Store No. 8

Walmart is launching Store No 8 – a Silicon Valley-based, stand-alone incubator tasked with developing the retail technology Walmart needs in order to modernize and become more competitive with rivals such as over the next five to ten years. Led by Wal-Mart’s G. Seth Beal and’s Katie Finnegan, the innovation hub will focus on research areas including robots, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence, according to CNBC.

In an effort to expand its e-commerce sector, Walmart purchased last year for $3.3 billion and in the last two months it has acquired specialty online retailers ModCloth, ShoeBuy and Moosejaw. Walmart’s digital sales increased by almost 30 percent during the holidays, according to Fortune.

Lord & Taylor v. White Flint

A 1975 agreement between White Flint (the developer of what would become White Flint Mall) and Lord & Taylor committed the retailer to lease land on the mall site and in exchange, White flint would construct an enclosed “first class” mall and then maintain it until at least 2042. In 2012, co-anchor Bloomingdale’s chose not to renew its lease and by 2013, most of the tenants had left the mall. White Flint officially closed in January 2015 leaving Lord & Taylor as the sole operating business.

White Flint drew up redevelopment plans to transform the enclosed mall into a mixed-use development with residential, retail and office space. Lord & Taylor objected to the redevelopment on the grounds of the 1975 agreement arguing in part that White Flint allowed and even hastened the existing mall’s demise because it intended to redevelop. Furthermore, Lord & Taylor argued that the proposed mixed-use plan would make customer access to the store less convenient and take away the benefit of foot traffic from mall customers.  Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the U.S. District Court’s ruling including the awarding of $31 million in damages to Lord & Taylor. The future of the redevelopment project remains uncertain.

White Flint Redevelopment Site – Photo: Bisnow

White Flint Redevelopment Plan – Image: Bethesda Magazine

Rent Affordability in DC

According to a residential rental affordability index developed by London-based real estate firm Nested, DC is the fourth most expensive rental city in the U.S. and sixth most expensive globally (among 72 cities worldwide). At $3.33/sf, the annual income required to keep rent at no greater than 29 percent of gross income is $57,671 for a single person (assuming a minimum space requirement of 420sf) and $109,756 for a family of four (minimum space requirement of 797sf).

Retail Numbers – February 2017

Commerce Department figures released this week show that purchases rose 0.1 percent in February after a 0.6 percent increase in the prior month, according to Bloomberg. The retail control group (which is used to calculate GDP and excludes food services, auto dealers, home-improvement stores and service stations), rose by 0.1 percent in February after an increase of 0.8 percent in January. Retail sales excluding automobiles and service stations increased by 0.2 percent last month while sales at stores that sell electronics and appliances fell by 2.8 percent the largest drop since December 2011.

Taxation in India

Property taxes make up the lowest proportion of total tax revenue in India, compared to the rest of the G20 economies, according to research from Carnegie India. In 2012-2013, income taxes were assessed on just three percent of the Indian population (31.9 million out of a total population of approximately 1.2 billion). Of this three percent, about 98 percent had incomes of less than $10,000, 0.8 percent had incomes of more than $15,000, and only 18,359 assessees had incomes in excess of $150,000.

500 D SW

Atlanta-based Goddard Investment Group recently purchased the vacant Class A property located at 500 D Street SW (known as National Square) for $93 million ($272.50/sf). Developed by Trammell Crow Company, the 12-story, 341,281sf office building delivered in 2015.

National Square – Image: Clark Construction

The Travel Ban’s Chilling Effect on Business Travel to the U.S.

According to The Hill, research from Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) shows that travel bookings increased by 1.2 percent the week before Executive Order 13769 (the travel ban executive order) went into effect but decreased 2.2 percent the week after. The net decrease of one percent amounts to a loss of about $185 million for the business-travel industry.

Although the seven countries directly affected by the ban have a combined negligible effect on incoming travel to the U.S., the tone of the policy is have a chilling effect on overall traveler confidence, according to the report.  A GBTA poll found that almost half of European business professionals expected their companies to reduce business travel to the U.S. over the next three months. Of the total 2016 U.S. business travel, 12.7 percent was international and 87.3 percent was domestic.

Multifamily Sector Update: February 2017

This year, 320,000 new apartment units are expected to come online – the largest number so far during this cycle, according to Bisnow (citing data from Yardi Matrix). Rents increased by $5/month in January (4.6 percent annually) to an average $1,315/month in the 124 markets tracked by Yardi. The national multifamily occupancy rate is 95.6 percent.

Audi Field

Last week, the DC Zoning Commission granted approval for the construction of Audi Field, DC United’s new $300 million stadium. Located at Buzzard point, the 20,000-seat stadium will include 31 luxury suites, four of which will be reserved for city, team and league use. DC pledged $150 million toward land acquisition and infrastructure costs at the site, while DC United will spend up to $200 million on the project, according to The Washington Post. The development project will also include 500,000sf of retail space, according to The Architect’s Newspaper.

One of 22 teams in the MLS, DC United’s current home is RFK Stadium where the team averaged 17,081 fans for 17 regular season home matches last year, according to the Post.

Audi Field – Image: DC United