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December 2016  |  Newsletter

President’s Letter

The year may have begun with many uncertainties in our world…the election, economic concerns, price of oil/gas….but one thing I know with certainty are the accomplishments of CREW CT in 2016.

Our year was filled with robust programming which included multiple networking events, educational programs, two awesome career events with the UCONN Business School and the City of Hartford and culminating with over 30 of our members attending the CREW National Convention in NYC in October.

Jennifer Marks PhotoJennifer Marks, President

We participated in several fundraisers, most recently Dress for Success, along with hosting a silent auction at our summer social event to support member scholarships for the CREW National Convention.

We recently kicked off our 2017 planning with our board transition meeting and are gearing up for CREW CT’s 30th year. Members can look forward to continued vibrant programs and a series of special events to commemorate our birthday year.

Finally, it has been my honor to serve CREW CT as your 2016 President. I’ve seen firsthand the value CREW offers to each of us and the broader community. The networking, relationship building, and access to smart and impressive women is allowing our organization to grow stronger year after year. I look forward to continuing my friendships with all of you!

Former CREW CT President to Retire

Beth Ann Harney, CSM, Vice President, Asset Management at Hutensky Capital Partners and CREW CT president in 2014 retires at the end of this month after an impressive 30-year career in real estate. She was previously employed by Citicorp Investment Management in New York City.

Beth plans to spend more time with her grown sons, pursue hobbies as a quilter and gardener, and take a more active role in several charities and civic groups that reflect her passions for food insecurity and mentoring younger women. The Bolton Heritage Farm Commission, for which she has long been involved, will continue as a focus. And, of course, she plans to continue with her CREW colleagues on our strategic initiatives for CREW CT 2020. Beth says “I am sure that a few months after I retire I will wonder how I ever worked at all!”


Harney Photo
Beth Ann Harney,
CREW CT Past President

Member Reflections and Predictions for 2017

We asked a selection of members for their thoughts about trends and issues that will impact real estate in the coming year. We thank them for the thoughtful comments below.

Maura Cochran, Principal at Bartram & Cochran

There will be several issues impacting real estate:

  • The FASB regulations that mandate that long-term leases be treated as an obligation for reporting purposes will take effect. The impact may be that firms will choose to buy rather than lease key properties.
  • President-elect Trump's push to have firms remain domestic will impact off-shoring
  • As states move toward legalizing recreational pot, Class C industrial buildings will be re-purposed for growing pot. Low ceilings turn out to be a plus!
  • School districts are going to be looking at how to close schools as enrollments decline and demographics shift.

Kate Mylod, Partner at Shipman & Goodwin

Here are a few thoughts on 2017, from where I sit as a finance and real estate attorney who practices both locally and nationally in the capital markets.

  • What people can’t help but to keep an eye on…interest rates and the Trump administration. We’re all looking at our cloudy crystal balls wondering when (not if) the Feds will hike the interest rate, and what the Trump administration will really do when January 20, 2017 has come and gone. Rates going up is likely to chill business activity for some in the commercial real estate world, but that could be balanced by lower taxes. Lower taxes may also incentivize even more foreign dollars to continue investing in U.S. commercial real estate.
  • What people can no longer live without…door to door delivery of just about everything. Amazon has practically taken over everyone’s life (well, mine at least), and the retail business has drastically changed and will continue to change as a result. No longer is it getting the tissues, Lego set, bike rack, and diapers within 48 hours from Amazon, or getting the groceries delivered from your local Stop n’ Shop. We are now having just about everything shipped to our homes and workplaces, including meals in various states of preparation (think Blue Apron). All of those suppliers need warehouse space and lots of it to keep product practically moments away from everyone. As retail as an asset class continues to wane, with big boxes phasing out but specialty boutiques holding on, warehouse space in disparate areas is getting gobbled up.
  • Speaking of warehouses...Look for growth in new construction and refitting for warehouse space with infrastructure to support all of our various cloud based systems - i.e. rows and rows of servers processing and emitting data in climate controlled, high security, reinforced structures. Locations will tend to be far enough away from urban centers, but close enough to civilization so that people will want to work at the site.
  • Where people want to live…Cities remain robust. Locally, New Haven, Norwalk and Hartford are all adding to their housing stock with new or converted apartments. The millennial generation wants where they live to be close to where they work and play. Query if one or more of these markets may reach a saturation point in 2017. Fairfield County, particularly Stamford, is seeing an uptick in ex-pats from NYC venturing across state lines to get more luxury living quarters for less rent. But, those folks are not buying or renting houses - they want new apartments, in the urban center. The Fairfield County suburbs remain flat and houses are not moving at the rates that they used to; the business departures of late have not helped.
  • While it’s clichéd, it is true - the only thing that I think will be certain for 2017 will be uncertainty.

Beth Ann Harney, V.P. Asset Management at Hutensky Capital Partners

I see a number of trends in the retail sector:

  • I think we will see more change in store sizes, as box tenants figure out their perfect size. It has become a complicated formula, factoring in their cost of occupancy per SF as a function of sales attributable to bricks and mortar stores, plus online sales associated with each outlet. Many retailers are re-inventing their distribution and fulfillment processes, increasing inventory at the store level, requiring more SF; others will contract their store footprint and expand at the warehouse level. This has ramifications for shopping centers and industrial markets alike.
  • The American consumer has little brand loyalty in the traditional sense, particularly among millennials, who are looking for value, convenience and what is trending now. New retail models with a ‘cool’ factor will spur on retail, entertainment and experiential/ lifestyle development, and traditional formats will scramble to keep up. Some retail locations will no longer be relevant, and owners and lenders who have invested in these properties will struggle to re-invent them. Savvy investors will look for properties trading at a discount that can be made relevant again.
  • I predict that there will be increasing synergy between landlords and tenants in retail projects, as image marketing and promotions become a larger sales driver. Even traditional properties, such as grocery anchored centers and convenience strips will need to attract customers with social media branding and promotional messaging – and tenants will have to contribute their share of the cost.
  • Finally, we will all become more comfortable with the omni-channel concept of retailing, and the convenience factor will increase sales. Cyber security – the stores ability to protect consumer information and their own proprietary data – will be critical to an expansion of this format. But consumer resistance to buying without touching the product will be diminished with improved experiences. However, don’t underestimate the entertainment and recreational value of shopping – humans are social creatures, and dining out is the fastest growing segment of the retail industry. So shopping centers will evolve but I think they are here to stay.

Pam Torsiello, CPA, CRE, Asset Manager & CFO at Chestnut Realty Management, LLC

As we look to 2017:

  • Tax Uncertainty: Our national leaders at CREW Network are involved in the Real Estate Roundtable in Washington. We have an opportunity to provide feedback about the potentially large scale impact of any proposed tax legislation on the Real Estate Industry. One example of the legislative agenda proposed includes eliminating the interest deduction for real estate investors. This could have wide ranging impacts on our industry similar to the Tax Reform Act of 1986 which effectively crumbled the Limited Partnerships of that era.
  • Less opportunity in the Middle: Whether you define the middle as the middle class or a market in the middle of two thriving cities, there are always winners and losers as we invest. We all know demographics drive real estate. A shrinking middle class means purchasing power will divide retail and housing and drive growth toward the two ends of the income spectrum. For example, the growth of experiential retail; the advertisements to buy cars as Christmas presents and the explosion of multi-family in Boston.
  • We are watching NYC and Boston thrive and can see those markets are overheating although tempering a bit. Rather than compete, Connecticut has the opportunity to consider how to capitalize on being in close proximity. Even better if we can sell ourselves as a somewhat cheaper alternative and with plenty of diverse talent.
  • Connecticut has a tremendous amount of manufacturing and we should tout those successes. We need to support them as well. There are old line manufacturing firms who need succession planning and startups who need the synergies that come from collaboration. There are opportunities for us all to help and benefit. From a real estate perspective, let’s keep front of mind how to create enough density to attract talent for cross pollination in the industries we value; this will help drive success and increase the pie.

Retail Brick and Mortar Thrives Despite the Changes

We were pleased to host Liz Holland, chief executive officer of Abbell Associates, and chairman of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) at our November program.


Nov Photo
Liz Holland is interviewed by Brad Hutensky
at the November program

She was interviewed by the organization’s past chairman and Hartford’s own, Brad Hutensky, principal and president of Hutensky Capital Partners. Liz indicated she had enjoyed traveling to meet members throughout the world and educating the public and investors about the industry.

A focus of the conversation was on the role and effect of Internet shopping on retail real estate, and Liz provided many interesting statistics. She stated that the Internet has certainly made for better- informed consumers. In looking at data, 8.2% of retail sales were over the Internet, including shipping and handling charges and prescription drugs. The net volume, excluding these charges, is actually 3.3% of retail sales. She has been meeting with important editorial boards at publications such as the Wall Street Journal to share this type of information.

Other highlights from Liz’s talk:

  • Main Street Fairness bills, an effort to collect sales tax for all Internet sales, continue to grow around the country. The Supreme Court’s “Quill decision,” in which there is no tax collection if there is no physical presence in the buyer’s state, has given Internet sellers an advantage. While the National Governor’s Association favors sales tax collection, many Republicans have signed a pledge not to raise taxes of any kind. [Recently the Supreme Court declined to overturn a bill in Colorado requiring sales taxes on all purchases, which may signal a trend change in favor of this position].
  • The impact of demographics is a major force in the retail business. Baby Boomers, who fueled retail growth for many years, are simply not buying as much, and there is less demand from the smaller group of Gen Xers. Millennials have not reached the acquisitive stage of life, with many putting off marriage, family and home ownership. This has impacted store contractions, closings and shopping center changes.
  • These changes will make some retail projects irrelevant, but others will have new life and a changed format. Examples: Single-floor mall transformations that include typically free-standing stores like Target, converting to dual entrances within and without the mall. The and addition of special entertainment venues featuring food/movies/ brew houses are also expanding (Flix Brewhouse, billed as “America’s Cinema Brewery,” intended to attract a younger demographic).
  • Millennials are a “brand,” a factor in how they do their shopping
  • Liz’s prediction for the future: Transit-oriented development, which is starting to happen around Connecticut. Examples include larger retail platforms at airports and train stations, and busway developments that feature downtown commercial stops to live, work and play.

Member News

Congratulations to BL Companies for their recognition by the CT Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects in the 2017 Connecticut Professional Awards. The firm was honored with a Merit Award in the category of Built Works-Municipal/Public Spaces for their project “State of Connecticut Veterans Memorial at Minuteman Park” in Hartford.

Kelsey Rath, Vice President at Talcott Realty Investors and her UCONN Real Estate classmates are participating in the University Portfolio Challenge sponsored by Altus Group, the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT), and National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries (NCREIF). Besides glory, real winnings for the School are at stake, a sum of $30,000 for the top total return for the year. So far, top public sector winner and top overall leader is the University of Connecticut, producing a 7.67% return in only a three-month period. Their risk of investing 95% of their portfolio in Timber REITs managed to add a weighted return of 7.33% to their total. Adding in a 5% allocation to Industrial REITs didn’t hurt and gained another 0.34%. Congrats and continued good luck to Kelsey.

Welcome New Members

We are pleased to welcome our newest member:
Amy D. Arcano, VP, Commercial Services Manager at CATIC (Connecticut Attorneys Title Insurance Company)

Future Member News:
Please send news items and CREW CT network success stories to newsletter editor anne@elvgrenassociates.com

Jennifer Marks
Principal, BL Companies
203.608.2507
jmarks@blcompanies.com

 

         
         
THIRSTY THURSDAY
January 19, 2017
  BREAKFAST PROGRAM
February 2, 2017
  ANNUAL EVENT
April 2017

Networking, all welcome.
DISH - 900 Main St
5:30-8:00 pm
Free, no registration required, just show up!

 

The Baby-Boomer BOOM - Assisted Living Facilities
SAVE-THE-DATE!
8:00 am
More info coming soon >

 

22nd Annual Blue Ribbon Awards Showcase
Project nomination info coming soon!

 

Thanks to Our 2016 Sponsors!

PENTHOUSE

BL Companies

CATIC

CohnReznick LLP

Community Investment Corporation (CIC)

First Niagara Foundation

Hutensky Capital Partners

Phase Zero Design, Inc.

The Fidelity Family of Title Insurers:
Chicago Title / Commonwealth Land Title / Fidelity National Title


The Simon Konover Company

Whittlesey and Hadley, P.C.

EXECUTIVE

Fuss & O'Neill, Inc.

Loureiro Engineering Associates, Inc.

McCarter & English, LLP

PAC Group LLC

Peabody Office

Unity Construction Group

 

BOARDROOM

Bligh Graphics, LLC
Burke Reprographics LLC / plansforless.com
CBRE New England
Clohessy, Harris & Kaiser Architects, LLC
Cohn Birnbaum & Shea P.C.
Colliers International
GZA
Halloran & Sage LLP
Hinckley Allen
ID3A, LLC
Interscape Commercial Environments
KBE Building Corporation
MetroHartford Alliance
Murtha Cullina LLP
OFI
Performance Environmental Services
Red Thread
Robinson + Cole, LLP
Shipman & Goodwin LLP
The S/L/A/M Collaborative, Inc.
Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C.

 

More Sponsorship Opportunities Available. Contact: Janet Wheeler

Become a CREW Member TODAY! Conact: Kelsey Rath

CREWCT.org

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