Real

Sears Closures Add Millions of Square Feet to Commercial Real Estate Market

Beleaguered retail behemoth Sears is considering liquidation, which would add an estimated millions more square feet of unused commercial space nationwide, Forbes reports. Since it announced bankruptcy last October, Sears has either closed or plans to close 260 of its 700 retail locations. In 2015, Sears Chairman and former CEO Eddie Lampert created the real estate investment trust Seritage Growth Properties, seeking to capitalize on the real estate value of Sears’ holdings; however, there is no indication if this was done in light of bankruptcy considerations. 

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Metro Council Approves Infrastructure Funding for Nashville Yards Development

The Metro Nashville Council recently voted to grant preliminary approval for $15.2 million earmarked towards road, sewer and other infrastructure needs around the Nashville Yards project which will be home to Amazon’s HQ2, The Tennessean reports. The move also approves participation, easement and license agreements between Metro and Uptown Property Holdings, the building group in charge of development. Council member Kathleen Murphy — one of only three detractors — denounced the city’s interest in the infrastructure plan, saying that it was just "another incentive" for Amazon and that the money would be better spent on other projects throughout the city. The council will make its final decision regarding the infrastructure reimbursement on Feb. 5.

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Oak Ridge Intends to Break Ground on Regional Airport Within Next Couple of Years

The much-anticipated Oak Ridge airport moves closer to reality, with city leaders hoping to break ground on the project within the next couple of years, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Since 2009, the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority has maintained the need for a general aviation airport in the city because of population growth in the area, and increased business travel needs from places like Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Coqui Pharmaceuticals Corp. Though Oak Ridge has seen plans for an airport come and go over the years, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said that this plan "has legs.” It calls for a 5,000-foot runway, a partial parallel taxiway and approximately 40 hangars on the 171 acres of land acquired from the U.S. Department of Energy on the former K-25 uranium enrichment facility site.

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Real Estate Investments Safer than Other Sectors in Flailing Market

Real estate fund investments remain relatively stable despite a mercurial stock market, The New York Times reports. As the S&P 500 plunged 13.52 percent in the fourth quarter, FTSE Nareit All Equity R.E.I.T.s Index — the leading index of publicly traded real estate investment trusts — lost only 6.1 percent, marking a 4 percent loss for the entirety of 2018, compared to an S&P 500 loss of 4.4 percent, including dividends, for the same period. The sector has achieved comparative stability through tangible assets, banking on office buildings, malls and warehouses.

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Memphis Proposes Registry for Rental Properties

The City of Memphis has plans for a real property registry intended to monitor and track rental properties, compile data and make focused decisions regarding allocation of resources to those that have a history of code violations, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The registry would require landlords to have a local, registered agent to consult regarding code violations and other matters in attempts to prevent blight and ensure accountability from property owners. This would be the first step for the city’s 3.0 comprehensive land-use plan, with prospective tax changes and other affordable housing measures on the horizon.

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Metro Council to Consider Development Incentives Proposal

A Metro Nashville Council proposal would link economic and community development incentives to investment and support for affordable housing. Councilmember Fabian Bedne has introduced a bill which would require Metro to make matching payments to the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing when awarding incentive grants to companies seeking to relocate to the city, The Nashville Post reports. According to the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development, total incentive grants in the 2018 fiscal year were $1.53 million. The bill is set to be considered at next week's Metro Council meeting. 

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Meigs County Landowners Fight TVA Land Access

A Meigs County landowner is fighting back on TVA’s plans to run a high-voltage transmission line across his property, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Georgetown farmer Greg Vital has filed a suit contesting U.S. District Court Judge Sandy Mattice's grant of a temporary easement allowing access to several properties to survey potential tower sites for the transmission line, which will serve the organization's new 185,000-square-foot power control center in Chattanooga. TVA maintains that it chose the rural Meigs County site to provide greater security and make it less vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse attacks or other potential threats to TVA's power grid.

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FTC Says Americans Spent $100 Million on Belize Real Estate Scam

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed suit on what it alleges is a $100 million real-estate investment scam targeting Americans who wish to retire abroad, The Wall Street Journal reports. Belize’s Atlantic International Bank was selling parcels in a remote jungle area — which the bank said would become a luxury resort community — and reportedly pocketing the investors’ money. Several investors sued the developers in 2016, however, their Belizean attorney was fatally shot in his home, which local authorities labeled a suicide. The project operated under various names over a span of 13 years and involved more than 1,000 investors.

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Nashville Passes Ordinance Limiting Use of Proceeds From Property Sales

The Nashville Metro Council voted 34-0 last week to prohibit the sale of real property owned by Metro government to pay for city operating expenses, the Tennessean reports. Mayor David Briley had proposed the sale of three Metro properties in June, with the proceeds going to the 2018-19 city budget, however, those sales did not materialize. Under the new ordinance, revenue from the sale of city-owned properties will go toward paying off the city’s debt.

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Knoxville Sees Growth in Outside Investors

The city of Knoxville has seen an abundance of outside real estate investors, joining Memphis and Nashville in the state’s red-hot commercial real estate market, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Investors say that they are drawn to the city because of the market’s stability, with the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge to anchor the area’s economy. Multi-family and apartment sales volume sustained 35 percent of total investments, yielding more than $48 billion.

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