Friday, June 29, 2007

Four-plus square miles of intermodal

That's one big honking park being planned, and a big plus for the Wilmington area economically. The location near Lorenzo Road generally makes sense. One thought, though: Will this cause enough more traffic that it will bottleneck the bridge over the Des Plaines River? I-55's three lanes are only going as far south as that bridge, I believe.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Litigation replaces sex at middle age

I believe that is a Gore Vidal quote. Here's another reminder of why I'm glad to live in flyover country: mega-rich people arguing, agreeing and then reneging over what appears to be easement rights in the Hamptons. Good grief. Check out the German label in the post (hehehehe).

Opportunistic investing

As I have said here before, I am no particular fan of Donald Trump. But his acquisition of the Running Horse development in Fresno (a proposed site of a PGA Tour event if it is ever finished, IIRC) at a deep discount (though not nearly as he originally wanted) is a sign for opportunistic investors to ramp up to take advantage of a bubble. Here's a link, courtesy of The Real Estate Bloggers (technically competition I suppose, but I don't care). I represent and have represented opportunistic investors for years, so deals like this bode actually bode well for them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Speaking of hotels...and music...

When I was a kid, I used to accompany my father on a weekend-long band gig at the French Lick Springs Resort in southern Indiana. The area is better known these days perhaps as the hometown of Larry Bird. It was pretty run down in the 1970s, as I recall, but you could see it was once beautiful. And there was a Donald Ross golf course to boot.

I was excited to see that French Lick and the unique West Baden Springs Hotel, have been restored to their former glory as one combined resort. They have added a casino and a Pete Dye course is on the way. It looks stunning. But I think it is also very pricey, especially for southern Indiana. And, based on this story about service problems, I think I will wait a while before visiting. That being said, I hope this resort pans out, if for no other reason because I am nostalgic.

Are these dirt guys into music?

Being a musician and all that, I have to wonder whether the buyers of the Hyatt Regency Woodfield are into music. According to the story in today's Tribune, the buyer is The Harp Group, a part of the Crescendo Companies.

I think it is fun when companies use "themes" for their entity structures. For instance, I know one opportunistic fund in Chicago that has a common name for its main entity and then types of that common name for its subsidiaries. Example: main company is Fruit, LLC and the lower tier entities are, Pear, LLC, Mango, LLC, Peach, LLC and so on. I don't want to disclose the entity that does this for privacy reasons, but I always liked it.

This actually brings me to a practice tip: try to be consistent in naming your upper and lower tier entities from deal to deal. It makes documentation easier and reminds you of where each entity is in a chain. If you don't understand, let me know and I'll provide examples.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Not messing around

Construction on the Spire will apparently start within a few weeks. Now, I've seen caissons dug and foundations built only to have the deal go south, but this sure is a great sign. Go Garrett go!

Various Chicago purchases and sales

Here are some links to stories about commentary on the disposition of EOP's Chicago portfolio, the $300 million sale of the old Montgomery Ward warehouse, and the acquisition of 180 N. Michigan, an old but popular building, by Marc Realty with financial backing from Winthrop Realty Trust that, according to Tom Corfman's story, appears to be a JV deal with a remote. I've structured these types of deals before and, for the right building, they can be money-makers for all involved.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lost his pants

This isn't really dirt-related, but I had to express my elation (probably along with the rest of the world) that attorney and administrative law judge Roy Pearson lost his $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner that lost his pants. Apparently the judge in the case is considering whether Pearson should pay the dry cleaner's attorneys' fees to boot. This case, alas, attracted worldwide attention; here is the BBC story on the outcome.

But Lowe's makes a go reports that Lowe's is moving into the southwest side of Chicago with a 20 year ground lease at the venerable and re-positioning Scottsdale Shopping Center at 79th and Cicero, bumping the occupancy rate up to 98%. I like Lowe's. And I like this move. The Ford City shopping district is jammed full of retail now on both sides to the point that traffic can be nightmarish. But this location is at the far south end of the strip, and it will attract people from the south, east and west. Plus you have other retail mixed in. Maybe Home Depot, at the north end for some years now, will capture that traffic, but I'd rather be at the south end.

Bye, Bye, Best Buy.....

Boy, it sure seems that 700 N. Michigan is just one star-crossed vertical shopping center. (For the record, I actually like the place and used to frequent its food court.) Best Buy has decided to terminate lease negotiations, and may look elsewhere, perhaps at the nearby old CompUSA location. I'd like to see BB consider other areas near downtown as well. But the writing is there: it seems people are going to electronics retailers less and less. I know I am.

Friday, June 22, 2007

How low will they go?

Here's an interesting post from The Bloodhound Blog, the gist of which is that, because of the increase in PE fundraising, and because there are megadeals to be had, pressure is moving down into even smaller commercial deals as those funds try to snap up even small deals.
I think this is true to the extent that this means still more market pressure because of still more money chasing deals. But I've represented some fairly sophisticated clients, including opportunistic investors and PE funds, in deals like this for years. Don't think this is a "new" niche, at least for the smarter real estate investors, as the IRRs on these smaller deals have often been nothing short of phenomenal, something you may not always see in the megadeals.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

One for the city, one for the 'burbs...

Yup. Smart move. Blackstone splits the EOP-Chicago portfolio into two buyers, and maximizes value. That is going to be one hectic thirty days to closing, but I guess people are getting used to it at this point.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

$8 billion, do I hear 10? Do I hear $100 billion?

Bloomberg reports that Morgan Stanley has raised $8 billion for a new fund. Private Equity Real Estate (sub. req'd -- also mentioned in the Bloomberg article) reports that Blackstone is well on its way to $10 billion. The PERE story also reports the funds are targeting $100 billion in capital. And Bloomberg reports, citing Private Equity Intelligence Ltd., that 100+ funds are looking for $69 billion, up $5 billion from last year.

Okay, I will admit it: these numbers absolutely boggle my mind.

Roger Staubach retires

I know what some of you football fans might be thinking: Roger Staubach retired a zillion years ago. But the football hall-of-famer is also a real estate hall-of-famer. The Real Estate Bloggers report that Staubach is stepping down as the the CEO of his eponymous mega-firm The Staubach Co. in connection with a recapitalization of the company expected by month's end.

Congratulations, Roger. I may be a Bears fan, but I am also a real estate fan, and you are truly a legend on both fronts.

Nice deal if you can get it

The Village of Bourbonnais cut a very nice deal for Edgemark Realty on Monday night. Apparently, the redevelopment of a shopping center anchored by a new Jewel (and, apparently, an Office Depot where an old Jewel once stood) had some cost overruns because of a UST and ACM (that's underground storage tank and asbestos-containing materials for you civilians). So, the Village forgave Edgemark's $450,000 purchase price for the land where Jewel is now (a former K-Mart site).

I am philosophically opposed to this giveaway for two reasons. First, I don't think government should generally be a backstop for development risk. Second, I'm surprised that the UST and ACM were unforeseen. But maybe that is because of my past experience with buildings almost identical to those in question and where, lo-and-behold, we found a UST and ACM. I've seen enough of their (excellent) projects to have no doubt in my mind that the Edgemark guys are smart and know what they are doing.

In any event, in spite of my philospohical bent, I do give Edgemark a ton of credit for getting a deal like this. Good for them!

Cool project on multiple levels

Hines is looking to develop 200 N. Riverside Plaza with a 50 story, 1 million sf building. Although if this get built it puts a ton of new space online, I like this project for different reasons. First, the legal issues surrounding a deal like this are very complex, and I like that. You have the river and the railroad tracks to consider, complicated constrution issues, major-league anchor tenant lease...the whole kit and kaboodle. I also like it for a selfish reason -- because it is near my Chicago office, which just adds to all the development going on in my neck of the woods. The bad news? I think it will completely block the east views from the roof and third floor of the building where my office is.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More on TIFs

Greg Hinz wrote an interesting op-ed questioning the need for TIF funds for the Old Post Office and Union Station projects when the CTA is doing so poorly. I know the benefits of TIFs, but I also see his point. It comes down to the cost-benefit analysis. And I also wonder how the CTA spends its money. In any event, I encourage you to read the article and form your own opinions.

More on Bandon - some clarifications

I received late last night an e-mail from David Cay Johnston, the author of the New York Times articles on Bandon Dunes about which I wrote last Friday. While I am not going to reprint his message or the full text of my response, I think, after reading his reply, the interests of fairness dictate my making some clarifying points.

1. I was not trying to imply that the Times had anything to do with his story. But I did find it interesting (and therefore posted) that the paper was the recent beneficiary of similar subsidies for its building. I should note for the record that the Times has also published stories about the incentives it received.

2. David is 100% correct in stating that investing in a public company is voluntary while taxes are mandatory. From a public perspective, my personal view is that we need to look into corporate jet trips and the deductibility from corporate taxes of the same. As to the private aspect of the trips, I do not like the practice, and our options are to vote as shareholders to change the policy or to not invest.

3. David's article raises -- implicitly if not explicitly -- an excellent point. We need to do a cost benefit analysis of subsidies of this nature and the resulting effect on property values with or without them.

4. David did his homework and detailed the background research he performed. In the back of my mind I knew he did, but for whatever reason I did come off wondering whether he had. In retrospect, I guess I should not have made this implication.

As I said in my reply to David, reasonable minds can differ on subjects without disliking the other. We differ on some things, but we agree on others. And I respect his writing. So I wish him well, and hope to write again about his work.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Speeding up or slowing down? Which is it?

Crain's says the commercial market is set up for a slowdown, while The Real Estate Bloggers states, citing a report from the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors, that commercial sales are up 62%.
So, which is it? You tell me.

More on subsidies: The pot calls the kettle black

As a follow-up to my post Friday concerning the New York Times reporting about "subsidies" for the rich relating to Bandon Dunes, I thought I should also post to some stories (try here and here, among others) about the new headquarters for the Times. Seems that the whole project was one big subsidy for the paper, including the public condemnation of buildings for a private use, a la Kelo.
So, Pinch Sulzberger and company, as you move into your new glass house, watch where you throw those stones.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cry me a golf course

I have a love-hate relationship with the New York Times. The writing is often superb, but the bias in the stories is sometimes amazing.

Case in point: today's story about Bandon Dunes, the already-legendary golf resort in remote coastal Oregon. The Times has to (a) bellyache about some tax breaks Mike Keiser received in building the course, (b) complain about further "subsidies" to improve the local airport in the way of federal funds and lottery money, (c) bring in a token local who is being hurt by the project and (d) finally, go off on corporations subsidizing plane rides for their executives through the shareholders. Sheesh.

Subsidizing the pet projects of the Times is okay, I guess, but heaven forbid if something beautiful and profitable gets built using tax breaks, and then -- oh, no -- the wealthy (who pay most of the taxes anyway) benefit from it! What is this world coming to? I wonder if this reporter even read Stephen Goodwin's superb book about the making of Bandon Dunes and what had to be overcome to get it done. And the end product is some of the most amazing scenery in the world, with jobs and a world-wide tourist destination created. The horror of it all.

Mike Keiser (who, BTW, made his money as a co-founder of Recycled Paper Greetings) put it best: “Certainly from the recipient point of view, I’m pleased that there is a subsidy and know very well that it is a subsidy that can be changed at any point in time. That is why we have a Congress, to look at things like that.” I will at least credit the Times for not trying to make Keiser look like Gordon Gekko.

Lastly, as for the corporate subsidy? If you don't like a company's policies on travel, then DON'T INVEST IN THE COMPANY! It is that simple. Remember the divestiture movement in South African companies in the 1980s? Hello?

(Full disclosure: I do not know and have never met Mike Keiser, but I do know a member of the Keiser family.)

TICs - PLEASE regulate yourselves....

For my 100th post, I go back to a subject I discussed previously: tenants-in-common. Here's a good story on a recent conference where much was said about the need for self-policing in the tenant-in-common industry. Experts are (rightfully) worried about risk, inefficiency and the need to build a stronger marketplace.

YES! THANK YOU! Some of us have been complaining about this for years now. Please, please, PLEASE govern yourselves before we have another S&L type disaster, which will lead to the government getting involved, meaning less efficiency and more cost.

This is a good step in the right direction. Let's just hope it isn't, as my father used to say, "NATO: no action, talk only."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Avvo, you are wrong. Change your policy.

Larry Bodine's blog reports that, the new website purporting to rate attorneys on a 1-10 scale is refusing to delete profiles of attorneys who do not want to be listed on the site. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. If Avvo wants to gain any respect from the legal community, then it must allow us to opt out of the system should we choose.

While I remain somewhat ambivalent about Avvo for now, others aren't. Lawsuits are on the way. Susan Cartier Liebel (wow, two mentions in a week!) probably has the best anti-Avvo post I've read, and Kevin O'Keefe also has a terrific post about the service, including summaries of the positions of the lawyer preparing a class-action case and that of Avvo's CEO (who also apparently spoke to Kevin recently).

As for me, I still say I am more than a number or letters. I get what Avvo is trying to do, though I'm not sure it will be successful and I have concerns the system can be worked to get a high rating. (Chuck Newton says this is already happening.) Though I may not opt out, I'd feel much better about it if I were able to do so.

So much for 300 N. Michigan

Back in April, Crain's reported that Peebles Corp. was hot to buy 300 N. Michigan Avenue and convert it into a condotel with luxury condo units and the like, notwithstanding a glut of other people already doing it.

Well, it looks like Peebles is joining the conventional wisdom and (wisely, in my opinion) backing out of the deal. The current market needs a little time to absorb the product that is online or in the pipeline, and this could take a while (though I think winning the 2016 Olympics may speed that up a little).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Meanwhile, back in law school...

Applications are dropping again, or so says the National Law Journal. This is three years in a row. The only bright news is that the falloff is only 4.6% instead of 7.4%. Now we need to see enrollments drop. The first-tier schools will always have enough good bodies to fill classes, but the lower-tier schools? Let me tell you that some of the best lawyers I have met went to so-called lower-tier schools, but these schools need to set realistic expectations for their students. They need to say, even though it hurts, that if they dream of working at Cravath, it is almost certainly not going to happen. They'll have big debt and a job paying as much as they might have with a BA (and sometimes even less). There's nothing wrong with that, but students at all levels should go to law school becauzse either (a) they want to parlay that experience (and the accompanying cost) into something meaningful or (b) they love the law. Stop thinking about the money, except to the extent that you need it to pay off loans. Do what you love and the money will follow.

Associate salaries - could a cycle be turning?

When I graduated law school in 1993, associate salaries for recent graduates had just climbed to a whopping $70,000 a year at most of the BigLaw firms in LA and New York. But there were few jobs to be had at all, let alone ones with those kinds of numbers.
A post on this subject by Patrick Lamb today is, in my view, spot on. He cites a recent survey of general counsels by Altman Weil, the results of which can be seen in the post. To sum it up, GCs are not at all happy about recent associate recent salary increases. The backlash? For work that is not "bet the company" in nature, many GCs will turn to firms with quality lawyers at lower rates. (I have already heard grumblings that some Chicago BigLaw lititgation departments are not super busy.) Lacking work, the BigLaw firms, in turn, will cut back summer associate hiring or even look at ways to trim associate ranks, just as happened in the 90s. It's all very Santayanaesque...those who cannot remember the past....

Interesting hotel news

Two stories caught my eye today in the hotel sector.
In the first, Scott McCartney of the Journal (sub. req'd) discusses the impact of $500/night rooms in New York. We're not talking the Ritz or the Four Seasons or the Waldorf, either; we're talking Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton -- nice flags, but not at that price point. Some people -- yours truly included -- will be avoiding overnight stays in Manhattan until that changes.
The other story is a followup to a piece that appeared a few weeks ago about a new JW Marriott in Grand Rapids that was planning to build a floor with a lounge for women only, with special amenities that that chain thought might appeal more to women. Well, apparently after some outcry (and legal concerns!), that idea has been nixed. The "special" rooms will still be built; they'll just be open to both genders. Good move. The next time we're in Grand Rapids (a very nice city, BTW), maybe we'll stay there instead of the (also nice) Residence Inn in the suburbs.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Jenner is the latest de-equitizer...

Read it and weep.

It is happening all over at BigLaw, so I guess it is not unexpected, but I guess I am a little sad about the news. When I was younger, I always thought of Jenner and litigation like I did Arthur Andersen (pre-Enron) and auditing: the gold standard.

But then, for many law is not so much a learned profession anymore as it a business, and I for one lament it. I guess that is why I write this blog: as a reminder that thinking thoughts and musing about the world is okay, even if it affects your bottom line of profits. I'd rather bill fewer hours and enjoy my career and my life. But that's me.

Milstein investing in Jack Nicklaus - great dirt play

This deal is, in my opinion, a stroke of sheer genius, if you'll pardon the bad pun. Real estate billionaire Howard Milstein is buying a chunk of the Jack Nicklaus golf empire, the game's best known brand (sorry, Tiger). This gives Jack money to take cash out and allows the company to have more invested in the dirt of the golf courses it designs. Getting into the actual development end will allow them to reap more profits. Jack's had well-publicized business troubles in the past, including in the mid-1980s, right around the time he won that fabulous sixth Masters in 1986 at age 46, but those days are over. There's discipline and solid investment wisdom now and I think Jack can now laugh all the way to the bank. Since he has always been someone I admire as a professional who prioritized his career with his family, I could not be happier.

Contact Dratfing Tips

I ran across an excellent post from Ken Adams concerning dos and don'ts in contract drafting. I'm not in 100% compliance, and I'm okay with that because I agree with much though not all of what Ken says. I'm about 50% compliant on meaningless language. I use the phrase "representations and warranties" in contracts because that is the custom in my field. But I always limit the scope and duration of those statements. I almost never use the term "best efforts" because it is, in my view, ambiguous. I admittedly use some of what he calls jargon, and it does not bother me that I do. I'm not sure our definitions of jargon are the same. I prefer using the term "will" over "shall" and try to keep it from creeping into my drafting. And I like the idea of document assembly coming into play, but at a reasonable cost.

Thanks to the publishers of this week's Blawg Review, the Legal SEO and Marketing Blog, for pointing out Ken's post.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Shopping the....oh, whatever that outdoor theater in Tinley is called these days....

Here are links to the Sun-Times and Tribune stories on the possible sale of the Tinley Park amphitheater, which I guess is now named after First Midwest Bank.

The property is zoned industrial, and frankly, that would be a higher and better use for the land. As a fair to middling shamateur musician who grew up in the business, I have strong opinions about concert venues, and this is just not a good one in so many different ways. Buy the dirt, tear it down and build a box. The problem is that there is still enough raw dirt in the area that demo and redevelopment costs may be a problem. But I'm not sure there's enough money to turn that facility into something I'd call a good concert venue.

More on Avvo - working out the bugs

Here's more from Larry Bodine on Avvo and some problems and weird ratings. Apparently, Abraham Lincoln and Clarence Darrow are listed. (Why? A plausible explanation: the Illinois ARDC lists all deceased lawyers in the register, too.) The Solicitor General has the same rating that I do. (No argument from me.) And disbarred lawyers and felons have higher ratings than me. (Argument from me there.) Presumably the bugs will work themselves out, but here's another reason the number system just troubles me, at least for now.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Rest in Peace, Tony

I was sad to see that the founder of Drury Lane Theater, Tony De Santis, died yesterday of natural causes at age 93. He was running his shows almost until the end. I didn't know him, but my father worked for him in the 70s, and he always said Tony was a class act.

Why is this relevant in a blog about Chicago real estate? Take a look at the Drury Lane locations, past and present. Primo real estate. The original Drury Lane/Martinque was turned into a retail center a few years ago. I understand he had many other investments of this nature and may have made more money in dirt than under the lights.

God bless him.

Why didn't we have this in law school?

Susan Cartier Liebel wrote an excellent post about her teaching a law school class for aspiring solo practitioners. We need more classes like this in law schools. I'm not sure I would have taken it back then, but even the option would have been nice. The "better" the school (and I went to one of them), the less practical law you learn. I'm not saying that is good or bad, it is just reality. I have long been an advocate of cutting the law school curriculum to three or four semesters of classroom time with the balance being spent in clinical and practical education. So many students come out of law school and start practicing knowing less than nothing, which is a bar to solo practice for many because of sheer fear. At least doctors have residencies. And our friends to the north have "articling" where you essentially train with other lawyers as an intern in all practical aspects of practice. Great idea, Canada.

Now here's a great idea

Just so you don't think I blast every new suburban lifestyle center, here's one that I think will work. The southwest suburbs need something like this. In addition to a booming Joliet, think about New Lenox, Frankfort, Channahon, Minooka, Manhattan, etc. All these towns are expanding rapidly and not just with low income homes. I know everyone thinks of the North Shore for affluence -- and they are right -- but there is money to be spent here, and development costs will be lower. Near two freeways...highway planning in talks....looks like these guys know what they are doing.

From letters to numbers?

When I was a young lawyer, we didn't have easy web access to computerized directories of lawyers. If we wanted to find a lawyer in another city, we consulted a huge, multi-volume tome called Martindale-Hubbell. (They are also on the web now at Martindale always tried to distinguish itself from other legal directories by purporting to rate lawyers by ability (A for very high to preeminent, B for high to very high, and C for good to high) and general ethical standards (V - you either are very high or nothing). Supposedly, if you were an "AV" rated lawyer then you were part of the creme de la creme. (Disclosure note: my firm is AV rated, although I certainly don't tout that credential to my clients or to prospects.)

Now there is a new, much-ballyhooed site opening on the web: Avvo will purport to rate attorneys on a 1 to 10 scale based on credentials, experience, disciplinary history, and client recommendations. Larry Bodine has a good post on the whole concept here.

I went to the site the other day when it rolled out. It is slick, well-designed and easy for the public to access. (My base rating: 6.1, I think.) But I'm not thrilled about becoming a member (even for free) or trying to improve my rating, which I'm sure would happen if I registered and gave them my credentials, etc. Maybe the client rating thing could be useful, but I am in a niche practice area, and I can see a potential for abuse, both positive and negative. At the end of the day, I am more than a number, just as I am more than a Martindale-Hubbell letter. Judge me by my work and by what my clients say about me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mmmm.....Fox & Obel.....

Looks like the gourmet grocer Fox & Obel (owned by ex-lawyers, IIRC) may add a South Loop location at the old Trailways station at Wabash and Roosevelt. Yummy. I'm not just jealous of the South Loop, I'm now hungry, too.

Yet another Regus office downtown

If I did not rent space from a client, I think I would have a space at a Regus facility. It is just perfect for lawyers like me who want a Chicago presence without all the hassle, or for companies wanting a part-time office, or even for those who want a virtual office with conference room privileges. And the concept is obviously catching on, as downtown site number 10 is opening at Two Prudential.

The other cool thing about Regus is the ability to use the facilities on the road. No matter where you are, find a facility and go. Gotta love it.

Site of the Day Great dirt. Witty writing. A can't miss blog, in my opinion. Check it out. The end.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Several years ahead of its time?

A developer is proposing to build a lifestyle (I think?) center with 500k sf of retail, a hotel, 15 outparcels and 22 acres of senior housing about two miles from my house. Groundbreaking is to take place on June 22.

This is a great idea -- in about 2014. The infrastructure, population, demographics and tenants are lacking. The necessary exit on I-57 to make this work will not be built until 2011 or 2012 at the earliest, I'm told. The senior part might be the best part of it of all; good idea. The mobile home park across the street, combined with the heavy medical office uses going in this corridor are negatives but can be overlooked. After all, the park may go someday and I think this can be a prime corner.

The story says that there was hoopla about this at ICSC, but (a) none of my sources there told me about it and (b) almost everything at ICSC is looked upon with enthusiasm.

Of course, I really hope I am wrong. I'd like to see that much good retail near my house, although I also want to see some four or six lane highways first, and some of the existing vacant retail spots in town filled in.

All in all, if this is a long-term play, then I applaud the developer. If this is something they really expect done and reasonably leased up by late 2008, then I just don't see it happening.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Private Public Investment Cycles

Here's a great analysis from John Carrafiell of Morgan Stanley, as reported by, regarding trends on public to private transactions in the market. As we know, the US is currently in a trend from REIT-dominated to private equity-dominated transactions. This is also apparently the case in Asia. But in Europe, the opposite is true and you are seeing private to public transactions.
This is all just a cycle. Private equity firms will probably do like they do with companies: sort through everything, maximize value and go public. And in Europe, PE will catch on as well, although prices are so high that it compared to the US that it may take a while. Land in much of Asia is still cheap so the PE guys are whole hog there for now.

Strategic Hotels striving to stay independent

One of my earliest posts was complimentary toward Laurence Geller, whose Strategic Hotels & Resorts had been coming under fire from some investors (and unfairly so, in my view) about valuation. It looks like SHR has at least bought some time to grow the stock price by selling $49 stakes in the Intercontinental Chicago and the Hyatt Regency La Jolla to the investment arm of the government of Singapore.

Other than our mutual affinity for Winston Churchill, I have no reason to cheer on SHR other than because I like seeing Chicago companies, in this case, do well. And this company has a very nice portfolio of luxury properties that should succeed. I hope they achieve their goal of remaining independent.