Developer Breaks Ground On A Neighborhood In Tempe, Arizona, For People—And No Cars

A San Francisco-based developer aims to create the country’s first car-free community in Tempe, Arizona, from the ground up. Culdesac, which bills itself as the world’s first post-car real estate developer, is building a 1,000-person neighborhood called Culdesac Tempe. In a car-centric society, the implications for this ambitious vision are far-reaching. Culdesac intends to establish a vibrant people-focused neighborhood and lead the way for the future of planning for urban communities. Culdesac Tempe has been conceived as a pedestrian community with a strong sense of place that lives like a close-knit neighborhood village rather than a series of unrelated apartment buildings lined up in a row. Click to read more at www.forbes.com.

City Council Will Hear Thoughts From Residents On Comprehensive Revision To Land Use Rules At Weekend Hearing

Austin City Council is scheduled to cast its first vote on the latest draft of a comprehensive revision of its land use rules and zoning maps Dec. 9. Ahead of the vote, elected officials are holding a public testimony over the weekend for anyone to weigh in on the changes. The city’s land development code governs which and how structures can be built in the city, and the accompanying zoning maps dictate where specific development can occur. Significant makeovers to both pieces have been proposed in response to Austin’s rapid growth and will directly impact the physical character of Austin for years to come. The hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Austin City Hall, is the second such weekend public hearing on the land use code rewritten this fall. The Austin Planning Commission held a similar hearing in October ahead of its own vote on the revision. The window to sign up to speak will be open between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Speakers will get 2 minutes to speak to City Council. Saturday’s hearing marks the home stretch of the revision effort that extends back to 2012 and has directly cost taxpayers more than $8.5 million in costs associated with the rewrite. Click to read more at www.communityimpact.com.

Effectively Using Letters Of Intent In Real Estate Negotiations

Before agreeing to a real estate sales contract or lease, the parties may prepare a letter of intent, term sheet or other form of preliminary agreement (together, called here an “LOI”). Generally, an LOI may be signed or at least initialed and reflects that the parties have agreed on certain important terms of a deal, though not on all of its provisions or details. LOIs serve useful purposes. One is to avoid misunderstandings arising out of complex negotiations. For example, by setting out those terms on which agreement has been reached, an LOI may narrow the areas for future negotiation. Similarly, an LOI may stipulate that certain formalities must be met, such as a final signed writing, before either party is bound to perform the transaction. Another common purpose of an LOI is to secure the parties’ exclusive efforts toward concluding the transaction. As a federal appeals court has explained, “When a deal necessarily is preceded by costly groundwork, a letter of intent may benefit both the purchaser and the seller…. [T]he buyer secures the seller’s undivided attention as long as progress continues in ironing out the points of the transaction. Neither party has committed himself to the exchange. Both have agreed to work toward it.” Click to read more at www.rejournals.com.

US Economy Smashes Forecasts, Adds 266,000 Jobs in November

Government data out Friday showed the US added far more jobs than expected in November, relieving concerns that one of the brightest spots in the economy was starting to run out of steam. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said 266,000 nonfarm payrolls were created last month, pushing the unemployment rate to a historically low 3.5%. The figure was temporarily boosted by the end of a six-week strike at General Motors, which had idled roughly 50,000 workers throughout October. Economists had predicted that would help lift payroll gains to 185,000 in November from 156,000 a month earlier. “Looking at the high number of jobs that were added in November, you might forget that the story for most of this year was that the economy was slowing down,” said Nick Bunker, the research director at Indeed Hiring Lab.” Click to read more at www.markets.businessinsider.com.

Houston Office Monthly Market Snapshot November 2019

Some market indicators positive, though future uncertainty persists. Halfway through the fourth quarter of 2019, overall vacancy is at 21.0% and availability is at 25.9%, both down 10 basis points from this time last year. Net absorption was back in positive territory at 898,000 sq. ft. Leasing activity is outpacing this time last year by 9.8%, totaling 13.9 million sq. ft. year-to-date. Developments under construction and delivered projects have also outpaced November 2018 year-to-date numbers. The Houston average asking full-service rent has increased to $29.68 per sq. ft., while the Central Business District is averaging $41.35 per sq. ft. Marathon Oil’s new tower in CityCentre. 990 Town & Country Blvd., a 15-story, 440,000-sq.-ft. Class A office tower in CityCentre will be the new headquarters for Marathon Oil. Construction is set to start soon on the project as the energy company relocates a little less than 6 miles west of its current location at 5555 San Felipe St. in the Galleria/West Loop area. Marathon has been in their current location for more than three decades and plans to relocate when its current lease expires in late 2021. Click to read more at www.naipartners.com.

Opportunity Zone Outlook: Expert Craig Bernstein Outlines His Expectations or The Program’s Future

As this article goes to press, the clock is ticking on two of the first significant deadlines connected to Opportunity Zones. The countdown is on to Dec. 31.
“The first issue is the 15-percent step-up in basis, which effectively gives you a 15-percent discount on your initial Capital Gains taxes that would be
due in December 2026. An example would be the sale of Netflix stock,” explains Craig Bernstein, Principal and Chief Investment Officer at OPZ
Bernstein, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate private equity fund that specializes in Qualified Opportunity Zone fund investments (“QOF”). That step-up in basis is a huge selling point of the Opportunity Zone program, created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. By reinvesting Capital Gains in Qualified Opportunity Zone funds, investors are able to defer, reduce and, in some cases, eliminate any Long-Term Capital Gains taxes on the Opportunity Zone Fund investment. Click to read more at www.rednews.com.