The “New Housing Crisis” – Not Enough Rental Homes? | Zero Hedge

The point here is that while the housing market has recovered – the media should be asking ‘Is that all the recovery there is?’

With 30-year mortgage rates below 4%, we should be in the middle of the next housing bubble with prices and home ownership rising. The question the media should be asking is “why?” Furthermore, what happens if the “bond market bears” get their wish and rates rise?

The housing recovery is ultimately a story of the “real” unemployment situation that still shows that roughly a quarter of the home buying cohort are unemployed and living at home with their parents. The remaining members of the home buying, household formation, contingent are employed but at lower ends of the pay scale and are choosing to rent due to budgetary considerations. This explains why household formation is near its lowest levels on record despite the “housing recovery” fairytale whispered softly in the media.

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While the “official” unemployment rate suggests that the U.S. is near full employment, the roughly 94 million individuals sitting outside the labor force would likely disagree. Furthermore, considering that those individuals make up 45% of the 16-54 aged members of the workforce, it is no wonder that they are being pushed to rent due to budgetary considerations and an inability to qualify for a mortgage.

The risk to the housing recovery story remains in the Fed’s ability to continue to keep interest rates suppressed. It is important to remember that individuals “buy payments” rather than houses, so each tick higher in mortgage rates reduces someone’s ability to meet the monthly mortgage payment. With wages remaining suppressed, and a large number of individuals not working or on Federal subsidies, the pool of potential buyers remains contained.

The real crisis is NOT a lack of homes for people to buy, just a lack of enough homes for people to rent. Which says more about the “real economy” than just about anything else.

While there are many hopes pinned on the housing recovery as a “driver” of economic growth in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 – the lack of recovery in the home ownership data suggests otherwise.

Source: The “New Housing Crisis” – Not Enough Rental Homes? | Zero Hedge

Cleveland’s Revamped Public Square Mixes Downtown’s Future With Preservation – Next City

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The physical heart of Cleveland is a 10-acre civic space called Public Square, but until recently it wasn’t exactly pulsing with life. Two of downtown’s busiest roadways, Ontario Street and Superior Avenue, bisected the square, and its four quadrants felt neglected and forgotten. Instead of being a destination, it was a place people avoided.

Yet now, following a 15-month, $50 million renovation, Public Square is reopening as a dramatically re-envisioned centerpiece of the city’s ongoing redevelopment efforts. Designed by James Corner Field Operations, the architects behind New York’s High Line, it now has a lush green lawn, unobstructed city views, a full-service cafe with outdoor seating and a mirror pool that reflects the landmark buildings lining the square.

Perhaps most significantly, traffic has been eliminated through the park except for buses.

Source: Cleveland’s Revamped Public Square Mixes Downtown’s Future With Preservation – Next City

The Push to Revitalize Urban Alleys Across the United States Is Fostering Community and Sustainability – CityLab

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For places that were meant to be unseen, alleys take up a not-insubstantial amount of space. A 2011 report by Mary Fialko and Jennifer Hampton, graduate students at the University of Washington*, found that in Seattle, there are 217,000 square feet of public alley space downtown, 85 percent of which are underused. The report estimated that reinvigorating alleyways could increase the number of total public space in the city by 50 percent.Alleys, too, are vital players in a city’s overall ecosystem. As the need for cities to rely on more sustainable approaches has become more pressing, the proliferation of trash and flooding in alleyways has come to be seen not only an aesthetic blight, but an environmental one.And as Daniel Freedman of the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative says, there’s a lot of crossover between sound environmental practices and livability. Revitalizing an alleyway creates an opportunity to introduce green infrastructure, but also, Freedman says, it invites the surrounding community to collaborate on improvements and make use of the space.

Source: The Push to Revitalize Urban Alleys Across the United States Is Fostering Community and Sustainability – CityLab

Manhattan Retail Market | Retail Vacancies NYC

These days, hardly a week goes by without a new report about struggling retailers and rising vacancies in Manhattan.

Average retail asking rents fell year over year in seven of the borough’s 12 main retail submarkets in the first quarter of 2016, according to Cushman & Wakefield. And several prime shopping districts now have availability rates well over 20 percent, while stretches on Bleecker Street and Broadway have become notorious for their empty storefronts.

These signs of trouble are coinciding with record spending by retail investors and the rise of the retail condo.

Investors have shelled out $25 billion on Manhattan retail properties since the beginning of 2011, according to data from Real Capital Analytics. And in recent years, buyers have been more willing to dig deeper into their wallets and accept higher per-square-foot prices — forcing them to find tenants willing to pay high rents to justify their purchases.

Since 2000, RCA’s database counts 24 Manhattan retail condo sales that were priced at $10,000 per square foot or more. All of them closed after July 2011 and 17 closed in 2014 and 2015.

“I don’t want to say it’s a bubble but it’s been constantly bid up for six years,” Lee & Associates Managing Principal Peter Braus told The Real Deal.

Consolo added that retail condo sales prices have gone into the “stratosphere” in recent years.

“It is clear that there were numbers that were far too aggressive and the market just couldn’t keep up,” she said.

While real estate insiders are reluctant to call it a retail bubble, many acknowledge that a correction is imminent.

Michael Weiser, president of commercial brokerage GFI Realty Services, said the best indicator of whether Manhattan’s retail market is weakening is vacancy.

Availability rates — which measure the amount of retail space that is vacant or will become available — rose in all but one of Manhattan’s main retail submarkets between the first quarters of 2015 and 2016, according to Cushman.

Among those neighborhoods, several stand out: On Fifth Avenue between 42nd and 49th streets, a staggering 31 percent of retail space was available for lease. Meanwhile, Soho clocked in with a 25 percent availability rate followed by Herald Square and the Meatpacking District (both at 22 percent), Times Square (20 percent) and Madison Avenue (17 percent).

Braus said that owners who paid a steep price for retail space are more reluctant to accept lower rents. “That’s one reason why you’re seeing a lot of vacancies in those neighborhoods,” he noted.As it happens, those six districts were also home to the bulk of the priciest Manhattan retail purchases in the last two and half years, accounting for 57 of the 73 sales priced at $100 million or more recorded by RCA since January 2014. (That excludes office properties with retail components.) They are also among the neighborhoods where asking rents saw the steepest rise over the past two years, the numbers from Cushman & Wakefield show.

Worth the time to read the entire article here:

Source: Manhattan Retail Market | Retail Vacancies NYC | Thor

Bear Stearns 2.0? UK’s Largest Property Fund Halts Redemptions, Fears “Vicious Circle” | Zero Hedge

Beginning of the end?

In the summer of 2007, two inconsequential Bear Stearns property-related funds were gated and then liquidated, exposing the reality of the US housing bubble and catalyzing the collapse of the financial system. While equity markets have rebounded exuberantly post-Brexit, suggesting all is well, British property-related assets have tumbled and, as The FT reports, Standard Life has been forced to stop retail investors selling out of one of the UK’s largest property funds for at least 28 days after rapid cash outflows were sparked by fears over falling real estate values. As one analyst warned,

Source: Bear Stearns 2.0? UK’s Largest Property Fund Halts Redemptions, Fears “Vicious Circle” | Zero Hedge

A Small City with a Big Vision: Chattanooga’s New Form-Based Code – Form-Based Codes Institute : Form-Based Codes Institute

Chattanooga’s form-based code is part of an innovative vision for the city’s economic, environmental and cultural future. Following a recent visit to Chattanooga, Bruce Katz wrote in a Brookings Institute blog, “Something special is happening in Chattanooga.” As Katz points out, too often venture capitalists “pay too little attention to small and mid-sized cities with …

 

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Source: A Small City with a Big Vision: Chattanooga’s New Form-Based Code – Form-Based Codes Institute : Form-Based Codes Institute

CBF’s Brock Environmental Center to be awarded prestigious ‘Living Building’ certification | Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

One of the world’s greenest buildings 14 feet above sea level prepares for climate change

Source: CBF’s Brock Environmental Center to be awarded prestigious ‘Living Building’ certification | Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building