Real estate sectors visible recovering in 2014 in Sacramento

downtownplazatower2-304xx1304-1954-223-0Source: ~ Author: Ben van der Meer

It has been an encouraging year for real estate. With retail centers getting new owners, industrial developers building on spec and multifamily properties being snapped up, sectors are visibly recovering.

Consider the following examples:

Downtown Sacramento— It’s a big “if,” but if every new proposal for downtown Sacramento gets built, the skyline will be notably different in another five years.Downtown Plaza Tower would be the focus of a new entertainment district. And of course the new arena across the plaza will draw attention for years to come. To the south, Sacramento Commons would boost downtown residential development, while across J Street from the arena and tower,Vanir Tower would be the shiniest office space on the block. Add in new talk about the Metropolitan coming back to life, redevelopment immediately around the arena and big names like Kaiser Permanente and Buzz Oates Group of Cos. making downtown plays, and there’s suddenly a lot happening.
Speculative construction: Vanir Tower is an example of this on the office side, but it’s still years away. Other spec projects, though, are getting active now, including the Stone Point office complex in Roseville and Ridge Capital’s industrial project in West Sacramento. Any kind of building on spec is a bet on the future, and after the Great Recession and the numerous busted commercial projects it caused, building on spec is seen as riskier than it was a decade ago. But if it pencils out, investors are starting to dive back in.
Housing finds its place: Compared to 2013, housing had a tougher year. Single-family home sales fluctuated between encouraging and disappointing. But new-home sales began to show strength later in the year. Homes near the urban core of Sacramento sold without difficulty. And multifamily, whether measured by occupancy rates or sales price, was on fire everywhere from midtown to Roseville. All this suggests housing that’s scratching the right itch in the market isn’t going to have any problems, and more builders can get a piece of the action as the economic recovery continues.

The positive news is that nearly every forecast for next year suggests progress. And when there’s good news in a number of different areas and sectors over the course of a whole year, it suggests underlying and lasting strength in the years ahead.

After Christmas Sales 2014: Get Ready for the Year’s Best Deals on Apparel


Source: ~ Author: Louis Ramirez

The days leading up to Christmas are among the busiest shopping days of the year. However, not all December sales end with the holidays. If you can wait, post-Christmas sales are just as popular and many times provide deeper discounts than pre-Christmas sales.

This year we expect after-Christmas sales to start earlier than ever, and if you thought Black Friday sales were particularly good, after-Christmas sales are looking to break a few records of their own.

Counter-intuitively, After-Christmas Sales Start Before Christmas Eve

Just as Black Friday deals have taken over Thanksgiving Day, so too have so-called after-Christmas sales creeped earlier, beginning before Christmas even. (It’s the stores themselves still referring to these sales as “after-Christmas,” not us!) It’s a trend we’ve noticed for several years. In 2012, for instance, sales branded as “after-Christmas” started on December 24, whereas last year after-Christmas sales started on December 23.

Leading the charge last year was Amazon, which debuted its post-Christmas sale on December 23. We predict Amazon will kick things off again this year, especially since the Seattle retailer has areputation for dominating holiday sales in general.

But unlike the hype that surrounds Black Friday, after-Christmas sales traditionally don’t have any lead up. Excluding Micro Center, which last year released a massive Black Friday-like ad highlighting its best after-Christmas deals, most major retailers won’t bother with ad leaks or hype. In other words, you’re not going to see shoppers camping outside any stores on December 23.

Apparel Dominates After-Christmas Deals

Simply put, no item will see as many discounts as apparel. Last year, 45% of after-Christmas sales we posted were clothing related. We saw heavily-discounted items from Gap (including Piperlimeand Banana Republic), 6pm, Express, Macy’s, and New York & Co. These sales were not only the best discounts of the year, but many also included stackable coupons that further reduced pricing.

Banana Republic, for instance, took an extra 50% off apparel that was already discounted by up to 50% off. (That was the best percent-off discount we had seen from the retailer all year.) Likewise,Nike took an extra 25% off clearance items that were already marked down by up to 60% and The Children’s Place slashed an extra 30% off children’s clothes that were already marked down by up to 71%. For big percent-off discounts and stackable coupons, few holidays sales, if any, come close to the kind of deals you’ll see after Christmas.

If you prefer luxury retailers or designer-brand clothes, these too will be on sale post-Christmas.Tory Burch, Brooks Brothers, Cole Haan, Saks, Calvin Klein, and Betsey Johnson were just a few of the luxury brands we saw on sale last December. Unlike mainstream retailers like Gap and 6pm, designer brands traditionally don’t offer stackable coupons. Instead these sales generally consisted of a respectable sitewide discount bundled with free shipping. For instance, Betsey Johnson offered 30% off sitewide, whereas Calvin Klein slashed 25% off sitewide. Meanwhile, Saks took 70% off select designer brands, and Brooks Brothers offered an extra 15% off items that were already discounted by 50% off, the latter being one of the few luxury retailers to offer a stackable discount.

November’s Best Gadget Deals May Resurface

After apparel, consumer electronics see the most discounts post-Christmas, accounting for 12% of all after-Christmas sales. However, these sales are more modest and generally don’t top any of November’s best sales. Nevertheless, 2014 might be different. Last month’s gadget sales were so unprecedented, that there’s a chance we may see a second showing of November’s best deals. For example, the first week of December saw many great HDTV and laptop prices, with a small handful of deals that were cheaper than Black Friday. So if there were any gadgets you missed buying in November, you’ll want to keep a close eye on December sales. Otherwise, some of last year’s best after-Christmas tech deals included 20% off select items at Staples and $25 off orders of $100 or more at TigerDirect.

It’s also worth nothing that the Consumer Electronics Show occurs the second week in January. That’s when tech manufacturers unveil their 2015 lineup, which in turn means retailers will be clearing their shelves of 2014 models in January and February to make way for 2015’s newest gadgets. So there’s a chance you’ll see better gadget prices then.

New Year, New Look

Surprisingly, many beauty products also go on sale post-Christmas. Bath & Body Works takes 20% off items already discounted by 75%, whereas Sephora takes an extra 20% off clearance items marked 40% off. For both merchants, these sales were their best sales of 2013. Likewise, Crabtree & Evelyn saves its best sale of the year for after Christmas taking up to 50% off several of its items.

Lastly, you can expect to see a small number of sales on intimates. Maidenform, Victoria’s Secret, and Fresh Pair traditionally take between 25% to 70% off clearance items.

Just because the holiday rush has ended doesn’t mean the sales have too. The post-Christmas season is proving to be just as good a time for deal hunting as November and early December. Just remember that clothing will deliver the biggest discounts, whereas tech will see more modest sales.


The Weekly Glean: Starbucks Ups Its Game

starbucksSource: ~ Author: Dan Nosowitz

So here’s what’s happening. Starbucks, a pioneering coffee roaster and retailer, has remained wildly popular among all but a small community of vocal coffee snobs.

These snobs have followed the trends of coffee as it moves from the ultra-dark, bitter roasts, often heavily flavored and blended, of the ‘90s, which Starbucks pioneered, into what they would not want me to call the Third Wave of coffee, which favors thinner, lighter, unflavored coffee sourced from a single location. Last week, the company made a play for the holdouts, announcing it will be opening up a shop in Seattle called the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, which will focus on rare beans grown in the “remote highlands in Africa, Latin America and Asia” and can sell for up to $45 per pound.

Starbucks will be taking the Third Wave coffee trends to an extreme; they’ll have the highest of high-end equipment, but more to our interests, they’ll be taking the “single origin” idea even farther. Their beans will regularly come from what are called “microlots” — tiny farms, often independently run, that will provide coffee not to be mixed with any other bean. The theory goes that you can more precisely taste the beans’ terroir when all the coffee comes from one small place. That also often leads to more money for the farmers, which can theoretically provide more ethical worker conditions. That’s good, at least.

The Awl’s Matt Buchanan, a dear friend and the most irritating coffee snob I know, calls Starbucks Reserve “something out of a Stumptown fiend’s wettest dreams.” But really, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, which I will only ever refer to by its full and legal name, is only the latest in a long line of attempts by Starbucks to find more customers when it sort of seems like they’ve gotten them all. See, for example, the Stealth Starbucks, which are Starbucks stores that are disguised to make them seem as if they were independent local shops. Starbucks has said that these are merely spaces for experimentation, but the truth is that Starbucks is approaching market saturation, so they have to go after the coffee drinkers who refuse to go to Starbucks, and damn the fact that Starbucks has to be the un-Starbucks in order to snag them.

Google grows with $1.6 billion in Silicon Valley property deals

Source: ~ Hui-yong Yu and Brian Womack

google logoGoogle is accelerating a real estate deal spree, spending $585 million to buy more than half of a Silicon Valley office park and agreeing to lease an entire campus in development to make space for its growing workforce.

The owner of the world’s largest search engine bought six office buildings at Pacific Shores Center in Redwood City rom Starwood Capital Group and Blackstone Group. It also plans to occupy all of Moffett Place, a six-tower development on 55 acres in Sunnyvale, according to Meghan Casserly, a Google spokeswoman.

Google, based in Mountain View, has spent billions on property leases and purchases as it expands hiring and makes acquisitions. The company said in its quarterly report filed Thursday that it signed office leases for a total commitment of about $1 billion through 2028 and bought land and buildings for $585 million, without disclosing details.

“I just can’t point to another major technology company that’s taken down so much real estate in a relatively short period of time,” said Mark Kuiper, senior vice president with Colliers International in San Jose. “Google is a huge employer and they’re putting their stake in the ground and saying Silicon Valley is our home base.

The company had 55,030 full-time employees as of Sept. 30, up almost 19 percent from a year earlier, the filing shows.

Outside of Silicon Valley, Google’s major real estate purchases include New York’s 111 Eighth Ave., a former industrial warehouse that takes up an entire block in the Chelsea neighborhood, which it acquired for $1.8 billion in 2010. In July, the company bought a San Francisco office building and agreed to lease space at a nearby tower.