Another day, another study with another indicator showing how the economy appears to be humming along.
On Wednesday, the American Institute of Architects released June's Architecture Billings Index, which is calls a "leading economic indicator of construction activity."
The index, which reflects the nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending, was 53.5 for the month, up from 52.6 in May.
AIA says the score reflects an increase in design activity -- and any score over 50 means there's been an increase in billings. Two other measures, New Projects Inquiries and New Design Contracts, increased to 66.4 and 55.7, respectively.
The score for design contracts in June was the highest mark since the tally began in October 2010.
The data "is indicative of a sustainable strengthening across the construction marketplace," said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, in a statement. "With the first positive reading since last summer in billings at institutional firms, it appears that design activity for all major segments of the building industry is growing. The challenge now for architecture firms seems to be finding the right balance for staffing needs to meet increasing demand."
A few more highlights: The Midwest was the highest scoring region of the countrie in overall billings at 56.3. By sector, multi-ramily residential was 57.7, mixed practice was 53.8, commercial/industrial was 53.1 and institutional, 50.2.
As I reported in a story in the Sunday paper, mortage foreclosures are nearing pre-recession levels, giving house prices a major boost. This week, CoreLogic gives us another glimpse into the situation with a report on mortgage delinquencies, which have been steadily falling since the beginning of the economic recovery. In May, the delinquency rate was nearly a full percentage point lower than last year and nearly half the national average - just 2.37 percent of all mortgages were 90 days or more late compared with 4.44 percent nationwide.
The Woodbury Lakes shopping center, located in the eastern suburb along Interstate 94, has been sold.
The center in Minnesota and another called Bridgewater Falls near Cincinnati were sold for about $150 million. The pricetag for the individual centers was not revealed by the buyer, Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust of Michigan.
Spanning 366,000 square feet, Woodbury Lakes features Trader Joe's, buybuy Baby, DSW, H&M, The Gap, Charming Charlie and Michael's as anchor retailers. In-line retailers include Banana Republic, Victoria's Secret, White House/Black Market, American Eagle, Chico's, LOFT, Buckle and Express.
Built in 2005, the center is now 89 percent leased. Part of the deal involves Ramco-Gershenson to purchase additional acreage for the development of restaurants and other entertainment uses.
Ramco-Gershenson is a publicly traded real estate investment trust with 79 shopping centers and one office building in its portfolio.
As part of my reporting for a story in the Tuesday paper about a record-breaking $8 million Minneapolis condo that hit the market recently, I asked Zillow.com to scour the national listings in search of the biggest condos on the market. The Minneapolis unit, by the way, is the 12th largest in the nation, and it's interesting to note that the biggest units aren't the most expensive.
Need space? This penthouse condominium has nearly 12,000 square feet and is the largest condo in the Twin Cities and one of the largest homes in the metro. Its sole owner was Horst Rechelbacher, who died earlier this year. The two-level pad sits atop the Phoenix on the River condo building across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis and has sweeping 270-degree river and skyline views. It's on the market for $8 million, making it one of the most expensive condos in the market. On a per-square-foot basis, however, it's not the most expensive. It's listed at about $700 per square feet. A another riverfront condo owned by the late Sage and John Cowles, former owners of the Star Tribune, recently sold for a record $1,000 per square foot. Here's a run-down on some of the features in the Horst condo:
Barry Berg and Chad Larsen of Coldwell Banker Burnet have the listing. (Click here for a slideshow)
Franklin Street Properties Corp., the Massachusetts-based owner of the TCF Bank Building, said Wednesday it has selected a team to redevelop the downtown Minneapolis site.
Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. US Inc. will be the development manager and design/builder, Perkins+Will will lead the architectural design work, and CBRE Group Inc. will be the leasing agent.
The TCF Bank Building is a four-story office building located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis at the corner of 8th St. and Marquette Av. Last April, TCF Financial Corp. said it plans to move 1,150 employees from downtown Minneapolis to a campus in suburban Plymouth.
This opened the door for the spot to be redeveloped -- possibly into a new office tower.
William Friend, vice president and regional director for Franklin Street Properties said, “When we purchased the building in 2010, we saw significant untapped potential on the site. Now, with the improving downtown office market combined with TCF’s decision to relocate to the suburbs when their lease expires at the end of 2015, we believe it is an opportune time for optimizing the potential of the location. We are excited to move forward with this project and believe we have assembled the best team to bring new life to this strategic corner of downtown Minneapolis.”
Friend said multiple options are being considered for the proposed redevelopment, although a news release did not elaborate on those possibilities.