Posts Tagged ‘London’

London Is the World’s Most Expensive City to Park a Car

Monday, August 30th, 2010

 London is the most expensive city to park a car.  London remains the most expensive place to park a car, according to the 2010 Global Parking Rate Survey by Colliers International.   The City and West End scored number one and two in terms of monthly parking rates with The City topping out at $933 USD per month (£643), followed by the West End at $874 USD (£602).  Hong Kong came in third at $745 USD per month ($5,800 HKD).  Two Australian cities again made the top 10 list:  Sydney ranked number six and Perth number seven.

The highest daily parking costs were found in European cities, with Oslo occupying the number two spot at $54.52 (352.00 NOK).  Amsterdam, Vienna, Athens and Copenhagen all made the top 10 list.  In the 2010 survey, Abu Dhabi won the dubious honor as the world’s most expense place to park for the day at $55 USD.  The cheapest city to park is Chennai, India – a bargain at 96 cents for the day.

London Supermarket Grows Its Own Produce on Roof

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Food from the Sky is London supermarket’s green roof fruit and vegetable garden.  A North London supermarket is growing organic fruits and vegetables in a rooftop garden tended by 20 volunteers aged from three to their 60s.  Thornton’s Budgens calls its project Food from the Sky. The nonprofit venture is a collaboration between Thornton’s Budgens, The Positive Earth Project (a local social enterprise) and the Crouch End community.  All proceeds are reinvested in the project, which is designed to inspire the community on the possibilities for urban food growing and reduce the store’s carbon footprint.  Produce from the 4,844 SF farm will be sold in the shop below.

Andrew Thornton, who owns the store, said “It’s a farm on top of a supermarket.  We as a store are very heavily involved in our community and we are very much behind our local food and this is as local as you can get.  We are hoping that people will take the idea forward and grow their own food in their gardens and allotments.”  According to Azul-Valerie Thorne of the Positive Earth Project, the roof garden has an extremely low carbon footprint since most of the components – such as composters and planters – were donated.  “There is a lot of produce waste (in the shop) that we are bringing up to the roof and we are transforming this into compost.  We are planning to collect rainwater to water our plants,” she said.

London’s Strata Tower Design Incorporates Wind Turbines

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Strata Tower in London incorporates wind turbines to generate some of the building’s own energy.  A 43-story residential tower in south London’s Elephant & Castle neighborhood will receive eight percent of its power from three wind turbines  installed at the top of the structure.  The Strata Tower – nicknamed the Electric Razor – is being developed by Brookfield Europe and eventually will be home to 1,000 residents.

The Strata is a £13 million milestone in the £1.5 billion project to revitalize the Elephant and Castle area.  The Strata’s 408 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments range from £230,000 to £2.5 million, with the first residents expected to move in this summer.  As well as generating an estimated 50MWh annually, the turbines will earn approximately £16,000-£17,000 per year through the British government’s new feed-in-tariff, a payment per kilowatt-hour for electricity generated by a renewable resource.

Each turbine has 15 blades with a 9m-diameter rotor plane.  The wind turbines – which will meet energy demand for 33 two-bedroom apartments – were chosen because they had the best potential, given the building’s height and shape.  Although other buildings have wind turbines mounted on their roofs, the Strata Tower is the first to incorporate them into the original design.

Investors Are Choosing London

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

London beats Washington, D.C., as preferred destination for commercial real estate investment.London has overtaken Washington, D.C., as the preferred city for commercial real estate investment,  primarily because investors believe that prices have bottomed out and the time to get into that market is now. The British capital has overtaken the previous favorites of Washington, D.C., and New York, according to a survey conducted by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE).

“London currently offers investors the advantage of a ‘re-priced’ market,” says James Fetgatter, AFIRE’s CEO.  “The re-pricing began sooner than it did in other cities.”  London’s score is 31 points higher than the perennial favorite Washington, D.C., and 40 points ahead of New York City.  A year ago, London occupied second place, ranking four points behind Washington.  The survey of the association’s approximately 200 members was taken in the fourth quarter of 2009 and represents ownership of more than $842 billion of commercial real estate.  Of that, $304 billion is invested in the United States.

London, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, has rebounded with investment rising 56 percent from the first to the second half of 2009.  Property values rose 2.4 percent in November, the largest monthly increase in 15 years.  Savills, the real estate advisory firm, is predicting London will eclipse New York as the fastest growing global financial center.

Despite London’s success, the United States is still preferred as the “most stable and secure real estate investment environment,” according to 44 percent of survey respondents.  This is the first time the United States ranked below 50 percent in the survey.  It ranked 53 percent in 2008 and 57 percent in 2007.  Germany occupies second place with 21 percent.  In terms of price appreciation, the United States ranks first, followed by the United Kingdom and China.

The preferred property for investment is multifamily residential, followed by office, industrial, retail and hotel.

Bad Debt? Sell It on the Stock Market

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

To purge their balance sheets of debt and avoid future writedowns, more and more U.K. banks are considering plans to transfer commercial property loans into REITs. Such strategies entail using REITs as publicly traded “exit vehicles” to limit the losses they and their borrowers face.

uk-stock-market The British Property Federation is currently pushing the idea to the government as a solution for state-owned banks saddled with real estate loans.  Ian Marcus, head of real estate at Credit Suisse Group AG, remarks, “It’s obviously being considered by all relevant parties because the sector needs to recapitalize and that is one methodology of doing so.”

U.K. banks are currently weighed down with 227 billion pounds (US$371 billion) of loans against retail properties, office buildings and warehouses after funding the real estate boom that ended in 2007, reports a De Montfort University study.  According to BNP Paribas, approximately 100 billion pounds of the loans are due to mature in the next three years.

The values of the commercial properties they are secured against have declined by an average 44 percent from their peak two years ago, calculates London-based Investment Property Databank, Ltd.  Peter Cosmetatos, the British Property Federation’s finance director, concludes, “Allowing mortgage REITs would seem a natural and sensible way for REITs to help banks reduce their exposure to real estate and recapitalize the sector.”

It’s an interesting proposition and creates a new play – allowing opportunity players to get undervalued, under-performing loans at the share level.

UK Debt Repayment Dates

UK Debt Repayment Dates

Fed Chairman Bernanke Takes Steps to Restart the Economy

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Ben Bernanke has spoken.  The Fed chairman and the Federal Reserve moved recently to stimulate the economy when the policy-making committee cut the federal funds rate – the rate at which banks lend to each other – to just one percent.  This represents a half percentage point cut from the previous 1.5 percent rate.  By contrast, during the summer of 2007, this rate was 5.25 percent.

There is more good news.  Treasury rates have stabilized.  The value of the dollar and the yen are soaring.  The price of oil has fallen to less than $70 a barrel.  The New York Stock Exchange rose nearly 900 points in a single day, following the lead of markets ranging from Tokyo to Hong Kong to London.  The inflation rate is just 4.9 percent.  Unemployment is 5.7 percent – a lower proportion than was seen during previous recessions of recent decades.

And, according to NAI Global’s recent Capital Markets Update, the doomsayers who describe the current situation as “the worst economic situation ever” either are very young or have short memories.  The seemingly endless stagflation of 1973 – 1981 was far worse; so was the collapse of the savings-and-loan industry from 1989 – 1993.  The dot.com failure and September 11 wiped out more wealth when compared with the GDP.

Commercial real estate is in far better shape than the early 1990s, thanks to lower vacancy rates, higher rents and shorter construction pipelines.  Delinquency rates are virtually non-existent, though that situation could easily change.  Published in September of 2008, NAI Global’s report projects that recovery will occur within nine to 15 months.

Foreign Investors Like Luxury

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

You know what they say about polls.  Still, a recent one is an interesting temperature reading for the new economy.   Overseas investors in United States real estate prefer retail versus office or industrial space right now, according to a recent issue of Commercial Property News. This is just one conclusion in a survey that examined the influence of the current housing slump on the economy and consumer spending.  Nearly 200 members of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE) revised their favored property rankings from the previous year.  Retail soared to first from fifth place, while hotels fell from second to fourth place  Office space plunged from first place to last. “While foreign investors are aware of the high occupancy and rental-rate increases in the office market, they fear that the credit crunch will cause tenants to lay people off and contract their space needs,” reported Karin Shewer, a principal for New York City-based Real Estate Capital Partners, which advises European investors about American real estate markets.  Shewer says multifamily’s lack of popularity is the result of a growing uneasiness with the United States condominium market.“Another issue with multifamily is that cap rates are very low right now and returns are limited,” Shewer said.  The strong preference for hotels relates to aging baby boomers.  According to Shewer, “A lot of baby boomers will inherit from parents who were conservative savers, and as they move toward retirement, they will have more time to travel, and they will occupy hotels.”  So why retail at the top?  Dan Fasulo, managing director for Real Capital Analytics, Inc., notes that “Retail is a diverse property type with many sub-niches.  What these investors might be referencing is high-end urban luxury retail.  We have seen a boom like never before in high-fashion apparel, jewelry and other upscale specialty stores that have been expanding globally as the worldwide economic expansion has driven up disposable incomes of affluent people around the world.”  The AFIRE survey also found that foreign investors still prefer American real estate to that in other countries.  To illustrate, AFIRE’s members collectively own $700 billion worth of real estate worldwide; $230 billion of that is invested in the United States.Lastly, AFIRE members were asked to rank their favorite cities for investment.  New York City and Washington, D.C., took first and second place.  London, Paris and Shanghai completed the list.