Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Border City McAllen, TX Prospers Despite Mexico Violence

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rio South Texas Cities Making Top Rank

Cities in the Rio South Texas Region making top spots across multiple national lists.

SOURCE Rio South Texas Economic Council

EDINBURG, TexasFeb. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Recent national lists regarding job growth, safety and cost of living, among others, have ranked cities in the Rio South Texas region among the top, proving this growing region has much to offer those wishing to invest and relocate here.
Farmers Insurance Group's Most Secure U.S. Places to Live for 2010 ranked the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA 14th on their list for Large Metropolitan areas. This ranking included factors such as: crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, foreclosures, terrorist threats and job loss numbers.
The 2010 ACCRA Cost of Living Index ranked Harlingen, Texas as the city with the lowest cost of living in the nation, while another Rio South Texas city, McAllen, ranked 3rd. The Cost of Living Index is an annual list based on prices for items including housing, utilities, grocery products, transportation, and healthcare. Rio South Texas cities have consistently ranked among the top on this list for multiple years.
Multiple reports have ranked the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA high among metropolitan areas for job growth. Based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, Business First ranked the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA 24th on their list of top 100 Metropolitan Areas in Job growth from 2009 to 2010. Also, the American metro-area economic stability report, released by the Brookings Institution, states the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA is among the 100 largest metropolitan areas that are on the road to recovery, showing the McAllen metro area to have had three consecutive quarters of job growth through 2009 and the beginning of 2010.
"As you can see by these rankings," said Miki McCarthy, RSTEC chair of the Rio South Texas Economic Council and executive director of San Juan Economic Development Corporation, the Rio South Texas region has earned top recognition as the premier place for business expansions, relocations and job creation for advanced manufacturing and new emerging technologies."
The Rio South Texas region is the largest U.S./Mexico border region in America, the third largest market in Texas, and the 23rd largest market in the U.S. The Rio South Texas region encompasses two countries, one region with many choices. For more information about the Rio South Texas region, please visit or call toll free at 1-888-RSTEC01.
Media Contact:
Raudel Garza
1-888-RSTEC01 (888-778-3201)
Direct Line: 956-607-1197

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mike Blum of NAI RGV Selected to NAI Global's 2011 Executive Committee

NAI Global Names 2011 Executive Committee

By Debra Hazel

PRINCETON, NJ-National real estate services network NAI Global has named new Executive Committee leadership for its NAI Members’ Leadership Board, which is comprised of representatives of NAI member firms and interacts with NAI Global to provide input and develop key strategic initiatives.
Heading the committee are: Kevin Fitzgerald, president of NAI Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, FL, who was named chairman of the Members’ Leadership Board; vice chair Maribel Koella, who is also principal of NAI Knoxville in Knoxville, TN; and Michael Flynn, secretary of the Members’ Leadership Board, and also executive vice president of NAI Hiffman in Chicago.
Joining the Leadership Board are: Bob Brehmer of NAI Daus (Cleveland, OH); Carlos Robles of NAI Costa Rica (San Jose, Costa Rica); Jason Richards of NAI Earle Furman (Greenville, SC); Jimmy Barnes of NAI Carolantic Realty (Raleigh, NC); Mike Blum of NAI Rio Grande Valley (McAllen, TX); and Randy Young of NAI Norris, Beggs & Simpson (Portland, OR).
“The NAI Members’ Leadership Board drives strategy and new initiatives that promote collaboration and alignment across the network,” Jeffrey M. Finn, NAI Global president and CEO, said in a statement. “The leadership provided by this experienced group is invaluable in building a seamless global service delivery system that supports the growing and changing needs of our corporate, institutional and entrepreneurial clients around the world.”

January 2011 Global Economic Outlook Web Conference Still Available OnDemand!

Moving Beyond a Disastrous Decade

Where do we stand with the global economic recovery? Will the jobs sector improve in 2011? How will recent elections impact the market? Where will commercial vacancies go? Listen to the January 2011 Global Economic Outlook web conference OnDemand. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pharr wins big during December, sales tax figures show

Holiday shoppers spent more in Mission, Edinburg and Pharr during December 2010 than they did during December 2009, with each city notching a double-digit increase in sales tax revenue.
The season wasn’t as kind to McAllen, the region’s retail hub, which watched sales tax revenue fall 2.43 percent, according to data released Wednesday by Texas’ Comptroller of Public Accounts. Still, Hidalgo County’s most populous city will receive $6.97 million Friday, more than the other three cities combined.
“It's a big number, but in relative terms McAllen isn't exactly going to be begging for food stamps tomorrow,” said Mike Blum, partner and managing broker at NAI Rio Grande Valley, a commercial real estate brokerage. The 2.43 percent decline represents about $174,000.
Retailers collect sales tax — paid on most retail sales, rentals, leases and taxable services — each month and send it to the Comptroller, which allocates the money to cities two months later. On Friday, cities will receive their February allocation, which represents December sales.
Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, which opened a Pharr location off Expressway 83 in September, likely accounts for much of the city’s 16.47 percent increase, Blum said. The boost pushed Pharr’s February sales tax allocation above $1 million for the first time since May 2009.
For smaller cities such as Pharr and Mission, a single business can dramatically ...
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mexican project likely to boost local produce imports

PHARR — Danny Burton expected to make the same profit from the truckload of cucumbers and eggplants he was carrying to a Shelbyville, Ind., grocer as he would have pulled in 15 years ago.
Burton has made thousands of similar trips delivering produce in his 36 years as an independent truck driver, a career where he’s learned to be frugal in the face of escalating operating costs. Even on the hottest summer nights, Burton never sleeps with the air conditioner on in his cab, and he’ll carry cheap freight at cost if it gets him to a destination where he can find a more lucrative rate.
"We have to watch every nickel, dime and penny. You’ve got to cut corners or you don’t make it," the Lynchburg, Va., resident said last month at a Pharr distribution warehouse as he waited for the load of fresh produce that would pay him $1.67 per mile. "That’s why I say if they’ve got to build roads to get it in here quicker, build the roads."
Otherwise, the produce — and the profits — could be rotten.
Industry experts say a massive road construction project underway in Mexico could be a boon for the Valley as the highway directly connects fertile farmland in western Mexico to population centers in the northeast United States. Already a logistics center for a variety of Mexican imports, the Valley has seen four cold storage warehouses recently expand or open with the latest — a 227,000-square-foot distribution center in the first phase of an 87-acre Edinburg produce park — expected to come online by December.
Savvy investors who built the warehouses anticipate the Valley will become ...
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Friday, February 4, 2011

J.C. Penney launches new big-and-tall chain, wants 150 stores by 2013

J.C. Penney ‘s Growth Brands Division announced plans to launch a new retail concept catering to the men’s big & tall customer. To be called The Foundry Big & Tall Supply Co., the chain will carry branded apparel and accessories as well as its own line of upscale merchandise.
The Foundry Big & Tall Supply Co. plans to ... Click here to read more

Compiled by the staff of Shopping Centers Today. 

Multifamily Investors Forecast to Return to Small Markets

Posted February 4th 2011

Fueled by competition among institutional investors, pricing for core multifamily assets surpassed property fundamentals in 2010, according to the Marcus & Millichap 2011 National Apartment Report. Strong demand, rising rents, and improving occupancies are expected to continue to support pricing this year, which may spur more sales of class B properties and greater activity among private and opportunistic investors in search of stronger yields in secondary and tertiary markets. The effects of yield compression and a limited inventory of top-tier assets will become clearer as the year progresses, the report notes.
Secondary and tertiary market capitalization rates were 100 basis points and 200 basis points higher, respectively, than primary market cap rates in 4Q10. Unfinished multifamily projects also are expected to receive attention from investors this year thanks to a lack of new construction and a positive demand-side outlook.
Overall, the outlook for multifamily investment this year is strong. Though still well short of peak levels, transaction volume is expected to build on last year’s momentum, which culminated in approximately $40 billion in sales, a 65 percent increase from the market low in 2009. Approximately 80 percent of these transactions were valued at $10 million or less, indicating healthy activity among private buyers, but real estate investment trusts and institutional investors will increase their share of transactions this year.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

U.S. Border Cities See Profits in Bridges to Mexico

Forget the border wall. Leaders see economic development opportunities in opening and updating international bridges.

City leaders here hope that will soon change, thanks to the new multimillion dollar, eight-lane Alliance International Bridge across the Rio Grande, which opened in December. If the bridge is as popular as city leaders anticipate, it could transform Donna into an industrial center, bringing much-needed jobs and money along the way. For Donna -- whose leaders initially began discussing a bridge 50 years ago -- the linkage across the water to Rio Bravo, Mexico, could be a game changer. Officials envision Donna becoming a hub for warehousing and shipping businesses servicing companies that transport goods north across the border.

Those hopes are based largely on a proposal by Rhodes Enterprises, a company that plans to invest, through the Alliance River Crossing Project, more than $950 million to develop 900 acres of land surrounding the bridge. Ernesto Silva, a consultant hired by the city, says the development could nearly triple the city’s tax base. Meanwhile, Ken DeJarnett, director of development at Rhodes Enterprises, says the project could boost Donna's annual sales tax revenue to $36 million annually -- it's currently around $1.5 million -- and create 7,000 new jobs. That's nearly the number of working age adults currently living in the city.

If that happens, the fortunes of Donna, whose poverty rate is 40 percent, could be forever changed. "It would be a whole new town," says Silva, a former assistant city manager of nearby Pharr, Texas, which has an international bridge of its own. "These bridges are economic engines."

At a time when politicians in Washington and state capitals are hotly debating the topic of immigration, and the federal government has literally built walls between the U.S. and Mexico, leaders in border cities and counties are increasingly making it easier to enter the country. By becoming host to a land port linking the U.S. and Mexico, a locality hopes to create a valuable hub for businesses that facilitate the international transport of goods -- and in the process yield revenue from tolls and taxes on businesses, property and sales.

The gamble is risky. Although federal and state money paid for much of the project, Donna is still on the hook for about $28 million. And the bridge, which opened with a ceremony that included Mexican President Felipe Calderón, is coming on line when fewer people are making the trip between the two countries, amid fears of drug cartel violence. Commercial traffic -- a prerequisite of any industrial development -- is not yet allowed on the bridge, because U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not yet committed to staff commercial inspection stations.

Still, despite the obstacles, it's a chance Donna is willing to take, says DeJarnett. "You’ve got to risk a little to gain a lot."

Planning New and Expanded Border Crossings

When the Anzalduas International Bridge near McAllen, Texas, opened ...

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U.S. Border Cities See Profits in Bridges to Mexico

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

U.S. CRE Lending Conditions Continue to Normalize


The Federal Reserve Board's Senior Loan Officiers Survey of Bank Lending Practices taken in January continued to show improving conditions in commercial real estate lending conditions.  The summary of the survey reported:    
  • "Domestic respondents reported no net change in standards on CRE loans in the fourth quarter, though a few foreign institutions reported having tightened standards. Roughly 20 percent of banks, on net, indicated that they had reduced the sizes of lines of credit for commercial construction, about the same as in the previous survey. About 10 percent of domestic banks, on net, reported increased demand for CRE loans, the strongest reading since early 2006. Foreign banks also reported that demand had strengthened, on net.
  • In response to a special question that has been repeated on an annual basis since 2001, domestic banks indicated that they had tightened some terms on CRE loans over 2010. However, the tightening was less widespread than that reported in 2009, and almost no banks reported having tightened terms considerably. About 40 percent of domestic banks, on net, reported having tightened loan-to-value ratios, and moderately smaller fractions tightened debt service coverage ratios and maximum loan sizes. Spreads, maximum maturities, and requirements for takeout financing were reportedly little changed on net. Moderate net fractions of foreign banks indicated that they had eased some terms, including maximum loan sizes, spreads, and requirements on debt-service coverage ratios."
The chart below shows the trends in the share of lending officer respondents indicating that their institution was tightening its CRE standards.  In January, the percentage was 0.0 percent--which shows a normalization after a five-year tightening cycle. The survey also reported that CRE demand for loans strengthened in January to its highest point since the fourth quarter of 2005.