SilverScreen - Autumn 2020 Edition
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SilverScreen
Autumn 2020
Things have certainly changed since our last newsletter. Thousands of Covid-related deaths worldwide, lockdowns in major cities, theatres, performing arts venues, museums and retail and restaurants closed until further notice – many of which will never open again – major unemployment on the horizon, and millions of people working from home.
 
We can only hope that good things will come out of the pandemic. We’ve definitely been spending more time with our loved ones, we’re figuring out how to communicate using technology, some of us are finding new skills – even if it’s 50 different ways to use the hoard of pasta you have in the cupboard.
 
In this issue of SilverScreen we look at some of the things that have changed in the past six months, from a heightened interest in moving to the suburbs, to what is happening to our empty airports, to the burgeoning Toronto tech industry. Above all we’re waiting to see what happens with the rest of 2020, washing our hands, staying home, and wearing our masks. 

What's happening in Hamilton?
 
Our development at 62 King Street East is moving ahead. The new drawings submitted by our architects, Toms and McNally Design, to convert the buildings into a restaurant and offices were completed, and we’ve forged ahead with gutting the interior of the buildings. The construction has started and we have already started to market the building’s leasing, receiving strong interest from potential tenants outside of Hamilton and even from the U.S.. We are lucky to have strong support from the City who really want to see this stretch of the downtown core come alive again.
 
The entire King Street block is improving. The new Effort Trust HQ is coming out of the ground at 50. Next door at 58 the building has a new owner who has started renovations, and the buildings on the other side at 66/68 have a new owner with plans to convert the apartments into luxury condominiums.
 
With the advent of Covid 19, we are seeing many distressed buildings in this area of Hamilton and, as usual, we are welcoming enquiries from interested long-term investors to join us in our new ventures. 

Hamilton's FirstOntario Centre gets a Facelift

The winning bid of the multi-million dollar renovation to Hamilton's downtown entertainment facilities proposes massive changes to the FirstOntario Centre, FirstOntario Concert Hall and the Hamilton Convention Centre, as well as a series of new high rises. The bidder, Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG), offered a $500-million pitch.
 
The planned FirstOntario Centre renovations include a new building exterior, a "transformation" of the lower bowl, expanded concourse level, and a new curtaining system for the upper bowl balcony. The group proposes a microbrewery, suites and hospitality clubs to be built. HUPEG are also looking at developing the York Boulevard side to make the building accessible at street level so that people can experience services — food or retail — outside of the centre’s events. In addition, three proposed high rises would incorporate the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the convention centre, condos and commercial space. Two more towers are possible at the corner of Bay Street and King Street West.

Hamilton's West Harbour

This large and exciting project will greatly alter the look and feel of the Hamilton waterfront and has been in discussion for several years. The West Harbour Development is a $140 million redevelopment project that will transform the West Harbour into a vibrant, mixed-use, transit-supportive and pedestrian-friendly community. It will consist of cultural, residential, commercial, and recreational uses and year-round attractions. The plan calls for more than 1,600 housing units consisting of condominium units, townhomes, and other affordable accommodations, spread throughout the development.
 
Architect Bruce Kuwabara pitched a 46-storey signature building for the proposed Pier 8 redevelopment. The cylindrical tower would be paired with a shorter, 30 storey building. The tower would allow for more family sized units, with a total of approximately 400 units, and on-pier parking in the planned harbourfront neighbourhood. 
 
The City is undecided whether there can be such a tall building on the site. It would require an official plan amendment and a new zoning bylaw amendment approved by Council. If built, the tower will be the tallest in Hamilton, but the 43 storey Landmark Place at 100 Main Street East will remain Hamilton’s tallest building in the lower City by geodetic height. 

Hamilton Stars in TVO's Life-Sized City

At the heart of every city is its citizens. Our perception of cities is slowly changing from a model of mathematical engineering to a human habitat where urban spaces have the potential to be healthy, attractive, interesting and efficient. In TVO’s six-part series,  The Life-Sized City, urban design expert Mikael Colville-Andersen explores the anatomy and vibrancy of the modern metropolis, highlighting pockets of life-sized goodness in cities around the world. Sandwiched between episodes on Buenos Aires and Barcelona, Hamilton gets its hour of fame with its own episode airing on October 18 at 9pm.

Tech-worker Immigrants Choose Canada over the US
 
Silicon Valley's reputation as the world's leading tech hub could be in jeopardy because of the United States' new restrictive immigration laws. Each year, the US government issues 85,000 H-1B visas for skilled foreign professionals — people like Elon Musk, who was born in South Africa and started the companies Tesla and SpaceX. This year, immigration laws suddenly changed when Trump cited "an unusual threat to the employment of American workers" during the coronavirus pandemic, and in June suspended the H-1B visa. But while the US is closing its doors, Canada has been rolling out the welcome mat. The number of tech jobs has skyrocketed from about 148,000 in 2013 to 228,000 in 2019 - an increase of 54%. Over 100,000 people emigrate to the Toronto region each year -  twice as many as to the San Francisco Bay Area - a fifth of whom already have a STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degree before they even arrive here.
 
Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify capitalized on the opportunity. Following Trump's announcement, CEO Tobias Lutke — himself an immigrant from Germany — tweeted: "If this affects your plans, consider coming to Canada instead." Sandeep Anand, the company's senior mobility lead, echoed Lutke's call for talent: "Whether they're already in Canada, or whether they're globally present, we're looking to really expand our diverse workforce. In some cases it means that we would need to provide immigration support, which we're happy to do.” According to a 2016 study, 25% of Canada's workforce are immigrants. In the tech space, that number is higher — 40%, or 350,000 workers.
 
For many immigrants in the US the decision to move to Canada alleviates the constant worry about their legal status while they are applying for the H-1B visa. Often there is an undefined timeline of processing and no guarantee of getting the visa. Launched in 2017, Canada’s visa program, the Global Talent Stream, is like the H-1B program, but a lot quicker to obtain. It takes roughly around two weeks to complete the first stage, with the second stage work permit taking another two weeks. 
Rethinking Airport Space

It’s difficult to tell whether Singapore Changi Airport is an entertainment complex or an airport. Changi features a three-screen movie theater, an indoor butterfly garden, a rooftop pool and inventive eateries that attract as many locals as travelers. With more than 400 shops, including Tiffany & Company (there are two), the Changi Airport would be the fourth-largest mall by the number of tenants if it were in the United States.
 
An audience that is both captive, and often affluent, has made airport commercial square footage some of the most lucrative in the world. The leading airport for concession and retail sales in the United States is LAX, with revenue of $3,036 a square foot. Chicago’s O’Hare clocks in second with $2,718 a square foot. By comparison, the average mall retailer is around $325 per square foot. But the pandemic has crushed the commercial calculus at airports, and no one is sure what comes next.
 
Concession sales at San Francisco International Airport in May were down 96% from a year earlier. Duty-free concession sales were down 100 percent because all the stores were closed. In May 2019, duty-free sales were $11.5 million.
 
Until passenger traffic returns, airport retail properties are not going to be profit centers. Even when passengers return, it may be at reduced capacity, and essentials like health screenings will cut into space for other needs, usually concessions. And with concessions likely to need more space for social distancing, it will cut down on the number of retail units that airports can offer.
 
The very amenities that once made airports a standout for profit are the same things that are proving to be challenging. For instance, Changi’s theaters are still shuttered not just for pathogen protection but also because traffic is too low to justify the operating expenses. The airport’s traffic has fallen to 1 percent of what it was a year ago, which leaves little market for movies or gourmet meals.
 
So far, the pandemic has not paused construction progress in airports in the US. Kansas City International Airport is in the middle of a $1.5 billion terminal renovation plan to consolidate its three terminals into a single 39-gate giant, including a two-story fountain, a children’s play area and updated concessions. It’s not the first time the airport has been remodeled during significant airline industry disruption: On September 11, 2001, the airport was in the middle of a major overhaul. Changes had to be made to screening areas quickly, and interior and exterior glass fortified. Other projects underway, including at La Guardia Airport in New York and in smaller markets like Lafayette, Louisiana, are moving ahead but taking a wait-and-see approach on adjustments.
 
New terminal construction should focus on space not just for the coronavirus but for other respiratory illnesses, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He said new terminals needed to allow enough space for people to spread out, offer high-efficiency particulate air filtration and distribute free masks. Dr. Fauci would also like to see more health screening at airports to prevent the type of virus spread seen in Wuhan, China, and Milan, Italy. Such testing could include temperature checks, questioning and contact tracing. 

Variable Leases - Wave of the Future?

The owner of London’s Covent Garden market, a magnet for millions of foreign and domestic tourists who can shop and dine along cobbled streets dating back to the 17th century, is not accustomed to offering concessions to tenants ranging from Apple to independent businesses. That has changed with Covid 19. With foreign tourists staying at home and the UK economy in recession, Covent Garden’s owner is offering some of their tenants variable leases for the rest of the year, giving businesses a deal where the level of rent is tied to how much turnover they generate.
 
There are few starker illustrations of how the pandemic is forcing property companies dependent on the retail and hospitality industries to think what might have once seemed unthinkable. All over the world, the pandemic has unleashed a debate over whether rents should be fixed or linked to some measure of how a tenant’s business is performing.
 
As rising infections in the US threaten more crippling lockdowns, fashion chain Urban Outfitters is among a growing number of retailers calling for variable leases to help them weather the pandemic. Chip Bergh, chief executive of US fashion chain Levi Strauss, is clear: “A fixed lease, especially at pre-Covid levels, could become economically punishing. We might be looking at an extended period of time where you have to limit the number of people coming through your doors.” As well as lower sales, retailers also face higher costs due to cleaning and other safety measures. Rémy Baume, chief executive of Zadig & Voltaire, the French clothes retailer, agrees. “During the recovery period, we need variable rents and not fixed ones. This would align both sides’ interests as we come out of the crisis.” 
 
US cinema chain AMC Entertainment, Canada’s Cineplex, and global fashion retailer All Saints are among companies who have made progress towards agreements linking rents to the level of turnover. Scores of US businesses, including Tommy Hilfiger and The Cheesecake Factory, have sought relief on rents. In many cases, landlords have conceded, given the near impossibility of finding alternative tenants. 
 
Even if some UK retailers have reported encouraging sales since the lockdown began to be eased in May, no one disputes the sector remains in the grip of a crisis. Intu, the country’s largest shopping centre owner, collapsed into administration in June. Although the gravity of the situation has prompted some landlords to conclude that having less rent is preferable to a bankrupt tenant, the fight over leases has sometimes turned ugly.
 
In April, a group of about 30 French retailers and trade associations wrote an open letter in the Les Echos newspaper urging landlords to tie rents to revenue for the rest of the year. With major French landlords such as Unibail and Klépierre refusing such demands, the French government attempted to mediate, but that process failed after retail trade associations rejected a proposed compromise. Bris Rocher, whose family-backed company owns French beauty products company, Yves Rocher, and kids clothing brand, Petit Bateau, has been a vocal advocate for renegotiating leases. Decent trading at the company’s 800 or so stores since they reopened in mid-May had softened the blow, but the company decided to close a flagship shop on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris. Fewer tourists, particularly from China, meant that they were losing money on the store. “We tried to go to a variable rent but the landlord was having none of it,” said Mr. Rocher.
 
Whether in the US, the UK or France, retailers have so far only pushed for variable leases, which can also include a fixed one-off payment, until the end of the year. But with the pandemic turbocharging the migration of consumers from physical stores to the internet, some sense both the chance and need for a more permanent change in leases. “In the UK, there has been a huge acceptance among owners and occupiers that our way of occupying commercial space is broken and there needs to be radical change,” said Mark Robinson, chair of the High Streets Task Force, a government-appointed body of experts
which advises on supporting and transforming local high streets.
 
A survey of UK landlords in May found that 40% would now be more likely to factor turnover, footfall or online sales into lease agreements. Brian Bickell, chief executive of Shaftesbury, a UK-listed property company whose portfolio includes London’s Chinatown, acknowledges that the industry may be at an era defining juncture. “I think landlords now are going to have to accept more risk-sharing in terms of taking on turnover rents,” said Mr Bickell, who has offered turnover-linked leases to restaurants and cafés. “At the end of the day it's got to be affordable for the tenant as well.”
 
However, a concerted effort to make turnover-linked leases more mainstream would bring its own tensions as well as potentially radical ramifications for property companies. For restaurants, cafés and bars, such leases would be relatively straightforward because sales take place on site. But a thorny challenge for retail landlords is establishing how much of a tenant’s revenue is attributable to a physical store. “I don’t think anyone’s cracked how you capture online sales [when setting variable leases],” said Mr Bickell. “The brand value of having a bricks-and-mortar store in Soho is huge, but how do you ever know which shop is driving turnover?”
 
If turnover-linked leases were ultimately brought in, investors say it would also change the perception of a sector where company valuations have typically been underpinned by stable income streams and the allure of dividends. “Investing in commercial property, you’re investing for income,” said Tim Munn, chief investment officer at Mayfair Capital. “Accepting that rental income can go down as well as up brings more risk for risk-averse investors.” Mr. Munn and other dividend-hungry investors have no need to panic. Variable-linked leases still account for a small share of retail landlords’ income. Simon Property Group, the largest US shopping mall owner, generated $4.9bn from fixed leases last year, more than five times that it made from variable ones. But if a significant number of consumers fail to return to shops and restaurants in the coming months, the pressure to permanently rewire lease agreements will only grow.

New York City Lite

The past 20 years has been a golden age of great cities such as New York and London. As talented young workers migrated to the cities, companies followed, resulting in vibrant, productive — and pricey — metropolises that have been the global economy’s centres of gravity. But coronavirus has, almost overnight, thrown this dynamic into question by rendering some of these cities’ great attributes — their density and rich cultural offerings — unappealing or off-limits. 
 
This is precipitating an exodus to suburbs. In Stamford, Connecticut, the number of single-family homes under contract in the wider Fairfield County rose 63% in July, compared to the previous year. The value of those contracts was up 104%. Reports of rising crime in a fraying New York City is prompting young families to accelerate life decisions. RealPage, a property analytics company, recorded a net loss of 6,786 households in the New York metro area in the second quarter. The flight has been so dramatic that Governor Andrew Cuomo recently pleaded for New Yorkers to come home. There is an unprecedented rate of vacancies in the city and similar shifts are occurring in London and Paris.
 
If more and more workers flock to the suburbs, will companies follow? One of the revelations of the coronavirus pandemic has been how communications technology has allowed so many people to work from home without much of a hitch. Within the property industry opinion is divided. Some brokers and developers believe that many companies will retain a splashy Manhattan headquarters, while also allowing employees more flexibility to work remotely. Others say companies are considering investing in satellite offices in suburbs where they have concentrations of workers.
 
Evercore, the investment bank, is said to be shopping for a facility in Stamford to accommodate 10 to 20 local employees. Companies that can afford it will eventually offer their employees several options: remote working, satellite offices or at a big city headquarters.
 
Some planning experts predict that this exodus is a temporary decampment, arguing that the things that made New York City so appealing before the pandemic would return when it eventually passes. As if to underscore that point, Facebook recently leased all 730,000 sq ft of office space in the converted Farley post office building by Penn Station. In less than a year, it has gobbled up more than 2m sq ft of space in Manhattan.
 
Well before the pandemic, the suburbs were quietly gaining ground as millennials entered their prime child-rearing years to seek the same things that have caused others to flee big cities: space, safety and good schools. Now the pandemic has expedited the move.
 
Stamford, Connecticut’s third-largest city, blends memories of bustling industry with a smattering of modern finance and corporate life. It has some of the upmarket traces of neighbouring Greenwich but is more rugged and diverse — something its boosters appreciate and its detractors do not. Stamford’s fortunes have turned over during the years based on its close relationship with New York City, which is just 45 minutes away by commuter train. When New York was on its knees in the 1970s, Stamford was one of the suburbs that became a magnet for corporations fleeing the decaying metropolis. It attracted the likes of GTE and Singer Sewing Machines, among others. 
 
The current crisis has brought a flurry of inquiries, say commercial brokers. Most are smaller firms — hedge funds, boutique investment banks — seeking ready-built offices of 10,000 sq ft or less. They also want short leases. 


Real estate developer, Building and Land Technology, is not only trying to lure people and companies to Stamford, but trying to convince them to move south of the train station, where businesses have traditionally been concentrated. Its development, Harbour Point, sits atop a former industrial site that once hosted the likes of Pitney Bowes and the Yale Lock Company.
 
Carl Kuehner, BLT’s chairman, took over the Harbour Point project in 2008 from another developer who had run out of cash. Over the years, BLT has scrubbed away the factories and put up parks, waterfront jogging trails and 3,400 apartment units that feature the same sort of amenities — doormen, rooftop terraces, gyms and dog washes — that one might find in a fancy residential tower in New York or Miami. There are still cranes on the skyline, with another 600 apartments on the way. Red trolley buses circle the property. BLT has also strained to recruit a succession of restaurants, a gourmet supermarket, a brew pub and retailers.
 
The idea was not to recreate the traditional, leafy American suburb,. instead, BLT is aiming for a walkable community with the urban accoutrements that are supposed to appeal to millennials. Taking all the amenities and delivering ‘New York City Lite’ – the downtown office experience — but in the suburbs. So far, though, Harbor Point’s dozen residential buildings are between 93 and 96% occupied. It has also lured corporate tenants. Mischler, a boutique investment bank, moved to Harbor Point 10 years ago, after its CEO decided he no longer wanted to endure a pre-dawn commute to Manhattan. Charter Communications is putting the finishing touches on a 500,000 sq ft headquarters by the train line and has decided to add an additional 300,000 sq ft. Sema4, a DNA testing company, moved in last year. Indeed.com, the job recruitment company, and NBC Sports have also set up shop.

Malcolm’s Kids – All Grown Up!
 
The apples don’t fall far from the tree, they say, and in Malcolm’s daughters’ cases it’s more than true. The two amazingly brilliant young women returned to the family home for lockdown, and a lot changed in six months!

Jackie, Malcolm’s eldest daughter, recently graduated from Ryerson University with a masters’ degree in Nutrition Communication and is now a registered dietitian. Jackie is launching her own nutrition consulting business -  Accessible Wellness - within the next few weeks where she will be offering virtual one-on-one nutrition counselling. Jackie’s focus is on providing a nutrition service for people with physical disabilities (spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, etc.), intellectual disabilities or chronic diseases (such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol), all with a focus on mindful eating. 
 
Stay tuned for the Accessible Wellness website, but in the meantime, Jackie can be found at: 
jackiesilvernutrition@gmail.com For more information check out her Instagram page at: @accessiblewellness (https://www.instagram.com/accessiblewellness/). 


After two years working in Manhattan for Walmart, Malcolm’s youngest daughter, Rebecca, is on the hunt for a role in marketing, eCommerce, strategy or project management, and is hungry to contribute within a mission-driven, socially-focused company.
 
At Walmart she managed a $6.8M business through triple digit growth during COVID. Collaborating with exceptional cross-functional partners on site merchandising, marketing and search engine optimization to build a customer-centric experience. Partnering with suppliers to launch product lines, strategize plans for growth and sourcing unique product offerings while utilizing data-driven insights to manage pricing and sales forecasting.
 
With the recent corporate restructuring and layoffs, Rebecca is sadly saying goodbye to her team, but excited for the next opportunity. Check out her
Linked In profile, or reach her at rebeccajoysilver@gmail.com 
Book Reviews
Making it in Real Estate: Starting Out as a Developer
by John McNellis. Available from Amazon and the ULI Bookstore, 100 Pages.
What does it take to be a successful real estate developer? Author John McNellis tells you how, sharing practical tips and advice from his wealth of experience over 35 years in real estate development. Like meeting with a mentor over coffee, McNellis entertains with witty anecdotes, and wisdom on how to take advantage of opportunities and avoid pitfalls. Offering humorous insights, the book covers the ins and outs of how to get financing, working with architects, brokers, and other professionals, how to make a good deal, and win approval for your project.
The Noël Coward Diaries 
Edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley. Phoenix Press,
704 Pages
For over half a century Noel Coward was British Theatre's most renowned dramatist, director and star, and one of the most colourful characters who ever strode across its stage. Published to coincide with the centenary of Coward's birth, these diaries chronicle the last 30 years of his life, from his war-time concert tours, through his private and professional depression in the 1950s to his triumphant re-emergence in the 1960s and knighthood in 1970. Moving through the theatrical, social, political and historical world on both sides of the Atlantic, the impressive cast of characters ranges from Churchill and Mountbatten through Olivier and Vivien Leigh to Marilyn Monroe, Harold Pinter and the Beatles. This is a marvelously funny, touching and revealing account of the three decades in the life of the greatest theatrical entertainer of the century.
Mag Men
by Walter Bernard and Milton Glaser. Columbia University Press, 259 Pages. 
For more than fifty years, Walter Bernard and Milton Glaser revolutionized the look of magazine journalism. In Mag Men, Bernard and Glaser recount their storied careers, offering insiders' perspective on some of the most iconic design work of the twentieth century. The authors look back on and analyze some of their most important and compelling projects, from the creation of New York magazine to redesigns of such publications as Time, Fortune, Paris Match, and The Nation, explaining how their designs complemented a story and shaped the visual identity of a magazine.
Richly illustrated with the covers and interiors that defined their careers, Mag Men is bursting with vivid examples of Bernard and Glaser's work, designed to encapsulate their distinctive approach to visual storytelling and capture the major events and trends of the past half century. Highlighting the importance of collaboration in magazine journalism, Bernard and Glaser detail their relationships with a variety of writers, editors, and artists, including Nora Ephron, Tom Wolfe, Gail Sheehy, David Levine, Seymour Chwast, Katherine Graham, Clay Felker, and Katrina vanden Heuvel. The book features a foreword by Gloria Steinem, who reflects on her work in magazines and her collaborations with Bernard and Glaser. At a time when uncertainty continues to cloud the future of print journalism, Mag Men offers not only a personal history from two of its most innovative figures but also a reminder and celebration of the visual impact and sense of style that only magazines can offer.
Copyright © 2020 Malcolm Silver & Co. Ltd, All rights reserved.

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