investors.”
Google Capital was formed in 2013 and previously invested in Survey Monkey, Lending Club and Renaissance Learning. It is a growth equity fund backed by Google. Google Capital invests in companies that use technology to change the way people experience the world. JPMorgan Securities LLC served as sole private placement agent for Auction.com in conjunction with the transaction.