National Cheat Sheet: Malls put on a show for holiday shoppers, NAR lobbies for protections in tax reform bill & more

National Real Estate News Roundup
Clockwise from top left: Holiday show at the mall, National Association of Realtors president Elizabeth Mendenhall, Brazilian developer Galwan's Miami hotel tower, and Jay Newman of Athens Group and One Beverly Hills.

From TRD New York: Trying to lure back holiday shoppers, malls put on a show
From temporary ice rinks to Santa parades to baking classes, shopping malls are getting creative in their efforts to lure customers back to brick-and-mortar stores this holiday. Malls typically spend $150,000 to $500,000 on holiday decorations, Greg Maloney, chief executive officer of JLL’s retail business in the Americas told the Wall Street Journal. And retailers are looking to spruce up their stores ahead of the shopping season: work orders for fresh paint, new lighting and other fixes were up 8 percent to 10 percent compared to 2016 according to Bill Hayden, CEO of facilities management company FacilitySource. This year, 164 million people nationwide plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, compared to up from 154.4 million at the same time last year, according to the National Retail Federation. [TRD]

Realtor lobby fights to protect homeownership incentives in GOP tax plan
The National Association of Realtors, with allies like the National Home Builders Association, are fighting on Capitol Hill to protect tax incentives like the mortgage interest deduction, which is threatened in Republican tax plans. “It’s the largest grassroots effort we’re trying to focus on that we’ve ever been behind,” NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall said. The recently passed House bill will cap deductions on mortgage interest to $500,000, down from $1 million; eliminate or scale back deductions for state and local taxes; and cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. [TRD]

Existing-home sales fall again in October
For the second-straight month, sales of existing homes in the U.S. fell compared to last year. The National Association of Realtors measured a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.48 million in October — a 0.9 percent drop from the same time a year before. While sales did increase between September and October by 2 percent, the continued lack of housing supply is weighing down the market, as inventory has fallen year-over-year for 29 consecutive months. [TRD]

Fannie, Freddie re-entering Low Income Housing Tax Credit market
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are re-entering the Low Income Housing Tax Credit market, which encourages investment in affordable housing. The federal program gives tax credits to qualified properties, which investors can take advantage of. “Few programs are as mutually beneficial as LIHTC,” said David Brickman, executive vice president and head of Freddie Mac Multifamily. “It incentivizes private investment in affordable housing, delivers much-needed cash equity to owners of affordable properties and, most importantly, encourages the development and preservation of critical affordable housing in underserved areas throughout the country.” [Housing Wire]

How the end of net neutrality could threaten real estate businesses
The Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal “net neutrality” regulations could have a significant impact on real estate companies that rely on web traffic for their businesses. The Trump administration this week announced its plan to reverse the “Open Internet Order,” which prohibits internet providers from blocking or slowing down websites. If an ISP made it more difficult or expensive to access online listings, web-centric companies — from giants like Redfin and Zillow to mom-and-pop brokerages — would struggle. This week, both National Association of Realtors and Redfin released statements voicing strong opposition to the repeal, Inman reported. [Inman]

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Continuum and Lincoln Equities close on NYC megaproject
The controversial Bedford-Union Armory project, which will span 1 million square feet of residential space in Brooklyn, appears to be on its way after Fortress Investment Group gave a $35.4 million dollar loan to Ian Bruce Eichner’s Continuum Company and Joel Bergstein’s Lincoln Equities for the acquisition of the site. The companies plan to develop four buildings with 50 percent affordable housing in exchange for a rezoning that allows for higher density. [TRD]

Former partner looks to buy back into Wanda’s massive LA development
China-based Dalian Wanda Group is selling five of its overseas developments, including the $1.2 billion One Beverly Hills condominium and hotel project. While the company hoped for a single buyer for all of them, developer Athens Group wants to buy back into the Los Angeles property, on which it had been a partner from 2015 until October. Why the arrangement ended in October was not clear, but the Phoenix-based firm issued an enthusiastic statement about coming back onboard. “We’re interested in pursuing Beverly Hills and fulfilling our original development vision,” Jay Newman, chief operating officer at Athens told TRD. [TRD]

Miami hotel tower will be first US project for Brazilian developer
Brazilian developer Galwan is proceeding with the development of a 445-room, 41-story hotel tower in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood. Two Wyndham Hotel Group brands, a 200-room Wyndham Grand and a 245-room Tryp by Wyndham, will occupy the new building, which is slated to open in late 2019. GW Brickell LLC paid $26 million for the development site in 2015. [TRD]

Booming tech scene devours Austin’s office market
The growth of the tech industry is impacting the Austin’s office market more than any other city in the nation, according to a new report from CBRE. “Despite robust inventory growth in Austin, total vacancy has remained at or below 10%, spurring continued rent growth market-wide,” CBRE senior vice president Mark Emerick said, according to Bisnow. Tech sector employment grew by 23 percent in the last two years in Austin, leading to office asking rents rising by 11 percent, CBRE’s “Tech-30” report found. [Bisnow]

Atlanta Civic Center sale opens path for $300M redevelopment
The city of Atlanta closed the long-planned sale of the Atlanta Civic Center, clearing the way for a $300 million redevelopment plan. With the aging arts center now under the control of the Atlanta Housing Authority, a mixed-use, mixed-income development can be built in its place. “This project will represent the largest commitment to affordable housing in the city of Atlanta in more than 15 years,” Mayor Kasim Reed said, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. [AJC]

LA investors pay $190M for D.C.-area hotel, plan mixed-used development
The Key Bridge Marriott, which has overlooked Washington D.C. from Rosslyn, Va. since 1959, could soon be replaced by a major mixed-use development. A joint venture between Oaktree Capital and Woodridge Capital bought the 583-room hotel from Host Hotels & Resorts for $190 million. Current zoning regulations would allow for 630 residential units, 990 hotel rooms or 660,000 square feet of office space on the 5.5-acre site. [Bisnow]