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Coders and web developers are dialing into the hive mind of local coworking spaces

Dan Siddoway turns everywhere he goes into his own office. Laptop in tow, you can often find him typing web code in a booth at Thomas Hammer Coffee or designing a website at an Iron Goat Brewery table. Anywhere that has electrical outlets and a decent internet connection can temporarily transform into a corner cubicle. And if the weather’s nice enough and his computer is charged, Siddoway says he’ll even work in a secluded area of Manito Park.

It’s the sort of solitude Thoreau could never have dreamed of.

–I always bring my computer to the bar now. It’s kind of ridiculous,– Siddoway says. People who’ve had a few too many drinks sometimes disruptively inquire about his work, ignoring the noise-canceling headphones.

–But they’re starting to get used to it,– he says. –I’m not the only one with my computer out anymore.–

This has been the typical work schedule for the 32-year-old Spokane coder and web developer, who abandoned a full-time office job at Rainmaker Creative and now relies on one-off gigs and freelance projects.

It might sound like something of a nomadic existence, hunkering down in whatever location is most convenient at any given moment. But a lot of freelancers are starting to rely on coworking spaces, a more reliable and comfortable environment than your average Starbucks.

Siddoway frequents Level Up, the downtown public library’s free coworking space. He’s also paid for a membership at Fellow Coworking, located on the second floor of the Washington Cracker Co. Building. Spaces like Fellow allow those who rely on the gig economy to experience the advantages of a bustling office environment while still benefiting from the freedom of freelancing.

Started in 2013 by Luke Baumgarten, a co-founder of the arts group Terrain, Fellow currently hosts around 70 regular members, boasting talents ranging from mechanical engineering to IT security, fiction writing to ecotourism.

Baumgarten (a former Inlander staffer) and his Fellow partner Benji Wade, a web developer and former producer at North by Northwest Productions, recently started a small creative firm called Treatment. It’s located in a small office at the back of Fellow, and its staff includes folks who still work as part-time freelancers.

–Treatment was born in Fellow and couldn’t exist, for a lot of reasons, without it,– Baumgarten says. –The gig economy is fueling Treatment because of these super-creative dudes who are choosing to spend a sizable amount of time following their passion.–

Both Baumgarten and Wade say that they’ve seen a noticeable uptick in coders, web designers and other online creatives leaving secure jobs at large agencies to subsist solely on freelance gigs. Wade and two of his Treatment coworkers, game designer Nick Barr and photographer and videographer Tobias Hendrickson, previously worked at North by Northwest together and say they now have more time to focus on passion projects alongside their for-hire gigs.

They’ve also observed that the coworking environment actually encourages impromptu collaboration. Wade points to a recent video project he was working on that was presenting obstacles. He was able to outsource color-correction duties to a videographer who was a regular at Fellow, and they’ve since worked together on several other projects.

–That whole gig-economy thing happens a lot here,– Wade says. –There are a lot of things at Treatment that aren’t within the interests we have, so we’ll refer it out to somebody else.–

Siddoway says his own well-being has improved since he’s started creating his own work schedule.

He works for a few hours in the morning — he’s currently designing a website for a Danish beer company and developing software for a startup — and takes a break in the afternoon to either work out at the YMCA or chip away at some online courses he’s enrolled in. He’ll pick up work again in the late afternoon or early evening, sometimes over dinner or a beer.

This is still, he admits, an unorthodox way of making a living, especially in a country that still clings to the concept of a 40-hour workweek.

–But I think there are real benefits to this kind of freedom,– he says. –I think people are starting to value the flexibility of it.–

Chinese Overseas Real Estate Investment Hits New Record of $33 billion in 2016

Hotel and industrial sectors saw biggest rise in investment

According to the latest JLL’s Global Capital Flows data, China has hit a record of $33 billion in overseas commercial and residential property investment in 2016, an increase of nearly 53 percent year-on-year.
While investment in land, offices and hotels account for 90 percent of all Chinese outbound capital in the last three years, the hotel and industrial sectors showed the largest increase in 2016 due to significant transactions in the U.S. in the form of portfolio sales and Chinese appetite for industrial parks.
–Hotel activity last year was boosted by the purchase of Strategic Hotels and Resorts by Anbang Insurance for over $6 billion,– says David Green-Morgan, JLL’s Global Capital Markets Research Director. –China Life Insurance has secured assets across the hotel and office sectors with portfolio purchases from the Starwood Capital Group and an office tower in Manhattan; sovereign wealth fund Chinese Investment Corporation has been active in the office sector in New York as well.–
Land acquisitions by Chinese investors made a comeback last year, with a rise of 44 percent following significant transactions in Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia.
–We do believe that Chinese investors will continue to be major movers of capital into global real estate for many years to come,– says Green-Morgan. –But a similar increase in 2017 may be challenging given the recent discussion about China monitoring its capital outflows.–
Overseas investment aside, Chinese investors further deepened their investment domestically. They accounted for more than 86 percent of transactions in China in 2016, up from about 75 percent in the past few years.
The tier 1 cities were most attractive to these investors, according to Johnny Shao, Head of Capital Markets for Shanghai and East China, JLL.

–Total transaction volumes in Shanghai reached $14 billion, accounting for 48 percent of China’s total investment volume. Beijing was the runner-up, accounting for 16 percent of all the transaction volume in 2016, while Shenzhen came in third, reaching 10 percent of the total,– says Mr Shao.


New Liverpool Waters tower plan revealed

Developer Peel has revealed plans for another –multi-storey– apartment block at Princes Dock as part of the Liverpool Waters development.

Peel Land and Property (PLP) hopes to start work later this year on the £21m –Plaza 1821– project, subject to planning permission.

Once complete, the tower and its 105 one and two-bedroom apartments will be sold to Liverpool-based housing giant the Regenda Group.

Peel has not yet revealed how tall the tower will be. All the towers are part of Liverpool Waters, Peel’s £5.5bn masterplan to transform Liverpool’s northern docks.

It’s the third tower block plan to be announced for William Jessop Way in recent months.

In September, Moda Living won planning permission for a 34-storey £82m tower, called The Lexington.

And a few weeks later, Your Housing Group (YHG) said it wanted to build a 30-storey tower called The Hive – City Dock next door.

The name Plaza 1821 commemorates Princes Dock’s opening in 1821 on the day of the Prince Regent’s coronation as George IV.

New Liverpool Waters tower plan revealed

Neil Baumber, PLP’s development director for residential, said: –This is the first Peel private rental sector (PRS) development project where Peel is acting as the developer and it’s a model we will use at some of our other sites across the North of England. In Liverpool we are delighted to be working with such a well-regarded housing provider as Regenda.–

–This scheme also represents a major milestone in Peel’s wider vision to create a stunning waterfront for Liverpool following recent similar announcements. There is now significant momentum behind our plans as investors realise the potential and opportunity which this site offers.–

Liverpool headquartered Regenda has a turnover of £63m and has built more than 500 properties over the last three years across Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire.

Martin Davies, director of development at Regenda, said: –This will be Regenda’s biggest single property investment and a development that reflects our ambitions for the future.

–It’s an exciting and spacious scheme which will be a high quality development in a wonderful setting on the River Mersey. It will be the first of a series of city centre developments and will boost our portfolio of PRS stock, providing high quality homes for rent within the Liverpool Waters development.–

One month for £1bn Bovis deal to “get real”

The biggest merger deal between listed housebuilders since the creation of Taylor Wimpey now has a month until ‘time out’.

Under City takeover rules, Galliford Try and Redrow get until 5pm on April 9 to announce a firm intention to make a bid for Bovis Homes – with its landbank valued at around £1bn – or walk away.

The Bovis board has rejected initial offers from both as not reflecting the underlying value of the business.

But, in a statement, Bovis said: “The decision to reject the proposals was communicated to the two parties. Redrow subsequently indicated that it was not willing to improve the terms of its proposal and discussions were terminated. Discussions with Galliford Try are ongoing.”

Redrow – which made its initial approach in February when the Bovis share price was at £7.74 – won’t be going away, maintaining that combination represents a ‘compelling opportunity’.

Any merger would create one of Britain’s biggest housebuilders and the largest such deal done since the George Wimpey and Taylor Woodrow combined in 2007.

Such a merger could mean major cost savings, with the sector exposed to skills shortages and shaky investor confidence as the UK prepares for Brexit.

But demand for new homes is still strong in a market that has suffered from chronic supply shortages for years.

In its pitch, FTSE 250 firm Galliford highlighted how its housebuilding business could complement fellow FTSE 250 member Bovis.

Galliford has a regeneration arm; the housebuilding group Linden Homes, which builds around 3,000 homes a year and a construction business.

The current spread of Bovis’s building activity is seen as a good addition to the focus by Linden Homes on the south and south-east of England.

An all-share merger with Bovis, as proposed, would create a housebuilder with national scale and geographic coverage through the combination of the sixth and eighth largest UK housebuilders by completions.

The offers come amid upheaval at Bovis.

With shares underperforming the rest of the sector, Bovis put out a profit warning in January when chief executive David Ritchie departed.

In the interim, finance director Earl Sibley stepped up to acting chief executive, with the board giving the go-ahead to search for a permanent successor – a process which is expected to take several months.

Investors were told Bovis would complete about 180 fewer homes than expected for the year, with between 3,950 and 4,000 completions rather than the 4,170 forecast by the City.

The squeeze on shares increased last month with Bovis confirming a £7m payment to repair poorly built new homes, apologising to customers and agreeing to compensation.

Latest data shows in Bovis closed at 828p on Friday (March 10) and still down 19% since the Brexit vote.

Shares in Galliford, however, have seen off a post-Brexit-vote slump to go 19% higher over the same period.

Redrow’s shares rallied to a relatively quick turnaround and are up almost 17%.

By Monday, Bovis shares rose 7.9% to 893p early on Monday morning while Redrow and Galliford Try were up slightly.

The Galliford offer is reported at 886p per share – to value its rival at £1.19bn – with the combined group split 52.25% to Galliford Try shareholders and 47.75% to Bovis shareholders.

Redrow’s offer is reported as worth the equivalent of 814p per Bovis share out of cash, new Redrow shares and dividend payments – with Bovis shareholders owning approximately 32.4% of the merged group.

Bovis has been the subject of takeover speculation for some time.

Much of that speculation raises questions about whether the Bovis land bank – valued at £1bn and holding consented plots for 18,700 homes – is worth cost of acquisition, given the relative ease by which land can be bought directly in the current market.

But that bank is strong in the south and a buy allows Galliford – with its strength in the west, south-west, and east Midlands – access.

Should Galliford win over Bovis with a revised bid succeeded, market analysts expect the combination to create a top-five UK housebuilder with a market value of about £2.5bn and output of more than 6,700 homes a year.

With net cash reported at £39m, Bovis is not under pressure to get a deal done.

In January, Redrow chairman Steve Morgan rejected hoarding accusations linking land banking to profit maximisation, saying the present planning system was the biggest barrier to house building given the current one to two yea time frame moving from outline to detailed permission.

Redrow has some 26,000 plots in its landbank with Morgan saying that at one-third of them the firm can’t get on site.

The government’s Housing White Paper proposed forcing housebuilders to surrender land if construction had not started two years after planning permission was granted – against the current three year rule.

Morgan said that if the time was counted from the grant of outline permission it would make many projects “impossible”.

Most Commercial Property Investors in U.S. Are Net Buyers in 2017

Los Angeles Retains Position as Number One Target

According to CBRE newly released Americas Investor Intentions Survey 2017, the prospect of increased U.S. economic growth combined with less regulation, means that investor sentiment for commercial real estate investment is marginally more positive than last year, despite the potential for rising interest rates.

  • Industrial is Most Attractive Property Type for Investment in U.S.
  • More Than Half of Institutional Investors Plan to Deploy $1 Billion in U.S. or More in 2017

The 2017 survey results reveal that investors will remain actively engaged in real estate investment this year, with the majority (67%) intending to be net buyers (more acquisitions than dispositions). The percentage of net buyers has increased since 2015 (60%) and 2016 (65%). The vast majority of these investors (83%) intend to maintain or increase their purchasing activity in 2017.

Slow global economic growth that could undermine occupier demand (22%) was identified as the greatest risk factor for real estate investors, just ahead of rising interest rates (21%). Concern about property being overpriced and –a bubble waiting to burst– (16%) is a distant third among the list of potential threats. Investors are relatively unconcerned about the potential effects of government policy measures.

–While investors expect to largely maintain last year’s investment activity levels, they also intend to retreat on the risk curve, becoming more conservative in strategy and risk appetite. This is counterbalanced by the search for yield,– said Brian McAuliffe, president, Institutional Properties, Capital Markets, CBRE.

–Echoing concerns that arose at the beginning of 2015, investors perceive the global economy and rising interest rates as the greatest threats to property markets; they also continue to have concerns about asset pricing. If the anticipated level of inflow into commercial real estate materializes, this should to some extent counteract any pricing pressure resulting from a rise in interest rates,– Mr. McAuliffe added.

Investors continue to be strongly interested in U.S. gateway markets. Los Angeles maintained its position as the most preferred metro for investment in 2017, ahead of Dallas/Fort Worth and New York City. Washington, D.C. moved up the ranks from eighth to the fourth most preferred metro for investment in 2017. Atlanta, Seattle and Houston are also viewed as attractive markets for investment. The majority of investors are focused on real estate in the Americas and do not intend to make asset purchases in other regions of the world.

Half of the investors surveyed (51%) are primarily searching for yield, relative to both government bonds (30%) and other asset classes (21%). This trend is even more pronounced among institutional investors, with 53% searching for yield.

Among the five different asset types by strategy–prime or core, good secondary, value-add, opportunistic, and distressed–value-add remains the preferred strategy (39%) and at similar levels to 2016. Investors’ appetite for good secondary (non-core) assets increased significantly in 2017, ranking second. This displaced core, which was ranked second-highest in 2016. The relatively diminished appetite for core product is attributed to a combination of low cap rates (which are not expected to get lower), weakening property fundamentals, and the search for higher yielding assets.

Reversing 2016 trends, the industrial sector (38%) is viewed as the most attractive asset class for investment in 2017, replacing multifamily (28%), with office (18%) in third position. Reflecting the headwinds in the retail sector from e-commerce competition, only 8% of investors cited retail as an attractive option in 2017, significantly lower than the 17% in 2016. Among –alternatives–, retirement housing was the only sector with an increase in interest, albeit small at 2%. Conversely, there were sharp drops in interest in real estate debt product and the leisure/entertainment sector.

–U.S. industrial has emerged as a preferred asset class for institutional investors, both domestic and foreign. Global investors are targeting the sector for acquisitions and development, especially opportunities with scale. Investors realize that the fundamentals are robust with record-setting metrics for net absorption and rental rate growth, while new economic drivers such as e-commerce and the ‘Last Mile’ are creating even more growth in the sector,– said Jack Fraker, vice chairman and managing director, Industrial Properties, Capital Markets, CBRE.

Institutional investors (comprising sovereign wealth funds, insurance and pension funds) intend to be strong net buyers in 2017. More than half (54%) of all institutions plan to deploy more than $1 billion of capital in the Americas this year. Marking a departure from the wider pool of survey respondents, institutions are still primarily focused on core assets, closely followed by value-add. CBRE Research estimates that SWFs in particular are under-allocated to commercial real estate (with top 20 SWF’s allocating an estimated 3% of total assets to real estate), which accounts for expected higher levels of capital deployment.

Local creative talents invited to utilize Jakarta Creative Hub

Young creative businesses can now utilize machines, such as 3D printers as well as woodworking, sewing and fashion sizing machines, at a lower price at the newly opened Jakarta Creative Hub.

The co-working space can be found on the first floor of Graha Niaga building in Melati reservoir area, Tanah Abang, near the Thamrin City and Grand Indonesia Shopping Mall in Central Jakarta.

Veronica Tan, head of the Indonesian Handicrafts Council (Dekranasda), said that the space was designed for young creative businesspeople who could not yet afford to rent such a facility or working space on their own.

–[Dekranasda] has been focusing on providing training for creative talents. Following the recent Jakarta Fashion Week [JFW] event, we thought [to ourselves], why don’t we provide the facilities needed by young people?– she said.

Veronica was previously asked by JFW organizers if she could provide sizing machines as there are many young designers who cannot afford them.

Residents who have Jakarta identification cards may apply to use the space. The management will then select users who they consider to be creative and genuinely wishing to create businesses, particularly in the fashion industry. Those selected will be able to utilize classrooms, co-offices, a co-working space and workshop areas available at the hub. They may also register their business using the Jakarta Creative Hub address, attend regular training sessions and consult with instructors from Indoestri makerspace.

During the opening, Jakarta Governor Basuki –Ahok– Tjahaja Purnama said the city administration would provide subsidies for businesses that had managed to attract customers. –There is no set of limit on the amount [of the subsidy]; it depends on how many orders they are getting,– he said, adding that subsidy receivers would only be required to return 20 percent of their income, which will later be used to manage the space.

Ahok also said that the administration planned to open a similar facility on Jl. Dr. Satrio in Kuningan, South Jakarta, to develop software and application businesses.

Users of Jakarta Creative Hub will be reviewed regularly. Businesses that fail to make progress, as well as successful ones may be asked to leave in order to give space for new startups to grow.

The space management is currently reviewing the terms and conditions of the site’s usage and membership. In the meantime, it is open for training sessions and sightseeing. (kes)