The Real Deal New York

National Cheat Sheet: Trump tax investigation launched, mall vacancies hit 7-year high … & more

By Maya Rajamani | October 05, 2018 08:00AM

Clockwise from top left: New York launches investigation into Trump family finances after bombshell report, senators write letter asking for investigation into real estate money-laundering, shopping malls see highest vacancy rate they’ve seen in seven years, and co-living company’s funding round could make it the best-funded company of its kind in the U.S.

New York launches investigation into Trump family finances after bombshell report
The state of New York plans to investigate President Donald Trump and his family over allegations that they evaded taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, Bloomberg reported. The state’s Department of Taxation and Finance’s probe comes on the heels of a bombshell New York Times report that claimed Trump and his siblings employed a number of elaborate methods to avoid paying taxes on their father’s estate. The investigation also found that Trump received hundreds of millions of dollars from his father’s empire — a revelation that flies in the face of Trump’s “self-made man” campaign trail rhetoric. Trump’s attorney Charles Harder has claimed the Times’ investigation bases its allegations on facts that “are extremely inaccurate.” A spokesman for the Department of Taxation and Finance said the department is “vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.” [TRD]

Shopping malls see highest vacancy rate they’ve seen in seven years
In the third quarter of 2018, shopping malls saw the highest vacancy rates they’ve seen in seven years, the Wall Street Journal reported. Mall vacancies in the second quarter hit 9.1 percent, up from 8.6 percent in the second quarter. That jump could be partially attributed to Sears and Bon-Ton closings, according to the outlet. Average shopping mall rents, meanwhile, were down from $43.36 per square foot in the second quarter to $43.25 per square foot in the third quarter, the first time average rents have slid since 2011. The vacancy rate increasing may seem like a harbinger of doom for malls, but Reis senior economist Barbara Denham told the outlet that the “retail sector is still correcting.” And while lower-end malls have struggled, higher-end malls in wealthier neighborhoods are still doing well, the outlet reported. [TRD]

Senators write letter asking for investigation into real estate money-laundering
A pair of senators want Congress to launch an investigation that will determine how the U.S. can best curtail money laundering in the real estate sector, the Wall Street Journal reported. Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse called for the probe in a letter they sent to the Government Accountability Office. “Residential real estate markets currently have fewer [anti-money-laundering] protections than lending financial institutions, presenting increased risk of access by foreign and domestic criminal organizations,” they said in the letter. The senators want the investigation to assess the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN, and hopes a FinCEN program that aims to crack down on money-laundering in certain areas can be expanded. [TRD]

Co-living company’s funding round could make it the best-funded company of its kind in the U.S.
A co-living company that’s poised to raise more than $50 million in funding could become the best-funded company of its type in the country. Ollie plans to raise the money in a new venture funding round, sources told TRD. The startup founded by brothers Christopher and Andrew Bledsoe is competing with companies like Common and Bungalow, both of which have raised millions of dollars. But the $50 million would propel Ollie — which raised $15 million in a funding round in January — to the top. The company has been mum about the new funding round so far, saying in a statement that its “policy is not to comment on speculation about our fundraising activity.” It recently signed a lease for a new headquarters in Manhattan. [TRD]

MAJOR MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

NYC developer Silverstein Properties launching real estate lending venture
Silverstein Properties is branching out, Bloomberg reported. Silverstein Capital Partners, the company’s real estate lending venture, will dole out loans starting at $25 million for projects ranging from residential to industrial, according to the outlet. Silverstein CEO Marty Burger said the company is partnering with a pension fund and a sovereign wealth fund to finance the venture. “We’re a developer at heart, and we usually do very large projects, and we found that there was just a gap in the financing markets where there were large loans needed for complicated projects,” Burger told the outlet. Silverstein has developed projects including 3 World Trade Center and the Four Seasons Hotel downtown. [TRD]

Waldorf Astoria hotel-condo tower set to rise in downtown Miami
Downtown Miami will soon have its own Waldorf Astoria. New York-based Property Markets Group plans to build a Waldorf hotel-condo tower designed by Sieger Suarez Architects on Biscayne Boulevard, according to Bloomberg. Condo sales in the glass tower won’t launch until the luxury market improves, but when the 1,049-foot tower opens, it will include 140 hotel rooms and around 400 condo units, the outlet reported. This will be the first Waldorf development in Miami. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., which owns Waldorf, has opened Waldorfs in several cities abroad, including Amsterdam and Dubai. PMG bought the site where the hotel-condo will rise for $80 million back in 2014. [TRD]

New York-based firm specializing in retail build-outs opening Irvine office
New York-based construction firm Schimenti Construction is expanding out west. The retail build-out company, which has worked on flagship shops in Times Square, including Fossil, Gap and Old Navy, plans to open an office in Irvine, California — its first office on the West Coast, according to company representatives. Schimenti is currently working on the Dover Street Market in Los Angeles, which has an expected fall opening. The firm’s executive vice president Ray Catlin will head up the new Irvine office. Catlin said his firm isn’t worried about the challenging retail market affecting his business, maintaining that the “demise of retail… is overstated.” [TRD]

Former Chicago Cubs player seeking $1.3M for mansion outside Chicago
David DeJesus is selling his mansion outside of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported. The former Chicago Cubs player and his wife Kim are seeking $1.3 million for the 6,700-square-foot, five-bedroom home in Wheaton, which they bought for $1.1 million in 2011. DeJesus, who played for the Cubs in 2012 and 2013, moved to Los Angeles with his family after he retired from the MLB, but then he got a gig as an analyst for NBC Sports Chicago. He told the Tribune he wanted to be closer to his job. “Having that house [in Wheaton] is great, but it’s still 45 minutes from work,” DeJesus told the outlet, adding that he and his family are “city people.” [TRD]

Dallas-based developer wins former billionaire’s Colorado ranch in an auction
Dallas-based developer Mehrdad Moayedi has purchased former billionaire Sam Wyly’s six-house ranch outside Aspen for around $14 million in an auction — ”a fraction” of the property’s original $60 million asking price, Mansion Global reported. The Aspen property went to auction after Wyly was ordered to pay more than $1 billion for committing tax fraud. It’s the second estate Moayedi has won in an auction in the past two years, according to the outlet. In 2017, he snapped up one of the biggest mansions in Dallas, and is in the process of subdividing it and building nine homes on it. Wyly’s attorney Stewart Thomas told the outlet it was “a shame [the Colorado property] didn’t sell for more.” [TRD]

Canadian company trying to open “robot brothel” in Houston lacks proper permits, city says
A Canadian company that’s trying to open a “robot brothel” in Houston has been hit with a stop-work order because it doesn’t have the right permits, the Houston Chronicle reported. KinkySDollS had said it planned to open a brothel “where human-like dolls are erotically displayed and can be rented to use in private rooms,” the outlet reported. The company will have to obtain a demolition permit and submit plans for the site if it wants to proceed, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office told the outlet. The mayor, however, is opposed to the project, and said the city is trying to determine whether an existing ordinance could either keep the brothel from opening or regulate it. The city is also mulling drafting new ordinances to do so, according to the outlet. [Houston Chronicle]