REAL ESTATE

Population growth in cities equals suburbs for first time in decades

BY Al Urbanski

The migration of population from suburbs to urban areas may be progressing more quickly than imagined.

According a report released by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and RCLCO real estate advisers, population growth in urban areas is tracking alongside suburban growth for the first time in decades.

Between 2010 and 2015, population in urban neighborhoods increased 3.4%, compared to 3.7% in the suburbs. This contrasts sharply to the period from 2000 to 2015 when urban population grew just 1% versus 13% in suburbs.

More than 29 million Americans now live in city neighborhoods, placing 17% of the United States population in just 1% of the land area in the 50 largest MSAs. Young people are leading the charge. Almost one-third of urban households are headed by person under 35 compared to only 17% of households in the suburbs.

Cities are increasingly where the jobs are. Urban areas accounted for 30% of existing jobs and 36% of new job grow the between 2005 and 2015, according to research by ULI, a nonprofit research institute funded by 40,000-plus members of the real estate community.

Chicago is a case in point. Walgreens recently announced it would relocate 1,300 jobs to The Old Post Office building in downtown Chicago from its headquarters in Deerfield, Ill. Google has its Chicago HQ in the West Loop, and McDonald’s just opened its new headquarters there after 47 years in Oak Brook.

A corresponding increase in downtown retail centers is not likely to be as dramatic, according to Paul Bryant, director of the urban team at Mid-America Real Estate.

“There’s certainly a shift [to urban areas] from a commercial standpoint. Five years ago in the West Loop, you didn’t see an Anthropologie or a Free People,” Bryant said.

“But are you going to see a Tom Ford or a Dolce & Gabbana?” Ford posed. “Probably not. What you’ll see are affordable luxury brands.”

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REAL ESTATE

Countdown on for Toys ‘R’ Us

BY Marianne Wilson

The end is fast approaching for bankrupt Toys “R” Us.

The chain, which has been steadily liquidating its U.S. operations, will close all its remaining stores on Friday, June 29. The retailer has been promoting its going-out-on business sale on its Twitter feed.

On March 15, Toys “R” Us announced plans to shut down its U.S. operations. All its stores are now conducting final liquidation sales, with many shelves empty of merchandise, according to reports. The 16-ft., 550-pound fiberglass statue of the retailer’s iconic mascot, Geoffrey the giraffe, that once graced the lobby of its Wayne, N.J., headquarters has found a new home at Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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Specialty coffee retailer in New York comeback

BY Marianne Wilson

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has big plans for New York City.

Nearly two years after it abruptly closed its 12 locations in the Big Apple due to a problem with the franchisee, the company announced plans to open 100 locations across prime real estate in New York City, beginning with Manhattan later this year. The stores will be opened through The Coffee Bean’s new franchisee, Hudson River Coffee & Tea, a venture made up of operators, developers and real estate experts.

“The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has maintained a steady growth rate over the past several years,” said John Fuller, CEO, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. “The return to New York is not only an indicator of our core strength as a leading roaster and retailer of coffee and tea, but also a strong indicator of our customers’ deep-rooted brand loyalty that exists across the globe.”

Based in Los Angeles, the chain operates more than 311 U.S. stores, primarily in Southern California, prima and more than 1,200 locations across 30 countries.

According to a recent poll from Siena College Research Institute, 62% of New Yorkers consume coffee on a daily basis, while 60% of those coffee drinkers have more than one cup per day.

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