Commercial real estate news from the wall street journal, 2021-Dec 15th

(Article by Craig Karmin, WSJ)

Good morning.  Office building owners have seen this before. Companies announce they are preparing to return to the office in full force, only to delay plans when a Covid-19 variant appears. That’s what happened on a large scale when post Labor Day return to work plans were upended by the delta variant. And to a lesser degree, January could experience something of a repeat performance, writes Peter Grant.

A number of companies have modified or delayed plans as uncertainties swirl around the Omicron variant. The list includes Lyft, Ford, Uber and Google, though not all point to the new variant as the reason. Small business owners that rely on office workers already sound frustrated by the prospects of further delays. “January gets pushed back to February. February will get pushed back to March,” said Rick Passarelli, owner of a Bobby Van’s steakhouse in Manhattan.

Retail property owners have had a tough time during much of the pandemic, but open-air shopping centers are having their moment, reports Kate King. Landlords filled 17 million square feet of additional real-estate space for these shopping centers last quarter, a 49% increase from 2019. Grocery stores are often the anchor, said CBRE’s Brandon Isner. “It’s almost an automatic flow of foot traffic, because grocery is the greatest retail need,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal has written a lot about problems plaguing New York City’s Times Square district during the pandemic, but more recently there’s been some good news. Real-estate investment trust Paramount Group and a partner have agreed to pay more than $190 million for the retail space that houses M&M’s World, a 25,000-square-foot confectionery and gift shop in Times Square. That represented one of New York City’s biggest retail transactions since the start of the pandemic, Kate King writes.

Happy Holidays. This newsletter will not publish on Dec. 22. It will return on Dec. 29.

                                                               -- Craig Karmin, Real Estate Bureau Chief