(Bloomberg) — California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced guidelines for local governments weighing real estate development proposals to protect against the growing hazard of wildfires, telling municipalities his suggestions could help them avoid costly litigation and save lives.
At a news conference on Monday, Bonta outlined best practices and mitigation measures to help municipalities shape projects while taking into account wildfire ignition and emergency access and evacuation to protect residents and the environment.
Bonta described the guidance as a “developmental blueprint” and a “proactive tool” that should be used to help municipalities and developers mitigate fire risk and avoid lawsuits.
The Attorney General encouraged local governments to take the guidance “to heart, not only to prevent potential litigation from my office or others and save taxpayer dollars,” but to save lives, adding that since 2010, wildfires have killed almost 150 people.
“I fear this number can creep exponentially higher as the climate crisis worsens if we continue to develop our lands like it’s business as usual,” he said. “The climate crisis is here, we must adapt to that.”
Bonta recited a list of recent fires that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres, including Paradise, Grizzly Flats, and the Cedar, Witch and Harris fires. Since 2005 wildfires have destroyed 97,000 structures, he noted, adding that eight of the 10 largest wildfires in California history have occurred in the past 10 years, making them the “new normal” for the state.
Read More: PG&E Sued for Starting California’s Largest Wildfire of 2022
Among his specific recommendations, Bonta urged local governments to increase housing density and “consolidate project design.” New development should consider the fire history of the area, topography and wind patterns, he said. It should avoid steep slopes and rugged terrain to prevent the rapid spread of fires. It should also weigh proximity to existing roads to increase accessibility for firefighters.
Bonta also urged local governments to require developers to upgrade building materials and techniques to increase construction resistance to heat, flames and embers.
(Updates with more details on guidance)
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
November Capital Region Commercial Real Estate Report – Business Examiner
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A nearly $890 million replacement project for Duncan’s Cowichan District Hospital has taken a major step forward as land clearing at the Bell McKinnon Road site begins.
Initially scheduled for 2021, the North Cowichan property near the intersection of Herd Road and the Trans Canada Highway is being cleared this month ahead of a construction start planned for 2023, pushing the hospital’s completion target to 2027 after some three and-a-half years of building.
A landmark condominium project coming soon to Esquimalt’s Gorge Waterway is now selling one, two and three-bedroom residences with ‘junior’ floorplan options.
Central Block, from Victoria-based developer Abstract Developments, is comprised of 99 suites at pricing from $339,900. Nearly 40 per cent of Central Block’s inventory is priced below $500,000 and over 80 per cent of homes are available from under $750,000.
Slated to begin construction next March, the six-storey Central Block will rise in the former location of the Gorge Pointe Pub opposite Gorge Park’s Tillicum Road entrance, offering unimpeded views of the picturesque Gorge Waterway from many homes, and park, city and urban canopy views from most units.
BC Housing has started work on the last of six facilities announced in the spring of 2021 to house individuals in the Capital Region experiencing homelessness or who may be at-risk of homelessness.
As construction winds down on five buildings in Victoria, Saanich and Central Saanich, crews have begun preliminary work on a 56-unit complex at 953-959 Balmoral Road in Victoria’s North Park neighbourhood.
The five-storey low-rise will be operated by the Cool Aid Society as permanent housing with support services, and is scheduled for occupancy in 2023.
Collectively, the six builds will contribute nearly 300 permanent supportive homes as part of a provincial plan to address homelessness in the Capital through the creation of 24/7-managed housing solutions.
A nearly 100-unit rental proposal is in motion from telecommunications giant TELUS and Victoria-based Aryze Developments for several parcels at Feltham Road and Tyndall Avenue in Gordon Head.
Planned for 1805-1811 Feltham Road, TELUS and partner Aryze are working to redevelop a TELUS network facility into TELUS Living, a five-storey, purpose-built rental project that would provide high density housing to Gordon Head in addition to network infrastructure for the telecom.
Although the proposed building height and density are a departure from the immediate area’s built form, a document drafted by Aryze’s Director of Development, Chris Quigley, for the District of Saanich and the local community describes the effort as taking “an existing public utility site and [transforming] it into a much-needed rental housing development while also continuing to deliver critical telecommunications infrastructure.”
A 488-unit rental project envisioned for the 100-block of Gorge Road East in the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood could also include a significant public realm improvement along the Gorge Waterway.
Proposed for 129-135 Gorge Road East, property owner Belmont Properties and partner Intracorp Projects have unveiled plans for a five-building redevelopment of the Oxford Motel (turned rental complex) and three rental blocks known as the Gordreau Apartments. The existing density totals 200-units, and is described by the proponents as nearing its end-of-life.
Belmont and Intracorp, along with architectural firm IBI Group, have designed a two-phase masterplan that will deliver 488 new residential units on the land, padding the City of Victoria’s rental housing stock by 288 net rental homes.
Victoria-based Alpha Project Developments has proposed its latest residential investment in the James Bay neighbourhood’s legislative precinct.
Planned as a seven-storey complex at 475 Kingston Street, the lowrise will include approximately 60 up-market condominium suites in one, two and three-bedroom configurations, along with ground oriented, family-sized layouts.
The majority of the property is presently a surface parking lot, as is an expansive province-owned parcel immediately to the east known as the ‘Q-Lot,’ currently planned as future office space for government ministries.
A boutique pre-sale comprised of seven three-bedroom plus-den townhomes is coming soon to Victoria’s Fairfield neighbourhood.
Known as Seven by Aryze, the offering represents an evolution in design from a firm known for its innovative, market-leading infill projects, at a time when ‘missing middle’ housing is top of mind among urban homebuyers.
Situated at 931 McClure Street – a quaint no-through lane between Vancouver and Quadra streets – Seven’s location is within short walking distance to the heart of downtown Victoria, Cook Street Village, and the Dallas Road waterfront.
Mike Kozakowski is with Citified Media and can be reached at mailto:email@example.com
Is now the right time for your business to buy real estate? – BNN Bloomberg
For small businesses hoping to establish or expand their brick-and-mortar presence, it may seem like a bad time to sink cash into a commercial property purchase.
Amid predictions of an upcoming recession, the U.S. Federal Reserve increased the federal funds rate for the sixth time in 2022, citing inflation risks and global conflict. Inevitably, this will make loans more expensive for borrowers.
In reality, though, the perfect time to buy commercial real estate doesn’t exist. And when you consider the bigger picture, not all signs point to doomsday.
“There are still really amazing opportunities out there, but I think it really requires small-business owners to think about what their goals and their plans are,” says Alyssa Dangler, a commercial real estate attorney and president-elect of Commercial Real Estate Women Network.
Here’s what small-business owners should consider when deciding whether to purchase commercial real estate.
COST OF BORROWING
While higher interest rates might not make or break a deal, they could push business owners to cut the size of their down payments or reduce spending elsewhere to accommodate larger monthly payments. Small-business owners waiting for interest rates to fall might be in a holding pattern for longer than they expected, though. According to the Federal Reserve, future fed rate hikes are likely.
However, today’s interest rates don’t seem as astronomical when you look at rates throughout history, Dangler says. For instance, the annual average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 8.39 per cent in 1992 and 16.04 per cent in 1982. This year’s average currently stands at 5.08 per cent.
Some entrepreneurs, like Elaina Paige Thomas, owner of Next Paige Talent Management and Production, are choosing to move forward despite rising rates.
“It didn’t scare me because I know that we can always refinance down the road,” Thomas says. “It’s still going toward ownership and equity, so for me, that was always the goal.”
Buying commercial property becomes more complicated if construction loans are involved. Interest rates for this type of financing are typically variable, leaving plenty of opportunity for rates to climb over the duration of the project.
To mitigate the risk of a business being unable to afford costlier future payments, Dangler explains, lenders may ask borrowers to purchase an interest rate cap. While this safety net ensures their rate won’t exceed a set limit, it’s also an additional cost.
Understand and prepare for these added costs before moving forward with a real estate deal. If you’re concerned about stretching your finances too thin, consider looking at buildings that don’t require major renovations, or scale back the scope of the project to only the essentials.
YOUR BUSINESS’S GROWTH STAGE
Typically, more mature businesses have capital and a strong understanding of their growth trajectory. These factors, plus time in business and more established credit, make for a more appealing loan application — and likely a better interest rate.
On the other hand, startup businesses may want to consider leasing before buying right away, suggests Max Grover, president-elect of Commercial Alliance of Realtors West Michigan. As opposed to more established businesses, he says, some startups might see better returns putting their cash toward inventory, equipment, hiring or marketing. Additionally, leasing gives them more flexibility to move locations if they grow.
Connecting with a commercial real estate agent or broker who specializes in a particular type of property can help buyers weigh their options.
“It helps to have your own representation so that your interests are pursued,” says Barbi Reuter, CEO, chairman and designated broker of Cushman & Wakefield ‘ PICOR, a commercial real estate firm. “You want to have the expertise to move at the right time.”
In particular, they can help small-business owners narrow down their options, compare buy-versus-lease situations, run calculations and navigate market changes, she adds. They can also look into commercial zoning laws that determine which types of businesses can occupy the property and how it can be used.
Factor in the market conditions for your particular industry and geographic region before committing to a space. Property demand may vary from sector to sector, which dictates how much competition you’ll face and, subsequently, how much negotiating power you’ll have.
Depending on your business type, Reuter suggests finding out where your customer base, suppliers or workforce are located, too.
“You really have to be super focused on what the dynamics are in your … geographic market and the market in which you sell or trade or operate your business,” Reuter says.
Data on where people are moving to and from, as well as industry reports on how other businesses in your sector are faring, can provide more insight.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Hillary Crawford is a writer at NerdWallet.
Blackstone To Limit Withdrawals From $125 Billion Real Estate Fund
Blackstone will limit investor withdrawals from its $125 billion real estate investment fund following a spike in redemption requests, according to the New York-based firm, following an announcement that it will sell its stake in two Las Vegas properties.
Only 0.3% of the fund’s net assets will be available for redemption in December, according to a notice sent to investors Thursday, following a surge in requests in November and October.
In October, Blackstone received $1.8 billion in redemption requests—2.7% of the net asset value—and has already received requests in November and December exceeding its quarterly limit, according to the Financial Times.
Only 43% of redemption requests from investors were fulfilled in November, totaling $1.3 billion in assets.
Following the announcement, shares at the company fell by as much as 10%.
Blackstone will receive $1.27 billion in cash—generating about $730 million for shareholders—from Vici Properties Inc. for its 49.9% stake in the MGM Grand Las Vegas and the Mandalay Bay, two properties valued at $5.5 billion total, according to a release Thursday.
“Our business is built on performance, not fund flows, and performance is rock solid,” a Blackstone spokesperson told the Financial Times, adding the company will continue to focus on rental housing opportunities.
$69 billion. That’s the estimated value of Blackstone’s assets across logistics facilities, apartment buildings, casinos and medical office parks. Forbes estimates the real estate firm totaling $15.5 billion in revenue through 2022.
The Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust rose in the real estate industry with its inception in 2017, according to Bloomberg, as it quickly acquired apartments, suburban homes and dorms during a period of low interest rates. Investors have become increasingly more cautious about accumulating money in assets that are hard to trade and value while Blackstone continues to place more limits on access to its funding. Because of the two Las Vegas property sales, in addition to the earlier $5.6 billion sale of The Cosmopolitan, the firm now has access to more liquid assets, potentially allowing it to redeem more requests in the near future.
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