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Inside Real Estate (Nov 15th, 2017)

Bill Gates has purchased 25,000 acres in Arizona to create a new smart city named Belmont. Through his investment firm, Belmont Partners, he spent $80 million on the land in Southwest Arizona about 45 miles away from Phoenix. The city will be located along a proposed freeway that will run from Northern Nevada to Mexico. It will feature high-speed internet built into the city, streets designed for self-driving cars, and sustainable manufacturing technology. The city will be a community that includes schools, offices, stores, and 80,000 homes. Once it is complete it’s expected to have a population of over 180,000, roughly comparable to Tempe, Arizona. No timeline for construction has been released. – BUSINESS INSIDER 

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Plans have been released for a building in Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District which would be the tallest skyscraper in the Pacific Northwest. The rendering by William Kaven Architecture calls for two towers, the taller of which would soar up to 970 feet. The buildings would be linked by a glass bridge and would contain office space, retail, and residences. The project would be developed on the site of the US Postal Service headquarters which was purchased by the urban renewal agency, Prosper Portland for $88 million. Current zoning in the area calls for buildings only up to 400 feet. A formal proposal will be submitted to Prosper Portland next year. – OREGON LIVE

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Vancouver has passed new restrictions on short-term rentals including banning homeowners from listing entire condos, self-contained units, and unoccupied homes. The new regulations come as the city grapples with housing shortages and skyrocketing rents. Vancouver residents can rent out a room at their residence or rent out their primary residence when on vacation but will have to pay a licensing fee to the city. The new legislation should bring approximately 1,000 units onto the market for long-term rentals. Airbnb and HomeAway have both said they will continue to operate in Vancouver. – VANCOUVER SUN

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The House has passed a bill that reforms the National Flood Insurance Program. The 21st Century Flood Reform Act will increase flood insurance rates for some property owners as the current premiums are not keeping up with the expense of the claims. The NFIP is the only flood insurance available to many homeowners who live in flood-prone areas. Last month, a disaster relief measure allotted $16 billion for the NFIP which has struggled to pay all of the claims generated in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill early next year. – HOUSING WIRE

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A report on Manhattan’s new developments from CityRealty states that development of large buildings will increase within the next few years. The 2017 Manhattan New Development Report shows that while new development sales dropped to $8.3 billion in 2017 from $9.4 billion in 2016, new large buildings could drive total sales up as high as $11.9 billion by 2020. In 2017, new condos hit a record average price of $5.5 million and represented 29 percent of the total Manhattan condo market. New projects including One Manhattan Square, Central Park Tower, and 220 Central Park South will all contribute to a luxury boom. The Upper East Side will see the most new condos completed. – MANSION GLOBAL

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Imprisoned Saudi Arabian Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is said to be selling off some of his real estate assets. He is reportedly seeking buyers for the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut and the Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Beirut which are part of his Kingdom Holding Company. The company recently also sold off its stake in the Four Seasons in Langkawi, Malaysia. The Lebanese Daily Star newspaper reported that after a bank completes its due diligence the sales will be announced. The Saudi information ministry has said the government would seize any asset or property related to the corruption investigation. – DAILY MAIL

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GGP Inc., one of the largest mall owners in the US, confirmed it received an unsolicited proposal from Brookfield Property Partners for $14.8 billion to buy all outstanding shares of stock in the real estate investment trust. GGP’s portfolio mostly consists of "Class A" malls, but like other mall owners, it has struggled with store closures and declining foot traffic. The bid is seen as a low-ball offer by analysts. Brookfield’s existing portfolio includes office properties, multifamily and student housing as well as self-storage centers. 

Last week, Dan Loeb's Third Point hedge fund announced that it has acquired a stake in mall owner Macerich, another sign that some large dealmaking is underway in the retail space. It is anticipated that Loeb will agitate for changes and potentially a sale.

Also this week, it was revealed that Paul Singer’s Elliott Management is building up a stake in Taubman Centers, which owns the Mall at Short Hills, the Beverly Center, and other luxury malls. Reports say that the $34 billion activist hedge fund is angling for Taubman Centers to sell. Five months ago, another activist investor, Jonathan Litt’s Land & Buildings sought seats on the company’s board and pressed for a sale. Taubman has appointed two new independent directors to its board in an attempt to flank these efforts. – BLOOMBERG

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HOT PROPERTIES OF THE WEEK

Actress Eva Longoria has listed the Los Angeles home she bought from Tom Cruise for $14 million. Longoria bought the home for $11.4 million and hired architect Mark Rios to design a renovation and addition proposal which are being sold with the home. The 2.5-acre property includes two separate houses, a three-bedroom villa, and a four-bedroom country house as well as a small stone cottage and two small studios. Longoria also recently purchased a two-story home in the Beverly Crest area of Los Angeles for $13.5 million. The eight-bedroom estate includes a wine cellar and a tennis court. – LA TIMES

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The London house that where Virginia Woolf and her husband began the Hogarth Press is on the market for £3.75 million (approximately $4.37 million). Hogarth House is a Grade-II Georgian building in Richmond, Surrey. The Woolfs lived in the home from 1915 to 1924. The property was used for business suites but has now been restored into two townhouses named Virginia and Leonard after its famous owners. The homes feature wall paneling, high corniced ceilings, and a garden in the rear. – THE SPACES

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Johnny Depp has sold the last of his five properties inside the Eastern Columbia Building in downtown Los Angeles. Depp put all five properties on the market in 2016 for $12.78 million. The last penthouse sold for $1.425 million, bringing his total results to $10.88 million in total. The penthouse includes a mural by Brazilian street artist Osgemeos running from floor to ceiling in the main living area. The historic Art Deco building includes a shared terrace, saltwater pool, and spa, sundeck and fitness studio. – FORBES

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WHEN REAL ESTATE IS YOUR DREAM JOB

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