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Lowe"s tower in South End sells for record price per square foot

The Lowe's Global Technology Center sold to an affiliate of Apollo Global Management for $318 million......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 24th, 2021

3 signs you may be able to snag your dream home at a lower price, according to Opendoor"s head of real estate

Kerry Melcher suggests keeping an eye on newer listings with a better price per square foot as well as availability to book home tours. A realtor's for sale sign stands outside a house that had been sold in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 27, 2021. Patrick Doyle/Reuters Kerry Melcher is the head of real estate at Opendoor, an iBuying real estate firm. If you're trying to snag a dream home at the lowest price possible, Melcher says there are several clues to look for. Keep an eye on newer listings with a better price per square foot, as well as how easy it is to book a home tour. After a year of seeing record-setting home prices and increased buyer demand across the US, the housing market has begun to show signs of cooling off around the country. But how can millions of hopeful homebuyers spot a potential cool-off in neighborhoods where they'd like to buy - and time their house hunt accordingly? Kerry Melcher is the head of real estate at Opendoor. Kerry Melcher As the head of real estate at Opendoor, I stay on top of prices and fluctuations in the housing market. Market cool-off signs go beyond noticing your neighbors are finally talking about more than their home-buying woes. Here are three specific things to look for, and what to do when you notice the signs.Editor's note: Opendoor is an iBuying platform that purchases and resells homes around the country.1. You see more 'for sale' signs in your neighborhood - and they aren't disappearing overnightIn a strong seller's market, the average number of days homes are available on the market decreases. Remarkably, 89% of residential properties sold in less than a month in June 2021, as compared to 56% in 2019. Sellers also reported an average of four offers on their homes in June, double the number from just two years ago - validating aspiring homebuyers who may have thought they were imagining that homes were selling overnight.Are you looking to buy in a popular neighborhood? "For sale" signs hanging out for more than a few days without a 'sold' sign may indicate that a strong local seller's market is beginning to slow down. Now is an ideal time to drive around your desired neighborhoods and tour some available homes. The start of a slowdown is also a smart time to check back in with your lender.Let them know if your income or plans for a down payment have changed, and discuss any rate adjustments that have taken place since your previous conversation. Make sure any pre-qualification you received during the height of a buying frenzy is still accurate so you can adjust your search according to numbers both you and your lender feel comfortable with.2. Homes are selling within the current price range for the neighborhood, rather than setting new record highsA trifecta of low inventory, historically low mortgage rates, and increased buyer demand created a strong seller's market, driving prices across the US to continue reaching record highs this summer. Do you know what prices homes have been selling for nearby or in your desired neighborhood?It's wise to keep a close eye on the local market so you can spot a potential cool-off as numbers shift. Pay attention to the new active inventory. As prices begin to normalize, you may see new inventory listing at a better price per square foot than with houses that have been sitting for more than 30 days.When you notice prices are changing, invest time in understanding your ideal neighborhood - and surrounding neighborhoods - to become more familiar with home features and relative pricing. Buying often slows considerably in November and December, which may inspire some sellers to take an offer they might otherwise consider to be low. If your timeline aligns, it may be a good time to be more aggressive with your offer. You may be able to buy even more house than you initially thought possible!3. You have noticeably more choice in available homes - and time to tour themAmidst the hottest housing market we've experienced in decades, national inventory of active listings declined by more than 50% in early 2021 - leaving home shoppers with fewer homes to see throughout spring and summer months. Cooling markets allow for more choice, as well as more time for home shoppers to tour a property before it sells. If there seem to be more homes available and it's noticeably easier to book a home tour, the local market may be cooling off. To make the most of your search, be intentional about budgeting your time. You may still need to see multiple properties in one day, and it's a smart idea to give yourself at least an hour for each property (including travel time). During your tour, focus on items that matter most: odors, the condition of walls and floors, any issues with integrated fixtures or systems (such as exposed wires or problems with the home's HVAC system), unpermitted additions, and the lawn condition. Knowing which questions you should ask during a home tour will also help you stay focused and evaluate a potential property efficiently.If you're well-positioned to monitor for market cool-off signs and wait for a great deal, the best thing to do now is ensure you're financially prepared in the future to buy the home of your dreams. Kerry Melcher is the head of real estate at Opendoor, a third-generation realtor, and long-time member of the local Phoenix real estate business community.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 30th, 2021

Herb Greenberg: Despite A Hot IPO, Think Twice Before Rushing Into This Growth Story

Empire Financial Daily newletter in which Herb Greenberg discusses investing in Dutch Bros Inc (NYSE:BROS). Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more One of my favorite interviews – many years ago – was with Gordon Segal, founder of home décor retailer Crate & Barrel… Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more We discussed […] Empire Financial Daily newletter in which Herb Greenberg discusses investing in Dutch Bros Inc (NYSE:BROS). if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more One of my favorite interviews – many years ago – was with Gordon Segal, founder of home décor retailer Crate & Barrel... if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get Our Activist Investing Case Study! Get the entire 10-part series on our in-depth study on activist investing in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or print it out to read anywhere! Sign up below! (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more We discussed why he never got tempted by the riches offered by investment bankers to take Crate & Barrel public. Segal hated, just hated, the thought of putting up stores for the sake of meeting Wall Street's growth forecasts. Instead, he preferred opening new stores when he could find the right location, then staffing them with current employees. The truth is, once a retailer or restaurant goes public, especially if it has a seemingly hot concept, the goal is fast growth. That means slapping up stores as fast as possible – and wherever possible – even if it's a terrible location. As veteran restaurant analyst John Gordon of Pacific Management Consulting put it, "This is the trouble every cool brand gets into." And with restaurants, especially, the eyes of management are often much bigger than their stomachs... Buca di Beppo A perfect example is Buca di Beppo, which had grand plans to dot the U.S. with 450 cavernous family-style Italian restaurants. As I wrote in Fortune magazine in 2001, when the company had just 68 stores in 21 states... Good luck! Says one former brokerage industry analyst who now works as a hedge fund manager: "I would be very careful of any management team that thinks it can build a 'national brand.' It just will not happen." And it didn't... Buca di Beppo's stock wound up collapsing until it was acquired in 2008 by Planet Hollywood. Even today, the company's website says it has "over 100 locations worldwide." (Translation: If it does, it's not much more than that.) The truth is that some concepts don't travel well to other geographies... or they aren't economically feasible for rapid or even broad expansion... or, if they're publicly traded, they simply can't remotely get close to the forecasted numbers they used to lure investors. Dutch Bros Enter the newly public coffee chain Dutch Bros Inc (NYSE:BROS)... With 471 drive-thru locations in 11 states – almost all west of the Rockies – the company's initial public offering ("IPO") last month caused lots of chatter. Born out of a coffee cart in Oregon, Dutch Bros rapidly created a cult-like following for its coffee – almost In-N-Out-like. The company also separated itself from competitors with mostly cold, high-octane drinks. Roughly a quarter of its sales, in fact, come from an energy drink that has no caffeine. Execution has been beyond reproach. The real sizzle in the story, though, is what the company says in its IPO filing about its future growth: That it believes it can balloon to 4,000 units. That got Wall Street's attention. But some big questions remain... Just how realistic is that number? And just as important, how long will it take to get there? After all, much like Crate & Barrel, Dutch Bros has prided itself on only opening stores staffed by existing employees. In a story, last June in Restaurant Business, Dutch Bros President Joth Ricci told the magazine's Jonathan Maze... We make sure the culture and the way we do things [are] protected. We only promote from within related to how we expand our culture and our business. That may be easier said than done now that Dutch Bros is a public company. As John Gordon says... Now they've got the burden of growing responsibly what they want to do versus the natural pressures that come with being publicly traded and pressures of quarterly earnings. But for Dutch Bros, there's something else that may give investors pause... Unlike most restaurants – or even coffee chains – Dutch Bros is drive-thru only. While that's good from the cost of the buildout and revenue per square foot, it's terrible for finding locations... especially post-pandemic and especially in crowded, well-established markets. As Gordon says... Demand for drive-thrus is great... After [the] pandemic, they became the golden property and will remain the golden property because for those afraid to get out of the car it became the ultimate convenience. Therein lies what quite possibly could be a problem for Dutch Bros... According to Gordon... Everyone realizes your fighting the likes of Starbucks (SBUX) and Dunkin' Donuts... They're all out for exactly the same kind of site – either conversion or new unit sites that Dutch Bros is. And it doesn't matter that the competition might not be as cool as Dutch Bros. This isn't about the coffee, the food, or even the product... The only thing that matters is the general lack of viable drive-thru locations, both new-builds and existing ones. Gordon put it this way... It's very difficult to get sites right now... I'm working for a huge international QSR [quick service restaurant] franchisor that has me looking for drive-thru sites. I will tell you... for one of their brands, it is beyond impossible to find drive-thrus. Given how hard it is – and to show what Dutch Bros is up against – Gordon says he and his client think it will take more than a year to find the right spots. As one friend in the coffee business put it to me... There aren't many options and Starbucks is really big on going that route. Landlords don't know much about coffee, so a lot of them would take Starbucks because of the name. Plus, Starbucks can pay more. That also doesn't bode well for part of the growth story... that Dutch Bros has yet to fully tap Southern California, especially Los Angeles and San Diego. As Gordon says... In certain dense states, California being one, it's going to be an immense challenge... [In other populated parts of California] city zoning makes it very hard to construct a new unit because of traffic and noise. There's something else to consider... Even if the company can build 4,000 units... how long will it take? In a recent report from investment bank Piper Sandler, I saw some impressive-looking stats... However, the length of time to hit 4,000 units is one thing (surprise, surprise!) that Dutch Bros doesn't say. Piper Sandler tried to take a stab at it, though... Based on "theoretical" performance, analyst Nicole Regan said her best guess is that "it may take as many as 12 years for this ultimate unit count to materialize." Twelve years? Forecasts based that far out, in my opinion, are generally meaningless. Besides, it doesn't really matter because from here to there, the only thing that matters for Dutch Bros (or any other fast-growing retailer or restaurant) is growth relative to expectations. That goes for revenue, average unit volume, and (key in the mix) the number of units. If Dutch Bros can't find enough good drive-thru locations, all bets are off. And while analyst after analyst in recent days has put a positive spin on Dutch Bros in their post-IPO initiation reports, it'll take a few quarters of earnings – especially guidance and management's commentary – for the real story to start emerging. And that doesn't even get into the question of whether Dutch Bros will play east of the Rockies. Two other points to consider... If its stock ever craters – or even if it doesn't – if Dutch Bros shows it has legs, it could wind up a potential acquisition target for a mature chain like Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. That is, of course, unless it proves to be a fad. Remember what I said earlier about how nearly a quarter of Dutch Bros' sales come from one product – a non-caffeine energy drink? What's to keep the company from striking a distribution partnership with a consumer packaged goods ("CPG") firm for a canned version – much like Starbucks does... or like California Pizza Kitchen does with its pizzas? That's a long-winded way of saying that while Dutch Bros faces a massive hurdle in finding drive-thru locations, there are levers that could bail out investors. The short term could be rocky... but for investors with a time horizon of longer than "immediate gratification," it's definitely worth watching. Goodrx And Traeger In the mailbag, reader responses about Medicare, Goodrx Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:GDRX), and Traeger Inc (NYSE:COOK)... As always, feel free to reach out via e-mail at feedback@empirefinancialresearch.com. And if you're on Twitter, feel free to follow me there at @herbgreenberg. My DMs are open. I look forward to hearing from you. "When comparing the pricing of Plan D plans vs. GoodRx, don't forget to add in the amount Social Security charges you for the privilege of using a Plan D. There is also GoodRx Gold for even better pricing. I use Kroger's (KR) drug Savings plan, which is run by GoodRx. Two years ago, I quit Medicare Plan D and (was) self-insured. I can't figure out how GoodRx makes any money? Could it be that the drug store gives them a rebate for the store selling at a reduced price?" – George C. Herb comment: George, you quit Medicare Part D? That's a bold move... but I'm glad to hear the Kroger plan is working. Turning to the way GoodRx makes money, as my colleague Enrique Abeyta wrote in the May issue of his Empire Elite Growth newsletter... GoodRx pays the PBMs [pharmacy benefit managers] a fee to get access to discounted drugs. That price includes the cost to manufacturers for those drugs, as well as what they pay for the drugstore to make their margin. The markup from those inputs becomes GoodRx's revenue. (Subscribers can read the full issue here... And if you aren't a subscriber, you can click here to find out how to gain instant access.) "Herb... Don't forget to check for other discount drug prices beyond GoodRx. They are not always the least expensive. For example, I get [a] continuous glucose monitor. In my area, GoodRx has it at around $128 for two from CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) with about $117 from Giant Pharmacy or $120 from my local pharmacy. A different discount card which seems to go by pharmacychecker.com has them for $92 at CVS rather than $128 (same CVS location), but in searching around, I found another card that has them for $77 at a CVS in Target (TGT)... Still CVS, but it has to be one in Target. If you get them at a regular CVS, it is more. Makes you wonder even more how much they really cost. Medicare doesn't cover them yet, but when it no doubt does it will pay more than this. Very strange and dysfunctional medical market in the USA. "Another thing that is also odd is the many drugs are lower priced for commercial insurance patients only. If you are on Medicare they are not discounted. I was taking one drug on a commercial insurance plan before my wife retired and it was a $5 co-pay each month. Under Medicare and Plan D, it was a $40 co-pay until the donut hole, then it was a $112 co-pay each month. GoodRx didn't help with this one as it was one of those advertised on TV. "And then there are the dental discount plans that you pay for rather than free that discount the dental cost by 40% or 50%. Be sure to look into those if you have to pay your own dental bills. I think GoodRx is going to expand to do that as well, but for now, I use the Aetna one." – Larry M. Herb comment: Thanks for the insightful comments, Larry. GoodRx definitely has competition, including in-store at the likes of CVS, when at point-of-sale the clerk might steer you to an even cheaper price. You know, the one that wasn't advertised but is offered because you showed a GoodRx coupon. Still, GoodRx probably has the single-best pricing platform, which is to its advantage. I think the one thing we can agree on is that when it comes to screw-ups, drug pricing in this country is at or near the top of the list! "So given what you've written, I assume you're no longer voting Republican right?" – Jack H. Herb comment: Hi Jack, I see the sarcasm there! Reality: I rarely discuss politics... But, for the record, I am and have been for years a registered independent. "Herb, your discussion regarding Traeger evoked some thoughts. We bought our first Traeger over 15 years ago when they were produced by a small company in Oregon. We have purchased seven more since then as we moved from one home to another and left ours for the lucky homebuyer. We even gave one to our parish priest for a home warming gift. We did buy one at a Costco and while the price was attractive the model was different than Traeger's own models and was 'bundled' with pellets, cover, etc., to make it seem like more of a bargain. "Why would they do this you asked. For people like you who haven't heard of Traeger and might never know of them! Costco has millions of members who shop regularly, and many of them will be introduced to the brand during their normal visits. Once someone is 'hooked on Traeger', few will move away from them. Meanwhile, Traeger sells their top-of-the-line 'Timberline' models at premium prices available only at select retailers who won't discount them. You should check out a Traeger... they're used to cook many dishes besides barbecue for which they are well known. My wife even bakes cakes in ours as well as recipes aimed at an oven! The Traeger imparts special flavors using different wood pellets, and temperatures are electronically controlled as precisely as our kitchen oven. We love our Traeger and use it several times a week! Best," – Robert O. Herb comment: Hi Robert, unfortunately, my overpriced Lynx is built-in, and everybody I know who uses a Traeger swears by it (though one friend who recently bought one was a little underwhelmed). I think the bigger issue here is why Traeger was discounting its grills at Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST). It's one thing to be at Costco, which sometimes is a "tell" that a company is having problems pushing a product. I understand the difference with Traeger and its Costco relationship. But discounting at Costco – with not only special sales but even deeper-discounted roadshows – is a red flag. Of course, so was Starbucks opening up stores across the street from one another, and you see how that turned out! Regards, Herb Greenberg Updated on Oct 18, 2021, 3:54 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 18th, 2021

Alexandria sells stake in South Lake Union building for near-record price

The sale was the second-highest price paid per square foot for a life sciences property in Seattle, according to Newmark, which arranged the off-market deal......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsSep 22nd, 2021

Paradise Valley home sells for record price per square foot

"She designed a home that no one has ever designed before, with so much detail and level of finishes." Take a look inside......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 23rd, 2021

The Ritz Carlton penthouse owned by late philanthropist Michelle Smith is on the market. See inside — and its sweeping views.

The 6,400-square-foot condominium has sweeping views of the Potomac. It would set a record if it sells for its asking price......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJan 14th, 2021

Luxury apartment tower overlooking Fox Theatre sells for record price

A 25-story tower in south Midtown sold to the real estate arm of one of Canada's largest pension plans......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsFeb 20th, 2020

Legacy Union tower sells for $441.6M to Highwoods

Bank of America Tower at Legacy Union has sold to Highwoods Properties for a record-setting amount. Highwoods (NYSE: HIW), a REIT based in Raleigh, paid about $441.6 million for the 33-story, 841,164-square-foot building, at 620 S. Tryon St., a s.....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 20th, 2019

Urban Visions sells tower site near Pike Place to an apparent condo developer

The price works out to nearly $1,700 a square foot, one of the highest prices ever paid for land in downtown Seattle......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJun 6th, 2018

Tommy Bahama"s South Lake Union HQ sells in the biggest deal of the year so far

The $338.4 million price works out to $990 per square foot, just short of the Puget Sound region's record $992 per square foot set by a nearby property sale this spring......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJul 10th, 2018

Small Waikiki retail building on Kalakaua sells for record $30M

An entity affiliated with Maruito USA paid $30 million to acquire a small retail building on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, setting a new record price-per-square-foot for land in Hawaii’s tourism mecca. The property at 2184 Kalakaua Ave., which is .....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsDec 20th, 2018

Small Edina retail center sells for reported record price

The 6,702-square-foot building sold for $8.25 million, which works out to $1,231 per square foot......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsFeb 21st, 2019

A plot of digital land was just sold in the metaverse for $2.43 million — more than most homes in NYC and San Francisco cost

Metaverse Group, a subsidiary of Tokens.com, completed the purchase for a patch of digital land for 618,000 mana, or about $2.43 million at the time. Decentraland is one of the most popular metaverses.Decentraland press kit A plot of digital land just sold for $2.43 million in Decentraland, a popular metaverse environment. The property just tops the average home price in Manhattan and beats out San Francisco's average. Metaverse coins have been skyrocketing, with Decentraland's mana up nearly 60% in the past week. Real estate is booming in the metaverse. A plot of digital land in Decentraland — an online, virtual-only environment — sold for a record $2.43 million worth of cryptocurrency on Tuesday, more than double the prior record high for virtual real estate, which was more than $913,000.That's also a smidge higher than the average home price in Manhattan and well above prices in the other boroughs, as well as dwellings in San Francisco.Metaverse Group, a subsidiary of Tokens.com, completed the purchase of a patch of digital land for 618,000 mana, or about $2.43 million at the time, according to a Decentraland spokesperson and a statement by Tokens.com. Mana is Decentraland's cryptocurrency, which users employ to buy and sell assets in the virtual space.Tokens.com said it would use the "116 parcel estate in the heart of the Fashion Street district" of Decentraland for expansion into the digital-fashion industry.To be sure, homes in the US finance and tech capitals are still pricier on a per-square-foot basis.One parcel of land in Decentraland is equivalent to 52.5 square feet. The Tokens.com purchase is roughly equivalent to 6,090 square feet of land — well above the 1,150 square footage in an average home in San Francisco. That comes out to roughly $400 a square foot in Decentraland versus $1,200 in San Francisco.Interest in the metaverse has skyrocketed since Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta. Enthusiasts buy land in the metaverse as a speculative investment, and other digital properties have sold for hefty price tags, too.Crypto tokens connected to the metaverse have surged lately, with mana rising almost 60% in the past week.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 24th, 2021

A plot of digital land was just sold in the metaverse for $2.43 million — more than most homes in NYC and San Francisco

Metaverse Group, a subsidiary of Tokens.com, completed the purchase for a patch of digital land for 618,000 MANA, or about $2,428,740 at the time. Decentraland is one of the most popular metaverses.Decentraland press kit A plot of digital land just sold for $2.43 million in Decentraland, one of the most popular metaverse environments. The metaverse property just tops the average home price in Manhattan, and beats out San Francisco's average by about $1 million.  Metaverse-related coins have skyrocketed recently, with Decentraland's Mana coin surging nearly 60% in the last week.  Real estate is booming in the metaverse. A plot of digital land in Decentraland — an online, virtual-only environment — sold for a record $2.43 million worth of cryptocurrency on Tuesday, more than double the prior record high for virtual real estate of more than $913,000.That's also a smidge higher than the average home in Manhattan, and well above prices in the other boroughs as well as those in San Francisco.Metaverse Group, a subsidiary of Tokens.com, completed the purchase for a patch of digital land for 618,000 MANA, or about $2,428,740 at the time, according to a Decentraland spokesperson and a statement by Tokens.com. MANA is Decentraland's cryptocurrency, which users employ to buy and sell assets in the virtual space. Tokens.com said it will use the "116 parcel estate in the heart of the Fashion Street district" of Decentraland for expansion into the digital fashion industry. To be sure, homes in the US finance and tech capitals are still pricier on a per-square-foot basis.One parcel of land in Decentraland is equivalent to 52.5 square feet. The Tokens.com purchase is roughly equivalent to 6,090 square feet of land — well above the 1,150 square footage in an average home in San Francisco. That comes out to roughly $400 per square foot in Decentraland versus $1,200 in San Francisco.Interest in the metaverse has skyrocketed since Facebook renamed itself Meta. Enthusiasts buy land in the metaverse as a speculative investment, and other digital properties have sold for hefty price tags, too.Crypto tokens connected to the surging metaverse have surged lately, with MANA rising almost 60% in the last week.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 24th, 2021

Buying a House Feels Impossible These Days. Here Are 6 Innovative Paths to Homeownership

A dozen Grade-A eggs will run you about $0.40 more than they did a year ago, and you’ll have to fork over $0.66 more for a pound of ground beef. At the gas pump, a gallon of unleaded is now $1.23 higher than it was in 2020. But few year-over-year price increases compare to what’s… A dozen Grade-A eggs will run you about $0.40 more than they did a year ago, and you’ll have to fork over $0.66 more for a pound of ground beef. At the gas pump, a gallon of unleaded is now $1.23 higher than it was in 2020. But few year-over-year price increases compare to what’s happened to the American housing market. The sale price of a median home in the U.S. has ballooned by more than $67,000 in the past year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis — surging from just under $338,000 to nearly $405,000. There’s lots of reasons for this. In the past year, a combination of low interest rates and COVID-19, which forced tens of millions of people to work from home, fueled demand for houses. Longtime renters began looking to buy a place with more space, while those who were already homeowners began looking for secondary vacation residences. (Mortgage applications for second homes spiked 84% between January of 2020 and 2021.) [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] That jump in demand was compounded by a nationwide slump in housing supply—the result of both nationwide labor shortages and disruptions in the supply chain of crucial building materials, like copper and lumber. These recent issues have been exacerbated by lags in new housing construction over the past twenty years, according to a June report from the National Association of Realtors. The end result is that millions of American families across the income spectrum are now effectively locked out of homeownership. The problem is particularly acute for young people and people of color. The homeownership rate among millennials, ages 25-34, is 8 percentage points lower than it was for both baby boomers and Gen Xers in the same age cohort. Black homeownership, meanwhile, remains at just 45%—30% lower than that of white families and nearly unchanged since 1968, when overt housing discrimination was outlawed. It’s more than just a housing dilemma. Since home ownership remains the best way for an average family to accrue wealth over a lifetime, it’s a prosperity issue, too. Homeowners in the U.S. have, on average, forty times more wealth than renters, according to a September 2020 report from the Federal Reserve. In light of this crisis in home ownership, here are six ways that communities and companies around the country are legislating and innovating to help Americans buy a house. 1. A narrow case study in reparations for Black families Like most cities in the U.S., Evanston, Illinois has a long history of racist housing laws. For decades, Black residents were segregated into poor neighborhoods where occupancy rates were estimated to be 150% and some units lacked crucial amenities, like heating. While hundreds of vacant homes were available in more desirable parts of town, landlords and real estate agents explicitly barred Black families from renting them, and banks blocked Black families from financing. “Owners and agents of vacant property plan to prevent the negroes from spreading from their own quarters,” a 1918 Evanston News-Index article read. Housing segregation fueled wealth inequality: Black families in Evanston earn $46,000 less than their white counterparts on average. Former Evanston Alderman Robin Rue Simmons sought to address that sordid history. While in office in 2019, she created the first-ever taxpayer-backed reparations fund in a U.S. city. It sets aside $10 million in revenue, raised by the city’s tax on recreational marijuana, over a 10-year period. The first $400,000 out of that reserve will go to victims of racial housing discrimination and their descendants, divided up into $25,000 grants which can be used this year for down-payments on new homes, mortgage payments or renovations on existing homes. That initial $400,000 will hardly solve the problem. There are more than 12,000 Black residents in Evanston and the initial outlay will provide just 16 households with funding. But, Simmons argues, “it’s better than zero”—and the program also sets a key precedent. In the years since Evanston stood up its reparations fund, several other locales, including Detroit, Michigan and Amherst, Massachusetts, have voted to explore or start similar programs. “If you think of any significant, transformative national or federal legislation, it started with localities and grassroots efforts organizing and pushing their local leaders,” Simmons says. “This is no exception.” 2. Community Land Trusts: Buying the home but not the land The most unique part of the two-story home in Winooski, Vermont that Sarah and husband Colin Robinson bought for $172,000 in 2008 wasn’t its quaint terrace garden or the funky bunk-room upstairs. It was the fact that the Robinsons didn’t own the land that it was built on. That’s because the house is part of what’s known as a community land trust (CLT)—a non-profit, community-controlled collection of properties. The first CLT in the U.S. was created in Albany Georgia in 1969. Now there are more than 220 nationwide, offering more than 12,000 homes total. While the particular rules of each CLT are a little different, the idea is the same: aspiring homeowners share the cost of purchasing a house with the CLT, which owns the land the home is built on. When the homeowner sells, he or she returns a share of the appreciation with the CLT. Champlain Housing Trust—the CLT that helped the Robinsons become homeowners—is the largest in the country, with 636 properties in the Burlington area. Under its rules, the purchase price of an average home is offset by about 30%, and upon selling, the homeowner keeps a quarter of the home’s appreciation price, plus the cost of any major renovations invested into the property. The average Champlain Housing Trust member keeps their home for 7.5 years and walks away $25,000 richer—money that they can then put toward purchasing more expensive homes on the regular market. A 2010 Urban Institute analysis of Champlain Housing Trust, founded in 1984, found that 68% of those who left CLT went on to purchase market-rate homes. The Robinsons are a model of how it’s supposed to work. When they sold their first, CLT home in 2014, they walked away with $40,000 in equity, which they rolled into the purchase of their second home on the regular market. “We were able to bring that money with us, and that was really what made it possible,” says Sarah. “It really changed the trajectory of our lives.” 3. Zoning overhaul: Ending de-facto redlining Nowhere in the country is the racial housing gap wider than in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where more than 70% of white families own, compared to just 20% of Black families, according to a 2021 Urban Institute report. One big reason for this disparity is an insufficient supply of affordable homes: the state is 40,000 housing units short of demand, according to a Minnesota Housing Finance Agency estimate. Restrictive zoning rules built on decades of discriminatory policies worsen this shortage. After the federal government outlawed explicit racial housing discrimination in the 1960s, local lawmakers scrambled to bolster different regulations—namely single-family zoning ordinances that would maintain the homogeneousness of their neighborhoods. Under those rules, construction companies were banned from building anything other than standalone homes—including more affordable row homes, condominiums, duplexes, triplexes—in most upscale neighborhoods, which had the effect of pricing Black and brown families out of the market. Lisa Bender, president of Minneapolis’ City Council, argues that changing those rules is “the very bare minimum first thing” that policymakers can do “to fix centuries of racial exclusion.” In 2018, she spearheaded a City Council effort to rescind regulations reserving 70% of the city’s residential land for single-family zoning—a move that could effectively triple the housing supply in some Minneapolis neighborhoods by prompting construction of new, more cost-efficient multi-family units. The rule change went into effect in 2020. Portland, Oregon and the entire state of California have since enacted policies that effectively end single-family zoning too. Most Popular from TIME 4. 3D printing: Construction meets environmentalism and efficiency Jason Ballard, who grew up in an oil-soaked East Texas town, was always interested in environmental sustainability. But it wasn’t until college that he realized the best way he could explore environmentalism was not by becoming a biologist, but by becoming a builder. “Buildings are the number one user of energy. Construction is the number one producer of waste,” he says, adding that construction is also one of the top users of water behind agriculture. In 2017, he cofounded ICON, a construction technologies company that builds affordable, structurally sound, environmentally resilient single-family homes using a 3D printing method that creates far less waste than traditional building processes. While the startup is just getting off the ground—its first four homes sold this year—its cost of construction appears to be 10-30% less than traditional builders, thanks largely to reductions in labor and supply needs. In October, ICON announced a project to use its technology to break ground on 100 homes in the Austin area in 2022, creating the largest community of 3D-printed homes to date. Ballard predicts costs will continue to decrease as ICON automates more components of the construction process. The method also has the potential to be unbelievably speedy. While constructing an average American home the normal way takes 7.7 months, according to a 2018 U.S. Census Bureau survey, a Boston-based 3D printing construction company, Apis Cor, says it can make a move-in ready three-bedroom, two-bath in less than a month. Illustration by Wenjia Tang for TIME 5. Modular housing: building houses like Henry Ford built cars There’s no way that Sara and Jon Comiskey, both in their mid-20s, would have been able to afford a house in the Buena Vista area of Colorado, where median home prices hover around $515,000, if it wasn’t for a start-up called Fading West. In 2016, Fading West began building homes that were constructed off-site, in a factory, streamlining the production in the same way that manufacturers build cars. Workers complete most components of a house—house siding, flooring, and walls—at scale, then attach them to a foundation on site. Final features, like garages and porches, are added once the home is at its final resting place, says Fading West founder Charlie Chupp. “You wouldn’t build a Camry in someone’s driveway,” he says. Why do it for a house? Chupp says his company’s lean production model reduces waste by eliminating weather-related damage to materials like is typical during outdoor construction, requires fewer skilled laborers, and significantly reduces the time required to make a home. “With 100 people on a traditional system, you might be able to build between 100 and 150 homes a year,” he says. “We think we can do between 600 and 700 homes a year.” There are downsides. The need to transport the house components from factory to foundation curtails how large the end-product can be, and the standardization of the process means homeowners must accept limited design options. Customers get two cabinet choices, three tile options, three window sizes, and one color carpet. “We offer a standard quartz countertop in any color you want,” Chupp jokes, “as long as it’s white.” But Chupp also offers something that many other real estate developers don’t: affordability. He estimates his off-site produced houses are at least 25% cheaper than comparable models in the area. In April 2021, the Comiskeys bought a 900-square-foot Fading West townhouse in Buena Vista for $240,000. 6. Divvy: A fresh take on rent-to-own Adena Hefets grew up listening to her parents’ stories of how difficult it was for them to purchase a home in the early 1980s. As an immigrant from Israel, her dad didn’t have an established credit score and so couldn’t get a mortgage. Eventually, her family was able to buy a seller-financed home—a rare home-buying mechanism where a seller allows a buyer to pay for a home in increments, rather than making mortgage payments to a bank. In 2017, Hefets started Divvy, a tech company, that offers prospective homebuyers a very similar model. Divvy purchases homes on the open-market and covers closing costs, taxes, insurance and repairs in exchange for the client paying monthly rent that is approximately 10-25% more than what they would pay for comparable rentals in the area. The differential goes toward equity in the home. The client can then buy back the home with the equity they accrued through paying the rent, or cash out the equity at the end of their lease. It’s not a universal solution. Divvy requires that buyers have moderate credit scores and clients must be able to pay above market-rate rents. But in the last five years, the company has entered partnerships with thousands of families, roughly 47% of whom end up purchasing their home back from Divvy. LaCresa Hooks, who works as an accountant, couldn’t find a traditional mortgage because she was working as a short-term contractor. In October 2020, she signed a lease with Divvy and less than a year later, she’d bought back her 3-bedroom, 2-bath Georgia home with bank financing thanks to the equity she accrued. Now, she looks forward to something most people loathe: Paying her mortgage. “I’m building something now,” she says. “With rent, you aren’t building anything. You’re just paying your landlord and that’s it for the next 30 days.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 22nd, 2021

Olayan lands Chubb as 550 Madison anchor

The Olayan Group announced that global property and casualty insurance firm Chubb has signed a lease for 240,000 square feet of office space at the newly revitalized 550 Madison Avenue. The insurance is the the first tenant of the iconic, Philip Johnson designed office tower that has been transformed by... The post Olayan lands Chubb as 550 Madison anchor appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. The Olayan Group announced that global property and casualty insurance firm Chubb has signed a lease for 240,000 square feet of office space at the newly revitalized 550 Madison Avenue. The insurance is the the first tenant of the iconic, Philip Johnson designed office tower that has been transformed by Olayan Group to a world-class multi-tenant new office space.  The building is now the city’s healthiest place to work, the only building in New York targeting both LEED Platinum and WELL Gold certifications. The Chubb lease represents more than 31% of the building’s rentable office space. 550 MADISON “550 Madison is unlike any building in New York, combining the single healthiest office environment in the city with globally recognized landmark architecture,” said Erik Horvat, Managing Director, Head of Real Estate for Olayan America. “We pride ourselves on creating world-class spaces that inspire leadership and creativity, and we are proud to welcome Chubb –a company that shares those values–as our anchor tenant.” Earlier this year, the building’s newly renovated lobby, redesigned by Gensler, was unveiled with a new art installation from world-renowned artist Alicja Kwade, entitled Solid Sky. The work is a 24 ton Azul do Macaubas sphere hanging by ten polished stainless steel chains just 12 feet above the floor, and highlights the impressive height and clear verticality of the main hall, honoring Johnson’s original postmodern vision. 550 Madison has also partnered with luxury publisher Assouline to curate a library for the landmark office tower as an exclusive amenity for tenants on the club level, which is being designed by Rockwell Group. The partnership is the first of its kind for the publisher, the first office amenity to be envisioned by Assouline. Rendering of renovated property. Since its opening in 1984, 550 Madision has housed just two tenants – AT&T and Sony. The Olayan Group acquired the tower in 2016 and the building became New York City’s youngest landmark in 2018. It will open in 2022 as a multi-tenant building for the first time. The 800,000 s/f tower features 14-foot high ceilings; large, column-free floor plates; north, south, east, and west-facing views of New York City; river to river sightlines; and offices overlooking Central Park. The ownership and development team is creating a one-of-a-kind amenity package which all tenants and visitors can access – this will include food and beverage concepts, lounges, shared conferencing and work spaces, as well as distinctive fitness and wellness offerings. Olayan is working with development partner RXR Realty on the revitalization of 550 Madison. Both firms have deep experience preserving and modernizing historic and landmark buildings in the US and internationally, includingthe iconic Helmsley Building, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, and the Starrett-Lehigh Building in New York City. AECOM Tishman is the Construction Manager for the revitalization of 550 Madison. CBRE is the exclusive leasing agent for the building.  Rendering of the showcase retail space now on the market at 550 Madison. The post Olayan lands Chubb as 550 Madison anchor appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyNov 18th, 2021

A New Generation of Nuclear Reactors Could Hold the Key to a Green Future

On a conference-room whiteboard in the heart of Silicon Valley, Jacob DeWitte sketches his startup’s first product. In red marker, it looks like a beer can in a Koozie, stuck with a crazy straw. In real life, it will be about the size of a hot tub, and made from an array of exotic materials,… On a conference-room whiteboard in the heart of Silicon Valley, Jacob DeWitte sketches his startup’s first product. In red marker, it looks like a beer can in a Koozie, stuck with a crazy straw. In real life, it will be about the size of a hot tub, and made from an array of exotic materials, like zirconium and uranium. Under carefully controlled conditions, they will interact to produce heat, which in turn will make electricity—1.5 megawatts’ worth, enough to power a neighborhood or a factory. DeWitte’s little power plant will run for a decade without refueling and, amazingly, will emit no carbon. ”It’s a metallic thermal battery,” he says, coyly. But more often DeWitte calls it by another name: a nuclear reactor. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Fission isn’t for the faint of heart. Building a working reactor—even a very small one—requires precise and painstaking efforts of both engineering and paper pushing. Regulations are understandably exhaustive. Fuel is hard to come by—they don’t sell uranium at the Gas-N-Sip. But DeWitte plans to flip the switch on his first reactor around 2023, a mere decade after co-founding his company, Oklo. After that, they want to do for neighborhood nukes what Tesla has done for electric cars: use a niche and expensive first version as a stepping stone toward cheaper, bigger, higher-volume products. In Oklo’s case, that means starting with a “microreactor” designed for remote communities, like Alaskan villages, currently dependent on diesel fuel trucked, barged or even flown in, at an exorbitant expense. Then building more and incrementally larger reactors until their zero-carbon energy source might meaningfully contribute to the global effort to reduce fossil-fuel emissions. At global climate summits, in the corridors of Congress and at statehouses around the U.S., nuclear power has become the contentious keystone of carbon reduction plans. Everyone knows they need it. But no one is really sure they want it, given its history of accidents. Or even if they can get it in time to reach urgent climate goals, given how long it takes to build. Oklo is one of a growing handful of companies working to solve those problems by putting reactors inside safer, easier-to-build and smaller packages. None of them are quite ready to scale to market-level production, but given the investments being made into the technology right now, along with an increasing realization that we won’t be able to shift away from fossil fuels without nuclear power, it’s a good bet that at least one of them becomes a game changer. If existing plants are the energy equivalent of a 2-liter soda bottle, with giant, 1,000-megawatt-plus reactors, Oklo’s strategy is to make reactors by the can. The per-megawatt construction costs might be higher, at least at first. But producing units in a factory would give the company a chance to improve its processes and to lower costs. Oklo would pioneer a new model. Nuclear plants need no longer be bet-the-company big, even for giant utilities. Venture capitalists can get behind the potential to scale to a global market. And climate hawks should fawn over a zero-carbon energy option that complements burgeoning supplies of wind and solar power. Unlike today’s plants, which run most efficiently at full blast, making it challenging for them to adapt to a grid increasingly powered by variable sources (not every day is sunny, or windy), the next generation of nuclear technology wants to be more flexible, able to respond quickly to ups and downs in supply and demand. Engineering these innovations is hard. Oklo’s 30 employees are busy untangling the knots of safety and complexity that sent the cost of building nuclear plants to the stratosphere and all but halted their construction in the U.S. ”If this technology was brand-‘new’—like if fission was a recent breakthrough out of a lab, 10 or 15 years ago—we’d be talking about building our 30th reactor,” DeWitte says. But fission is an old, and fraught, technology, and utility companies are scrambling now to keep their existing gargantuan nuclear plants open. Economically, they struggle to compete with cheap natural gas, along with wind and solar, often subsidized by governments. Yet climate-focused nations like France and the U.K. that had planned to phase out nuclear are instead doubling down. (In October, French President Emmanuel Macron backed off plans to close 14 reactors, and in November, he announced the country would instead start building new ones.) At the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, the U.S. announced its support for Poland, Kenya, Ukraine, Brazil, Romania and Indonesia to develop their own new nuclear plants—while European negotiators assured that nuclear energy counts as “green.” All the while, Democrats and Republicans are (to everyone’s surprise) often aligned on nuclear’s benefits—and, in many cases, putting their powers of the purse behind it, both to keep old plants open in the U.S. and speed up new technologies domestically and overseas. It makes for a decidedly odd moment in the life of a technology that already altered the course of one century, and now wants to make a difference in another. There are 93 operating nuclear reactors in the U.S.; combined, they supply 20% of U.S. electricity, and 50% of its carbon-free electricity. Nuclear should be a climate solution, satisfying both technical and economic needs. But while the existing plants finally operate with enviable efficiency (after 40 years of working out the kinks), the next generation of designs is still a decade away from being more than a niche player in our energy supply. Everyone wants a steady supply of electricity, without relying on coal. Nuclear is paradoxically right at hand, and out of reach. For that to change, “new nuclear” has to emerge before the old nuclear plants recede. It has to keep pace with technological improvements in other realms, like long-term energy storage, where each incremental improvement increases the potential for renewables to supply more of our electricity. It has to be cheaper than carbon-capture technologies, which would allow flexible gas plants to operate without climate impacts (but are still too expensive to build at scale). And finally it has to arrive before we give up—before the spectre of climate catastrophe creates a collective “doomerism,” and we stop trying to change. Not everyone thinks nuclear can reinvent itself in time. “When it comes to averting the imminent effects of climate change, even the cutting edge of nuclear technology will prove to be too little, too late,” predicts Allison Macfarlane, former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)—the government agency singularly responsible for permitting new plants. Can a stable, safe, known source of energy rise to the occasion, or will nuclear be cast aside as too expensive, too risky and too late? J R Eyerman—The LIFE Picture Collection/ShutterstockLaboratory personnel developing a fusion device in Project Sherwood at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1958 Trying Again Nuclear began in a rush. In 1942, in the lowest mire of World War II, the U.S. began the Manhattan Project, the vast effort to develop atomic weapons. It employed 130,000 people at secret sites across the country, the most famous of which was Los Alamos Laboratory, near Albuquerque, N.M., where Robert Oppenheimer led the design and construction of the first atomic bombs. DeWitte, 36, grew up nearby. Even as a child of the ’90s, he was steeped in the state’s nuclear history, and preoccupied with the terrifying success of its engineering and the power of its materials. “It’s so incredibly energy dense,” says DeWitte. “A golf ball of uranium would power your entire life!” DeWitte has taken that bromide almost literally. He co-founded Oklo in 2013 with Caroline Cochran, while both were graduate students in nuclear engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When they arrived in Cambridge, Mass., in 2007 and 2008, the nuclear industry was on a precipice. Then presidential candidate Barack Obama espoused a new eagerness to address climate change by reducing carbon emissions—which at the time meant less coal, and more nuclear. (Wind and solar energy were still a blip.) It was an easy sell. In competitive power markets, nuclear plants were profitable. The 104 operating reactors in the U.S. at the time were running smoothly. There hadn’t been a major accident since Chernobyl, in 1986. The industry excitedly prepared for a “nuclear renaissance.” At the peak of interest, the NRC had applications for 30 new reactors in the U.S. Only two would be built. The cheap natural gas of the fracking boom began to drive down electricity prices, razing nuclear’s profits. Newly subsidized renewables, like wind and solar, added even more electricity generation, further saturating the markets. When on March 11, 2011, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami rolled over Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, leading to the meltdown of all three of its reactors and the evacuation of 154,000 people, the industry’s coffin was fully nailed. Not only would there be no renaissance in the U.S, but the existing plants had to justify their safety. Japan shut down 46 of its 50 operating reactors. Germany closed 11 of its 17. The U.S. fleet held on politically, but struggled to compete economically. Since Fukushima, 12 U.S. reactors have begun decommissioning, with three more planned. At MIT, Cochran and DeWitte—who were teaching assistants together for a nuclear reactor class in 2009, and married in 2011—were frustrated by the setback. ”It was like, There’re all these cool technologies out there. Let’s do something with it,” says Cochran. But the nuclear industry has never been an easy place for innovators. In the U.S., its operational ranks have long been dominated by “ring knockers”—the officer corps of the Navy’s nuclear fleet, properly trained in the way things are done, but less interested in doing them differently. Governments had always kept a tight grip on nuclear; for decades, the technology was under shrouds. The personal computing revolution, and then the wild rise of the Internet, further drained engineering talent. From DeWitte and Cochran’s perspective, the nuclear-energy industry had already ossified by the time Fukushima and fracking totally brought things to a halt. “You eventually got to the point where it’s like, we have to try something different,” DeWitte says. He and Cochran began to discreetly convene their MIT classmates for brainstorming sessions. Nuclear folks tend to be dogmatic about their favorite method of splitting atoms, but they stayed agnostic. “I didn’t start thinking we had to do everything differently,” says DeWitte. Rather, they had a hunch that marginal improvements might yield major results, if they could be spread across all of the industry’s usual snags—whether regulatory approaches, business models, the engineering of the systems themselves, or the challenge of actually constructing them. In 2013, Cochran and DeWitte began to rent out the spare room in their Cambridge home on Airbnb. Their first guests were a pair of teachers from Alaska. The remote communities they taught in were dependent on diesel fuel for electricity, brought in at enormous cost. That energy scarcity created an opportunity: in such an environment, even a very expensive nuclear reactor might still be cheaper than the current system. The duo targeted a price of $100 per megawatt hour, more than double typical energy costs. They imagined using this high-cost early market as a pathway to scale their manufacturing. They realized that to make it work economically, they wouldn’t have to reinvent the reactor technology, only the production and sales processes. They decided to own their reactors and supply electricity, rather than supply the reactors themselves—operating more like today’s solar or wind developers. “It’s less about the technology being different,” says DeWitte, “than it is about approaching the entire process differently.” That maverick streak raised eyebrows among nuclear veterans—and cash from Silicon Valley venture capitalists, including a boost from Y Combinator, where companies like Airbnb and Instacart got their start. In the eight years since, Oklo has distinguished itself from the competition by thinking smaller and moving faster. There are others competing in this space: NuScale, based in Oregon, is working to commercialize a reactor similar in design to existing nuclear plants, but constructed in 60-megawatt modules. TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates in 2006, has plans for a novel technology that uses its heat for energy storage, rather than to spin a turbine, which makes it an even more flexible option for electric grids that increasingly need that pliability. And X-energy, a Maryland-based firm that has received substantial funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, is developing 80-megawatt reactors that can also be grouped into “four-packs,” bringing them closer in size to today’s plants. Yet all are still years—and a billion dollars—away from their first installations. Oklo brags that its NRC application is 20 times shorter than NuScale’s, and its proposal cost 100 times less to develop. (Oklo’s proposed reactor would produce one-fortieth the power of NuScale’s.) NRC accepted Oklo’s application for review in March 2020, and regulations guarantee that process will be complete within three years. Oklo plans to power on around 2023, at a site at the Idaho National Laboratory, one of the U.S.’s oldest nuclear-research sites, and so already approved for such efforts. Then comes the hard part: doing it again and again, booking enough orders to justify building a factory to make many more reactors, driving costs down, and hoping politicians and activists worry more about the menace of greenhouse gases than the hazards of splitting atoms. Nuclear-industry veterans remain wary. They have seen this all before. Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor, first approved by the NRC in 2005, was touted as the flagship technology of Obama’s nuclear renaissance. It promised to be safer and simpler, using gravity rather than electricity-driven pumps to cool the reactor in case of an emergency—in theory, this would mitigate the danger of power outages, like the one that led to the Fukushima disaster. Its components could be constructed at a centralized location, and then shipped in giant pieces for assembly. But all that was easier said than done. Westinghouse and its contractors struggled to manufacture the components according to nuclear’s mega-exacting requirements and in the end, only one AP1000 project in the U.S. actually happened: the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Georgia. Approved in 2012, its two reactors were expected at the time to cost $14 billion and be completed in 2016 and 2017, but costs have ballooned to $25 billion. The first will open, finally, next year. Oklo and its competitors insist things are different this time, but they have yet to prove it. “Because we haven’t built one of them yet, we can promise that they’re not going to be a problem to build,” quips Gregory Jaczko, a former NRC chair who has since become the technology’s most biting critic. “So there’s no evidence of our failure.” Georg Zinsler—Anzenberger/Redu​xA guided tour in the control room of reactor No. 2 inside the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant The Challenge The cooling tower of the Hope Creek nuclear plant rises 50 stories above Artificial Island, New Jersey, built up on the marshy edge of the Delaware River. The three reactors here—one belonging to Hope Creek, and two run by the Salem Generating Station, which shares the site—generate an astonishing 3,465 megawatts of electricity, or roughly 40% of New Jersey’s total supply. Construction began in 1968, and was completed in 1986. Their closest human neighbors are across the river in Delaware. Otherwise the plant is surrounded by protected marshlands, pocked with radiation sensors and the occasional guard booth. Of the 1,500 people working here, around 100 are licensed reactor operators—a special designation given by the NRC, and held by fewer than 4,000 people in the country. Among the newest in their ranks is Judy Rodriguez, an Elizabeth, N.J., native and another MIT grad. “Do I have your permission to enter?” she asks the operator on duty in the control room for the Salem Two reactor, which came online in 1981 and is capable of generating 1,200 megawatts of power. The operator opens a retractable belt barrier, like at an airport, and we step across a thick red line in the carpet. A horseshoe-shaped gray cabinet holds hundreds of buttons, glowing indicators and blinking lights, but a red LED counter at the center of the wall shows the most important number in the room: 944 megawatts, the amount of power the Salem Two reactor was generating that afternoon in September. Beside it is a circular pattern of square indicator lights showing the uranium fuel assemblies inside the core, deep inside the concrete domed containment building a couple hundred yards away. Salem Two has 764 of these constructions; each is about 6 inches sq and 15 ft. tall. They contain the source of the reactor’s energy, which are among the most guarded and controlled materials on earth. To make sure no one working there forgets that fact, a phrase is painted on walls all around the plant: “Line of Sight to the Reactor.” As the epitome of critical infrastructure, this station has been buffeted by the crises the U.S. has suffered in the past few decades. After 9/11, the three reactors here absorbed nearly $100 million in security upgrades. Everyone entering the plant passes through metal- and explosives detectors, and radiation detectors on the way out. Walking between the buildings entails crossing a concrete expanse beneath high bullet resistant enclosures (BREs). The plant has a guard corp that has more members than any in New Jersey besides the state police, and federal NRC rules mean that they don’t have to abide by state limitations on automatic weapons. The scale and complexity of the operation is staggering—and expensive. ”The place you’re sitting at right now costs us about $1.5 million to $2 million a day to run,” says Ralph Izzo, president and CEO of PSEG, New Jersey’s public utility company, which owns and operates the plants. “If those plants aren’t getting that in market, that’s a rough pill to swallow.” In 2019, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities agreed to $300 million in annual subsidies to keep the three reactors running. The justification is simple: if the state wants to meet its carbon-reduction goals, keeping the plants online is essential, given that they supply 90% of the state’s zero-carbon energy. In September, the Illinois legislature came to the same conclusion as New Jersey, approving almost $700 million over five years to keep two existing nuclear plants open. The bipartisan infrastructure bill includes $6 billion in additional support (along with nearly $10 billion for development of future reactors). Even more is expected in the broader Build Back Better bill. These subsidies—framed in both states as “carbon mitigation credits”—acknowledge the reality that nuclear plants cannot, on their own terms, compete economically with natural gas or coal. “There has always been a perception of this technology that never was matched by reality,” says Jaczko. The subsidies also show how climate change has altered the equation, but not decisively enough to guarantee nuclear’s future. Lawmakers and energy companies are coming to terms with nuclear’s new identity as clean power, deserving of the same economic incentives as solar and wind. Operators of existing plants want to be compensated for producing enormous amounts of carbon free energy, according to Josh Freed, of Third Way, a Washington, D.C., think tank that champions nuclear power as a climate solution. “There’s an inherent benefit to providing that, and it should be paid for.” For the moment, that has brought some assurance to U.S. nuclear operators of their future prospects. “A megawatt of zero-carbon electricity that’s leaving the grid is no different from a new megawatt of zero carbon electricity coming onto the grid,” says Kathleen Barrón, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs and public policy at Exelon, the nation’s largest operator of nuclear reactors. Globally, nations are struggling with the same equation. Germany and Japan both shuttered many of their plants after the Fukushima disaster, and saw their progress at reducing carbon emissions suffer. Germany has not built new renewables fast enough to meet its electricity needs, and has made up the gap with dirty coal and natural gas imported from Russia. Japan, under international pressure to move more aggressively to meet its carbon targets, announced in October that it would work to restart its reactors. “Nuclear power is indispensable when we think about how we can ensure a stable and affordable electricity supply while addressing climate change,” said Koichi Hagiuda, Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry, at an October news conference. China is building more new nuclear reactors than any other country, with plans for as many as 150 by the 2030s, at an estimated cost of nearly half a trillion dollars. Long before that, in this decade, China will overtake the U.S. as the operator of the world’s largest nuclear-energy system. Francesca Todde—contrasto/Redux Civaux nuclear power plant, in Civaux, France, May 2018 The future won’t be decided by choosing between nuclear or solar power. Rather, it’s a technically and economically complicated balance of adding as much renewable energy as possible while ensuring a steady supply of electricity. At the moment, that’s easy. “There is enough opportunity to build renewables before achieving penetration levels that we’re worried about the grid having stability,” says PSEG’s Izzo. New Jersey, for its part, is aiming to add 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035—or about the equivalent of six new Salem-sized reactors. The technology to do that is readily at hand—Kansas alone has about that much wind power installed already. The challenge comes when renewables make up a greater proportion of the electricity supply—or when the wind stops blowing. The need for “firm” generation becomes more crucial. “You cannot run our grid solely on the basis of renewable supply,” says Izzo. “One needs an interseasonal storage solution, and no one has come up with an economic interseasonal storage solution.” Existing nuclear’s best pitch—aside from the very fact it exists already—is its “capacity factor,” the industry term for how often a plant meets its full energy making potential. For decades, nuclear plants struggled with outages and long maintenance periods. Today, improvements in management and technology make them more likely to run continuously—or “breaker to breaker”—between planned refuelings, which usually occur every 18 months, and take about a month. At Salem and Hope Creek, PSEG hangs banners in the hallways to celebrate each new record run without a maintenance breakdown. That improvement stretches across the industry. “If you took our performance back in the mid-’70s, and then look at our performance today, it’s equivalent to having built 30 new reactors,” says Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s main lobbying organization. That improved reliability has become its major calling card today. Over the next 20 years, nuclear plants will need to develop new tricks. “One of the new words in our vocabulary is flexibility,” says Marilyn Kray, vice president of nuclear strategy and development at Exelon, which operates 21 reactors. “Flexibility not only in the existing plants, but in the designs of the emerging ones, to make them even more flexible and adaptable to complement renewables.” Smaller plants can adapt more easily to the grid, but they can also serve new customers, like providing energy directly to factories, steel mills or desalination plants. Bringing those small plants into operation could be worth it, but it won’t be easy.”You can’t just excuse away the thing that’s at the center of all of it, which is it’s just a hard technology to build,” says Jaczko, the former NRC chair. “It’s difficult to make these plants, it’s difficult to design them, it’s difficult to engineer them, it’s difficult to construct them. At some point, that’s got to be the obvious conclusion to this technology.” But the equally obvious conclusion is we can no longer live without it. “The reality is, you have to really squint to see how you get to net zero without nuclear,” says Third Way’s Freed. “There’s a lot of wishful thinking, a lot of fingers crossed.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 16th, 2021

Former Ben & Jerry"s CEO sells Golden mansion for $5 million (Photos)

The former CEO of Ben & Jerry's and Boulder-based Wild Oats Markets has sold his Golden-area estate for $5.03 million. The 13,919-square-foot mansion set on 35 acres traded hands on Oct. 29, according to public records. The eight-bedroom, 10-bathroom residence at 22101 Bear Tooth Drive in unincorporated Jefferson County went on the market for the first time since 2001 in September 2020 with a $5.5 million asking price. The home was last purchased by Perry Odak in 2001 for $6.2 million, records….....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 12th, 2021

Bull of the Day: Churchill Downs Incorporated (CHDN)

The historic horse racing icon is poised to post strong growth as the in-person economy returns and the broader sports gambling world grows in popularity after the key 2018 Supreme Court ruling... Churchill Downs Incorporated CHDN stock has destroyed the broader market and its gaming industry peers over the last five years. The historic horse racing icon is poised to post strong growth as the in-person economy returns and the broader sports gambling world grows in popularity after the key 2018 Supreme Court ruling.Beyond the TrackChurchill Downs is a top racing, online wagering, and gaming entertainment firm most famous for the Kentucky Derby horse race. The company owns and operates three pari-mutuel gaming entertainment venues in Kentucky and it continues to grow its portfolio.The firm’s TwinSpires segment is one of the largest and most profitable online horse race wagering, online sportsbook, and iGaming platforms in the U.S. On top of that, Churchill Downs has a significant presence in the brick-and-mortar casino world across eight states. This includes roughly 11,000 slot machines and video lottery terminals, alongside 200 table games.Churchill Downs and the entire sports-focused betting industry have benefited from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision that cleared the way for states to legalize sports gambling outside of Nevada. Sports betting is now legal in more than two dozen states, though many are still limited to in-person betting—around a dozen states currently have legalized online sports gambling.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchRecent Growth and Outlook CHDN revenue did fall 21% last year amid a covid-hurt stretch that forced the firm to run races without fans, including the 146th Kentucky Derby. The fall came after it posted 32% sales growth in 2019 and 14% in 2018. Luckily, the company has flexed its muscles amid the economic reopening.The firm’s Q2 revenue skyrocketed 178% against an easy-to-compare period last year. Most recently, Churchill Downs topped our third quarter revenue and adjusted earnings estimates on October 27. CHDN has beaten our EPS estimates by an average of 28% in the trailing three quarters and analysts have upped their bottom-line outlooks since its report.Zacks estimates call for the firm’s revenue to soar 52% from $1.05 billion last year to $1.60 billion in 2021. The climb would see it blow by its pre-covid total of $1.33 billion. And its 2022 sales are then projected to climb another 16% higher to reach $1.86 billion.At the bottom end of the income statement, Churchill Downs earnings are expected to skyrocket 675% to $6.42 a share, before jumping an additional 38% in 2022.Other Fundamentals Churchill Downs at the end of September signed a $197 million agreement to sell its 326-acre property in Arlington Heights, Illinois to the Chicago Bears. Last quarter, it also announced plans for a new 43,000-square-foot entertainment venue called Derby City Gaming Downtown in Louisville, Kentucky.Wall Street was also pleased to hear that the firm’s board authorized a new $500 million stock repurchase plan. And it announced its $0.667 per share annual dividend will payable on January 7, 2022 to shareholders of record on December 3.Churchill Downs shares are have climbed 420% in the last five years to crush the S&P 500’s 130%. CHDN’s run appears even better compared to its Zacks Gaming industry’s 9% climb. The space includes MGM MGM, Penn National PENN, Boyd Gaming BYD, and newer members such as DraftKings DKNG.CHDN stock has cooled off over the past year, though it’s still up 32% to roughly match the S&P 500. This run includes a huge downturn that began in early March as Wall Street dumped big pandemic winners. Its subsequent resurgence saw it post new records in mid-October.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchChurchill Downs stock reached overbought RSI levels (70 or higher) around then and its recent downturn has pushed it below neutral at 47—even as the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY climbs further into overbought territory.In terms of valuation, the stock is trading below its year-long median and at a 40% discount to its highs over this stretch at 28.4X forward 12-month earnings. This also represents a massive discount against its industry’s whopping 139X average.Bottom LineChurchill Downs currently lands a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) based on its solid upward earnings revision activity that’s particularly strong for FY22. The company also grabs a “B” grade for Growth in our Style Scores system. Plus, all five of the brokerage recommendations Zacks has for CHDN are “Strong Buys.”The stock closed regular hours Monday roughly 9% below its records at $238.10 a share. And its current Zacks consensus price target of $276.17 per share represents 16% upside to its current levels. With all of this in mind, investors might want to consider Churchill Downs as a play on the quickly expanding sports gaming market. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report MGM Resorts International (MGM): Free Stock Analysis Report Boyd Gaming Corporation (BYD): Free Stock Analysis Report SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY): ETF Research Reports Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PENN): Free Stock Analysis Report Churchill Downs, Incorporated (CHDN): Free Stock Analysis Report DraftKings Inc. (DKNG): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 9th, 2021

Federal Realty (FRT) Tops Q3 FFO Estimates, Raises 2021 View

Federal Realty's (FRT) Q3 results reflect better-than-anticipated revenues. The retail REIT also raised its 2021 FFO per share outlook. Federal Realty Investment Trust’s FRT third-quarter 2021 funds from operations (FFO) per share of $1.51 surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.28. This also compares favorably with the year-ago quarter’s tally of $1.12.Results reflect better-than-anticipated revenues. The retail REIT also raised its guidance for 2021 and 2022 FFO per share.Quarterly revenues of $247.3 million topped the consensus mark of $229.7 million and improved the year-ago tally by 18.8%.According to Donald C. Wood, the company’s chief executive officer, "Collections have improved dramatically, new and exciting retail and office tenants are committing to long term leases at a very brisk pace, and our development and acquisition pipeline have never been more active. We're more confident than ever that the places we create and the markets that we're in are spot on in a post COVID world."It also collected about 96% of total third-quarter 2021 billed recurring rents as of Oct 29, 2021.Quarter in DetailsDuring the reported quarter, Federal Realty signed 124 leases for 481,607 square feet of the retail space. On a comparable space basis, the company signed 119 leases for 430,234 square feet of space at an average rent of $40.73 per square foot. This denotes cash-basis rollover growth of 7%, 16% on a straight-line basis.As of Sep 30, REIT’s portfolio was 90.2% occupied, denoting a sequential expansion of 60 basis points. The company reported a 260-basis-point spread between leased and occupied.During the third quarter, Federal Realty acquired Twinbrooke Shopping Centre in Fairfax, VA, taking the COVID-era off-market acquisitions total to 5 properties, 1.9 million square feet and 135 acres.Balance SheetFederal Realty exited third-quarter 2021 with cash and cash equivalents of $177.6 million, down from $798.3 million recorded at the end of 2020. Along with the undrawn availability under its $1 billion revolving-credit facility, the company’s liquidity amounted to $1.2 billion.OutlookFederal Realty raised its guidance for both 2021 and 2022. For 2021, the company now projects FFO per share of $5.45-$5.50 compared with $5.05-$5.15 guided earlier. The current guidance is ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $5.16.For 2022, REIT now estimates FFO per share of $5.65-$5.85 compared with $5.30-$5.50 projected earlier. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the same is currently pinned at $5.53.Dividend UpdateConcurrent with the third-quarter earnings release, Federal Realty announced a regular quarterly cash dividend of $1.07 per share, which indicates an annual rate of $4.28 per share. The dividend will be paid out on Jan 18, to shareholders of record as of Jan 3, 2022.Federal Realty currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Federal Realty Investment Trust Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise Federal Realty Investment Trust price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Federal Realty Investment Trust QuotePerformance of Other Retail REITsSimon Property Group, Inc.’s SPG FFO per share of $3.13 exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.47 in the September-end quarter. This performance was backed by better-than-projected top-line growth. The retail REIT behemoth also raised the 2021 FFO per share outlook based on its results in the year so far and expectations for the rest of the year. It also announced a hike in the quarterly dividend.Realty Income Corporation’s O third-quarter 2021 adjusted funds from operations (AFFO) per share of 89 cents missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 92 cents. However, the reported figure compared favorably with the prior-year quarter’s 82 cents displayed better-than-expected improvement in revenues. The retail REIT also raised its 2021 AFFO per share guidance and increased the 2021 acquisition volume projection to more than $5 billion.Macerich Company MAC delivered better-than-expected adjusted funds from operations (FFO) per share on solid top-line growth. The retail REIT reported FFO per share of 45 cents, excluding financing expenses in relation to Chandler Freehold and loss on extinguishment of debt, which exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 43 cents. It has also raised the 2021 FFO per share guidance.Note: Anything related to earnings presented in this write-up represent funds from operations (FFO) — a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Simon Property Group, Inc. (SPG): Free Stock Analysis Report Macerich Company The (MAC): Free Stock Analysis Report Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRT): Free Stock Analysis Report Realty Income Corporation (O): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 8th, 2021

The 6 best Christmas and holiday lights in 2021

Christmas lights come in a variety of styles. Whether you like solar-powered, LED, or old-fashioned string lights, here are the best holiday lights. Twinkly Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky Holiday lights bring feelings of warmth and cheer even on the darkest and coldest days of the year. We rounded up the best lights for a variety of uses, including indoor or outdoor decorating. For colorful lights, go with the GE StayBright lights to decorate large areas with ease. The holidays are coming up soon, and now is the time to start thinking about which kinds of holiday lights you're going to decorate your home with. All those hours spent decorating come with a fair share of frustrations, though, from blown bulbs to overloaded circuits. With those unhappy occurrences in mind, we worked to assemble a buying guide filled with holiday lights that not only look great but also make your life easier.Along with a couple of classic plug-in options, this guide features lights that are both solar- and battery-powered. We have lights controlled via a handheld remote or app and some beamed out of a projector.If those old strands of tiny incandescent bulbs you have tangled up in boxes have celebrated their last Christmas, upgrade your light game this season with these great holiday lights.Here are the best holiday lights:Best overall lights: GE StayBright Multicolor LED Christmas String LightsBest battery-powered lights: Home Accents Fairy LED Battery-Operated Light StringBest large-bulb lights: Christmas Lights Etc. Opaque Multicolor Christmas LightsBest smart lights: Twinkly Smart LED String LightsBest light projector: LedMall RGB Laser Christmas LightsBest solar holiday lights: Vmanoo Solar Powered String Lights Best lights overall Lowe's  The GE StayBright Multicolor LED Christmas String Lights are a classic set of colorful Christmas lights with a modern, eco-friendly twist.Pros: Bright LED lights, energy-efficient, up to 20,000 hours of lightingCons: No built-in timerThese mini, multicolored Christmas lights are perfect for indoor or outdoor use. The GE StayBright lights come with two sets of strands with 150 lights on each for a total of 300 lights at 74.5 feet long. The extra length is ideal for stretching across a long roofline or tall Christmas tree. The versatility and longevity of these lights are two of the best reasons to invest in one or two sets. With up to 20,000 hours of lighting time, you likely won't need replacements for decades. Plus, the transparent LED bulbs make the lights shine vibrantly. An upgrade from traditional Christmas lights, the GE StayBright lights are energy-efficient and shouldn't increase your light bill dramatically. The lights are also safety certified to give you peace of mind when they're in use. Best battery-powered lights The Home Depot The Home Accents Fairy LED Battery-Operated Light String is battery-powered, so once it's in place, you can look forward to effortless enjoyment.Pros: Battery power lasts many days, multi-colored, great priceCons: 26-foot strand too short for some applications, does not come with a remoteOne of the worst things about holiday lights is the fact that you have to plug them in every time you want them to light up and unplug them when you want them to go dark — unless you have a timer. The Home Accents Fairy Light String is a solid solution for those looking for hassle-free Christmas lights.The Home Accents lights are powered by three AA batteries, and when only lit for a few hours each night, these three batteries will keep the lights aglow for days. The timer can be set to turn on and off at specific times. These lights also have the ability to change patterns with options for waves, slow glow, flashes, twinkle, slow fade, and more. The set of lights stay cool and are safe for use on an indoor tree and are water-resistant, so they're suitable for outdoor hanging. Best large-bulb lights Christmas Lights Etc. The large, softly glowing, colorful bulbs of the Opaque Multicolor Christmas Lights look just like something out of a classic film.Pros: Classic vintage charm, bright lights visible from a distance, easy bulb changesCons: Short strand length, glow much warmer than LEDsSure, LED bulbs are bright, energy-efficient, cool to the touch, and last for years. But you have to admit there's something so warm and comforting about classic incandescent bulb holiday lights — especially those oversized bulbs known as C7 bulbs.The Opaque Multicolor Christmas lights are retro-style lights with frosted bulbs for nostalgic Christmas light decorating. The individual strand measures 25 feet long, a great length for an indoor tree though a bit short for use outdoors unless you're willing to buy a few strands. Up to three strings can be attached together, so the maximum length can be 75 feet, which is something to consider when decorating a space. These lights can last for years, albeit with an occasional bulb swap needed. Doing so is easy, though. It's just like changing a standard light bulb. Best smart lights Malarie Gokey/Business Insider Twinkly's smart LED string lights connect with an app so you can control the color scheme and turn them on and off with your phone or your voice.Pros: Easy to set up and use, voice control supported by Alexa and Google Assistant, programmable lights, fun to make your own designsCons: Expensive, app can be glitchyTwinkly's LED string lights are fully customizable, thanks to an easy-to-use app that lets you program your lights. You can choose between a wide range of pre-made light effects so your tree will twinkle like stars, display a heart, look like a glittery candy cane, or show off a pulsing rainbow. There's even a dongle you can add to synchronize your lights to music.You can also go simple and choose solid colors or make your own mix in the app. The options are basically endless with more than 16 million colors to choose from. The LED lights are bright and vibrant, too, making any color combination look gorgeous.The lights were easy to set up in our tests. It's as easy as plugging the lights in, downloading the app, and following the on-screen directions to connect your lights via Bluetooth or WiFi. While the app is straightforward to navigate, our home editor, Jenny McGrath, has had some connectivity problems and issues with it crashing.I set the lights up with my home's WiFi network so that I can control them remotely and with my voice. To enable voice control, I followed the instructions in the Alexa app to connect the lights to my Echo in just a few minutes. Now I can turn them on or off in the app or with my voice. Overall, the smart lights are easy to use, mainly because the app is so user friendly.The 250-light strand perfectly covered my 7.5-foot tree, but depending on how densely packed you want the lights to be, you may need more lights. Twinkly sells several different smart light strands, so you can choose whichever ones are best for your needs.Even when on sale, these lights are more expensive than ordinary lights, but if you want full customizability, voice control, and all the smart features included here, it'll be worth it. If not, grab a strand of normal lights and a smart outlet, like this one from Belkin. — Malarie Gokey, lead training coordinator  Best holiday light projector Amazon The remote-controlled LedMall RGB Laser Christmas Lights shines 18 holiday patterns on your home with a simple point and click. Pros: Easy setup, remote control operationCons: Lacks charm of actual strands of lights, higher price pointHoliday laser light decorations aren't for everyone. But falling off of ladders, searching for that one burnt-out bulb, and realizing you don't have a long enough extension cord to connect the light strands to the outlet? That stuff isn't for everyone, either. A projector displaying festive lights on your home is quite an attractive alternative. The LedMall RGB Laser Christmas Lights make decorating your house a quick task. You plant the projector in the ground using its included stake and aim it at your house. Plug it in, then turn it on; that's all there is to it. You might need to move the projector closer to or farther from the walls a few times as you work to find the perfect coverage. It works for spaces up to 2,500 square feet.There are 18 different holiday patterns to choose from, including trees, Santa, snowflakes, twinkling stars, candy canes, jingle bells, and even some for Halloween. The only colors projected are red, green, and blue, either as a combination or in single colors.  Best solar-powered holiday lights Amazon Once you have your Vmanoo Solar Powered String Lights set up, they are 100% hands-off until it's time to take them down again.Pros: No outlet or batteries needed, sensor turns lights on or off, available in multiple colorsCons: Limited shine duration per chargeOnce you put up the Vmanoo Solar Powered String Lights, you don't have to think about them again until it's time to put them away after the holidays.The lights are 100% solar-powered, requiring no proximity to an outlet, no battery swaps, and no programming with a timer or searching for a remote control, either. The lights have a sensor that automatically turns them on once the ambient light is low enough. They have an approximate eight-hour run time per charge. Even with a 4:30 p.m. sunset, the lights will still be aglow well after midnight. With Vmanoo's 72-foot strand, you should be able to decorate a smaller tree or bush, roofline, or door frame. They come in pale white, warm white, multicolored, and blue so you can choose the exact look you want for your holiday illumination.The one major drawback to these lights is that they're not suitable for indoor use, as they need access to the sun to power up and need it to be dark to power on.  Check out our other great holiday decorating guides Home Accents The best holiday decorations The best tree skirtsThe best artificial Christmas treesThe best Christmas stockings Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 5th, 2021