Facebook Is Entering Into The World Of Real Estate 

Facebook is currently planning to develop a community near its headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The property is set to have a supermarket, restaurants, shops, and a 193-room hotel. 

The company town will be known as Willow Village, and will contain over 1,700 apartments on site, including 320 more affordable units and 120 that will be set aside specifically for senior citizens. 

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Willow Village is being developed on a 59-acre site which currently stands as an industrial and research complex. Facebook is collaborating with Signature Development Group to create the space; the group is a Bay Area real estate developer known for creating spaces that combine commercial and residential spaces. 

The design for Willow Village is projected to be very community oriented and pedestrian friendly. It will have numerous bike trails, sidewalk space, and numerous public park spaces; including a quarter-mile elevated park meant to emulate the High Line in Manhattan, NYC.

The development will also contain a 1.25-million-square-foot office building that will include a massive glass-dome area known as the “collaboration area.” 

Facebook initially filed paperwork to redevelop the 59-acre site back in 2017, but were met with major resistance from residents in nearby neighborhoods who were worried about the traffic and housing prices that would be impacted. 

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In order to accommodate, Facebook created a blueprint that made Willow Village have 30% less office space to make room for 200 more apartments. It also agreed to prioritize construction of grocery stores and other retail options that any citizen can use, not just employees. 

“We’re deeply committed to being a good neighbor in Menlo Park. We listened to a wide range of feedback and the updated plan directly responds to community input,” said John Tenanes, Facebook’s VP of real estate.

Willow Village will not just be for Facebook employees. The City of Menlo Park is still currently reviewing Facebook’s proposal that would allow for prime residential access to the spaces in Willow Village, but it’s expected that the proposal will be approved in the coming weeks. 

The goal is to have as many Facebook employees as possible living in the village to allow for optimal business. The public aspect will also help the social media giant further grow because they now will have direct access to the individuals who use the platform every day. 

New York Lifts A Majority Of Covid-19 Restrictions As Vaccination Rates Continue To Rise 

New York officially has 70% of its population inoculated with at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, meaning the state is now fulfilling its promise of lifting nearly all pandemic restrictions as a result of having such a large vaccinated population. 

All New York City restaurants, bars, and museums will no longer be required to have a limited capacity, enforce social distancing, conduct health screenings, or collect information for contact tracing purposes. 

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All private businesses, however, do hold the right to continue to enforce all of these policies. 

“Not only do we have the lowest COVID positivity rate in the United States of America, we have hit 70% vaccination ahead of schedule. We’re no longer just surviving – we’re thriving.”

Vermont, California, Florida, and Illinois are a few of the other states New York is joining in terms of lifting most of their pandemic restrictions. The US in total has administered about 309 million Covid-19 vaccinations, driving down a lot of the daily reports of new cases throughout the nation. 

In New York City specifically about 60% of all adults are fully vaccinated while 65% have received at least one dose of either of the two-dose vaccine options (Pfizer or Moderna). Statewide about 70% of the population has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine ever since Pfizer announced individuals aged 12 and up can receive their vaccine. 

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In healthcare settings all pandemic restrictions obviously will remain in place. Public transportation systems and large indoor event venues that can hold up to 5,000 people or more will also be required to enforce restrictions.

 The venues will likely include places like Madison Square Garden or other large stadiums where social distancing would be easy. 

Large event venues, however, have already started allowing vaccinated individuals to attend certain events without a facial covering as long as they remain in designated areas for vaccinated individuals.

 Some venues have even split up their space for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals to keep everyone separated. 

Vaccinated individuals have been able to use their proof of vaccine to attend sports games without social distancing or wearing a mask of any kind while unvaccinated fans are required to be in specified sections that allow for distanced seating; facial coverings are also still required as well. 

California Shutdown Is Causing Restaurants And Other Businesses To Struggle Greatly

After an intense second-wave of Covid-19 infections, California Governor Gavin Newsom shutdown the state with measures that yet again restricted a multitude of businesses and restaurants from making an income.

Closed Restaurant

10,000 Restaurants Have Closed In The US Since September 

According to a trade group that has been working to get Congress to provide some sort of immediate financial relief to the restaurant industry in America, over 10,000 food establishments have now shut down either temporarily or permanently due to economic troubles brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Many restaurant and small business advocate groups throughout the nation are calling on lawmakers and pushing Congress to approve of a $120 billion bill that would help assist eateries and independently owned restaurants a fighting chance to survive the rest of the pandemic. There are around 500,000 independent restaurants throughout the country that rely on local consumerism to remain afloat. 

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These groups also want the government to revive the Paycheck Protection Program which was initially aimed at protecting small businesses, however, after the initial rounds of these payments, many businesses soon realized a majority of the money was going to largely owned multi-million dollar companies. Even worse, the program didn’t have a specific fund set aside for restaurants only, so they were especially left in the financial dust. 

This summer the US eased a lot of its restrictions for outdoor in-person dining, which allowed the industry to bounce back a little, however, with the winter season fully approaching and now a massive surge of new Covid-19 cases also appearing, many cities are moving to shut down again. Sean Kennedy is an executive vice president for Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) who recently sent a letter to Congress on behalf of the entire association and independently owned restaurants all over the country. 

“More than 500,000 restaurants of every business type are in an unprecedented economic decline. For every month that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands of more restaurants will close for good.” 

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A recent survey performed by the NRA showed that of its members, almost 6 in 10 chain and independent restaurant operators expect to lay off or furlough employees consistently within the next three months. In November, the number of workers in bars and restaurants declined by about 18,000, after being on a steady increase since April when these establishments were able to reopen and keep their workers employed. 

Beyond just the lack of customers, restaurants are also worried about working in the middle of a global health crisis that is killing hundreds of thousands. Ashwin Deshmukh owns an all-day cafe and bar in New York City, and he recently spoke with the local media about how intense this pandemic has actually been for the industry. 

“Owners are really worrying about not being able to cover fixed costs amid the demand destruction caused by the pandemic. Costs are higher due to spending about $100 per week on personal protective equipment.” 

Getting through the winter will pose a major struggle for the industry unless another government funded assistance program is distributed among all the small businesses and establishments that are just trying to remain afloat during the worst global health and economic crisis’ in decades.

Arizona Coronavirus

Arizona Among States Shutting Down Again After Massive Spikes In Covid-19 Cases

The coronavirus pandemic is still very much a major health crisis for the entire world. Worldwide, over 500,000 individuals have died, and over 10.3 million have contracted the virus. The unpredictability of Covid-19, along with a complete disregard for safety measures enforced by healthcare professionals as opposed to government bodies and law enforcement, has led to America in particular seeing a massive surge in cases when compared to the rest of the world. 

Arizona, to be more specific, was one of the many states to prematurely reopen while the rest of the world continued to remain indoors to curve the spread. Now, the state is dealing out major rollbacks on all of the re-openings, as the state has seen one of the most “brutal” increases in Covid-19 cases within the past 30 days of being opened again. 

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Before the end of this month, Arizona had reopened its bars, gyms, and businesses. Now, Governor Doug Ducey is claiming all of those establishments, along with any others that reopened, will be closing yet again. Events with more than 50 individuals have already been prohibited, however, many are wondering if that’s enough considering the fact that the state saw an increase from 46,000+ cases to 75,000+ cases in a matter of 10 days. 

“Our expectation is that next week, our numbers will be worse. It will take several weeks for the mitigations we are putting in place to take effect,” Ducey said.

The largest increase in case numbers is among individuals who are anywhere from 20 to 40-years old; that demographic makes up about 22% of all hospitalizations for the state. However, Arizona is not alone in this, in fact, sixteen other states that have also prematurely reopened all major businesses, bars, restaurants, etc. have pulled back and begun closing down again due to Covid case numbers rising.

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Bars in Texas and California that never even fully closed down are now officially shutting down business while South Florida recently got an order to begin closing down its beaches. This upcoming fourth of July weekend has many healthcare officials essentially begging their government officials to close everything down to avoid mass gatherings of celebration. 

Arizona is already enforcing that for this weekend in particular groups of 10 or less are allowed to gather if they remain outside and socially distanced. The major drawback, however, is that even with these rules enforced, many still ignore them, and local officials aren’t enforcing them seriously enough for individuals to actually worry about getting reprimanded. 

Arizona schools in particular have also pushed back all dates to start the school year until at least August 17th; that date is also subject to change. The governor said that is a facility that’s been affected by Covid-19 wants to reopen, individuals running said facilities must enforce public health regulations and post it largely for the public to see. The governor’s goal is to open up again in 30 days, however, as we know this virus takes 2-3 weeks to appear sometimes, so who’s to say what the world will look like in a month, let alone a state that already reopened and closed again once.

Convenience Store

America Has A New Favorite Style of Restaurant, And You May Be Surprised

When planning where to go for dinner many of us would think of a nice restaurant or maybe a takeaway restaurant but there is another option that is becoming more popular with Americans.

Thanks to the variety of meal kits, keto snacks, salads and coffees offered by many gas stations and convenience stores, it appears that our favourite restaurants are now Kwik Trip, Wawa and Sheetz.

The improvement in these areas has seen an unexpected rise for sales at convenience stores, especially when we are currently in a situation where many stores have to close due to shoppers opting to buy their products online. And with many Americans working late or inconvenient shifts, it is easier for them to eat on the go, especially when filling the car.

Nielsen’s senior vice president of retail services Jeff Williams said, “it has absolutely been a hidden gem. They are demanding that consumers view them as a destination for food.”

With the way Americans eat continuing to change – many prefer to snack rather than have a sit-down meal – convenience stores have had to adjust their businesses in an attempt to cash in. And it seems to have worked.

Many chains have started employing restaurant executives, prepare the food on site and have increased the choice of food on offer. Customers are no longer prepared to visit a fast food restaurant or spend time searching for food at the grocery store according to analysts. With time an issue – especially for millennials – many prefer to head to the convenience store where the average visit is under four minutes.

Leadership development specialist for Kwik Trip, Carl Rick, agrees. “People simply don’t have the time to sit down a whole meal at night like they used to. The more places where people can duck in, be out in three minutes with milk, eggs, maybe a sandwich, something to drink – those places are doing very well.”

The growth of the convenience store has grown over the last twenty years with The National Association of Convenience Stores confirming there were now 28% more stores in America. Sales have also improved with an increase of 30% over the last ten years.

The convenience store first came into existence in Dallas when the Southland Ice Company opened their first store. Now known as 7-Eleven, they noticed a gap in the market for customers wanting to buy staple supplies when the conventional grocery stores were closed in the evenings and on Sundays.

By 1965 there were around 5,000 convenience stores across the country and today we now have nearly 153,000, which is more than America’s dollar stores, drug stores and grocery stores combined.

And with 93% of Americans able to access a convenience store within 10 minutes of their home and nearly 80% of those have a gas station attached it is easy to see why sales have grown.

In the past, convenience stores used a business model popularly known as “Cokes, smokes and gas” which saw many of them profiting from the sales of soft drinks, tobacco and fuel. However, today’s Americans are healthier which has forced the industry to take a different approach in order to stay in business.

The sales of food steadily increased, becoming the biggest seller between 2009 and 2018, and with 2010 seeing the spending on food outside of the home higher than food inside the home, it was clear a shift had started. Something Kwik Trip’s Rick agrees with.

“Fewer people are making those big grocery trips and more and more people are buying individual meals. We’re looking to capitalize on that.”

A 2017 USDA study also discovered that millennials “exhibit a higher preference for convenience” who tend to eat out more often than the previous generation.

Sheetz’s chief operating officer Travis Sheetz confirmed that they are moving their sales goals, stating their “bullseye is kind of that younger age group – the late teens to the early thirties for food and beverage…..They tend to be much more accepting of eating at a gas station”.

Sheetz have admitted that McDonald’s is their biggest competitor and have been offering more choice in their food, including their breakfasts that you can buy at night, something McDonald’s has only recently started to offer.

However other areas of retail have noticed this trend and have started to introduce “copycat” convenience store type deals with many restaurants improving their snack and breakfast offerings. The move could have a drastic effect on the convenience store with Steve Holtz of CSP Magazine worried that “other retail channels also are trying to steal our thunder.”

Some stores are even creating smaller versions – such as Dollar General (DG) who have opened DGX, while Kroger (KR) has joined forces with Walgreens (WBA) to install Kroger Express sections in some of the locations.

A recent research report from real estate firm CBRE confirmed it is believed that “major grocery players will employ more small-format, convenience-oriented concepts.”