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Real estate investor tapped for Army post; Morguard nabs majority Temple stake

Commercial real estate

* President-elect Donald Trump picked Virtu Financial Inc. Executive Chairman and founder Vincent Viola as secretary of the U.S. Army, The Wall Street Journal reported. In addition to being an army veteran, Viola is a recent real estate investor, having acquired two buildings in Brooklyn, N.Y., including the Jehovah's Witnesses' building at 124 Columbia Heights for $105 million in April, according to The Real Deal.

* George Washington University selected Boston Properties Inc. to redevelop the property at 2100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW and the Rice Hall beside it at 2121 Eye St. NW in Washington, D.C. The two properties, which will be redeveloped under a ground lease with the university, sit near The Avenue mixed-use development at 2200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, the Washington Business Journal reported.

* A joint venture between Kennedy Wilson Holdings Inc. and Takenaka Corp. purchased the landmark bank branch and office tower at 400/430 California St. in the North Financial District submarket of San Francisco for $135 million. The class A property is fully occupied by MUFG Union Bank, and Kennedy-Wilson's investment in the transaction is $13.5 million.

* Gramercy Property Trust Inc.'s board of trustees approved a 1-for-3 reverse split of the company's common shares and its outstanding units of GPT Operating Partnership LP, with the split set to become effective at around 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 30. The reverse stock split will result in the reduction of the company's outstanding common shares of beneficial interest to about 140.7 million from roughly 422.0 million.

* TIER REIT Inc. scooped up the Domain 2 and Domain 7 office buildings covering 337,000 square feet at 11800 Domain Blvd. and 11421 Alterra Way in Austin, Texas, for a reported price of about $150 million, the Austin Business Journal reported, citing Real Capital Analytics. TIER REIT, which already has a footprint at The Domain, acquired the buildings from Shorenstein Properties.

* Amazon will launch a search for 250,000 square feet of new office space in New York in 2017, with plans to occupy it by 2018, The Real Deal reported, citing unnamed sources. In New York City, the retail giant occupies space at SL Green Realty Corp.'s office tower at 1350 Avenue of the Americas and Vornado Realty Trust's property at 7 West 34th St.

* LaSalle Investment Management Inc. splashed out $118.6 million on a 251,000-square-foot brick-and-beam office near General Electric Co.'s future headquarters in Boston's Seaport District. The company acquired the property at 10-20 Channel Center St. from Callahan Capital Properties in a deal completed Dec. 15, the Boston Business Journal reported.

* The cost of the 630-foot New York Wheel being built on Staten Island's St. George waterfront is approaching $600 million, which is $300 million over its estimated budget, Crain's New York Business reported. The launch of the Ferris wheel has also been pushed back to 2018 from early 2017. The New York Post also reported on the news.

* JEMB Realty intends to sell a 50% stake in its 34-story office tower at 75 Broad St. in New York City's Financial District, while also seeking to refinance the property it fully owns with a mortgage of up to $260 million, The Real Deal reported. The 715,000-square-foot New York Technology Exchange building is being marketed by Cushman & Wakefield and could be worth as much as $400 million, the publication noted, citing Real Estate Alert.

* Equus Capital Partners Ltd. raised $361 million for its 12th real estate investment fund, which will focus on acquiring offices, apartments and labs, or research and development properties. The firm has already used 50% of the money to acquire 11 properties, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

* Engineering firm JQ has been tapped to aid in the initial $45 million phase of the $175 million overhaul of the historic 70-acre Fort Worth stockyards in Texas. A partnership between Majestic Realty Co. and Hickman Cos. is overseeing the project, which involves the redevelopment of the barns at 122-124 E. Exchange Ave. into roughly 185,000 square feet of office, restaurant and retail space, the Dallas Business Journal reported.

* Brisa Builders is advancing its 512-unit Ebenezer Plaza rental apartment project in Brownsville, N.Y., which it will develop in partnership with Procida Companies and the Church of God of East Flatbush, The Real Deal reported. Earlier in 2016, the developers submitted a $160 million financing application to the New York City Housing Development Corp. for the project.

* Related Cos.' real estate development arm Related Beal paid $146.5 million to buy the 286,000-square-foot research and development facility at 27 Drydock Ave. in Boston's Seaport District, the Boston Business Journal reported. The facility sits next to the planned Reebok International Ltd. headquarters at 25 Drydock Ave.

* Wells Fargo Bank is increasing its office footprint in the 47-story Wells Fargo Center building in downtown Miami to 150,816 square feet with a new $32 million lease signed with landlord Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. The transaction was billed as the area's largest office lease in 2016, the South Florida Business Journal reported.

After the bell

* Morguard Corp. snapped up 54,578,187 common shares in Temple Hotels Inc. in the latter's just-concluded rights offering, boosting its stake in the company to 56.1% of outstanding shares. Morguard owned 38.9% of Temple's outstanding common stock before the offering.

* Innovative Industrial Properties Inc. wrapped up its purchase of PharmaCann LLC's newly built 127,000-square-foot medical-use cannabis cultivation and processing facility in New York in a $30 million sale-leaseback transaction. The cannabis REIT recently concluded its IPO of 3,350,000 common shares.


* Boyd Gaming Corp. closed on its $230 million acquisition of the Cannery and Eastside Cannery properties after obtaining unanimous licensing approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission and clearing the Federal Trade Commission review. With the acquisition of the two Cannery assets, Boyd's holdings now total 12 properties in Southern Nevada and 24 across the U.S., the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

* The Review-Journal also reported that the partnership that acquired the Showcase Mall on the Las Vegas Strip for close to $370 million in December 2015 signed up Skechers for space at the property under a 10-year lease. The transaction marks one of the partnership's first biggest investments into the Strip retail market.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng slid 0.47% to 21,729.06, while the Nikkei 225 gained 0.53% to 19,494.53.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 inched up 0.06% to 7,021.65, and the Euronext 100 edged 0.31% higher to 928.59.

On the macro front

The Redbook is due out today.

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The Property Ledger: Rexford nabs San Diego property; Wheeler REIT pays $23.5M for Va. asset: The Dec. 19 edition of the North American property news roundup also features the latest property transactions by CBL & Associates, Terreno Realty and Partners REIT.

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