Topshop to Open First Los Angeles store at The Grove

by Shan Li of the Los Angeles Times

 Let the count down begin!

British fashion chain Topshop is coming to Los Angeles.

The retailer is slated to open its fourth American store at the Grove shopping center in L.A.'s Fairfax district by the holiday season.

The chain, which makes cheap-chic clothes much like competitors Forever 21 and H&M, will take over a 25,000-square-foot location currently occupied by Banana Republic, which is moving to a smaller space in the outdoor shopping mall.

Rick Caruso, the real estate developer behind local shopping malls such as the Grove and the Americana at Brand, said he had been in talks with Topshop owner Sir Philip Green for the last two years and had campaigned for a Los Angeles location.

"We've spent a lot of time literally going around the world identifying great retailers and great restaurateurs," Caruso said. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that Topshop is one of them."

The goal is to open the store in November in time for the holidays, Caruso said, although any hiccups may push the starting date to February 2013.

Topshop already has stores in New York and Chicago. A Las Vegas store is opening March 8.



Virtual Murals for Real-Life Buildings

by Emily Badger of The Atlantic Cities

If you want to paint a public mural, you will need at least several of these things: money, connections to someone who has money, a building, or permission to use someone else’s. Oh, and lots and lots of paint. For all of these reasons, public art is a lot harder to come by in most cities than its commercial counterpart: billboards, fliers, and advertisements.

"Now we have a situation where the only way you can put up something in public space is if you can pay for it or convince a landlord that you’re worthwhile because of the laws that dictate use of private property," says Jordan Seiler. He created the rogue art group Public Ad Campaign, which reclaims advertising in the public realm for street art.

The old-school way to do that would be to literally paint over advertisements. But last summer, Public Ad Campaign partnered with the Los Angeles-based group The Heavy Projects to try a new twist on the idea, using mobile-phone applications to project virtual art onto real-life ads, creating an "augmented reality" that mashes together traditional images with digital information.

This week the two groups – they’ve rebranded their collective endeavors under the cheekily named HeavyPAC – are taking the concept even further.

"What we really wanted to do is now put art directly onto buildings," says BC Biermann, who founded The Heavy Projects. "Augmented reality allows us to cross private-property boundaries with street art."

The video below demonstrates HeavyPAC’s latest app, called Re*Public, which uses augmented reality to layer whole murals on top of buildings. Seiler and Biermann are testing the idea with three buildings in New York and Los Angeles (so far, while they do that, the app isn’t publicly available). If they can get funding to expand the tool, they envision creating virtual mural walks in multiple cities that would reconceive of the role of public art and who gets to create it.

The app doesn’t rely on GPS to identify buildings, but rather on a technology that essentially recognizes and reads the features of a building in the same way your smart phone can read a QR code. This means the virtual art can shift with your perspective as you walk up and down a block so that, as Seiler puts it, "the mural has the uncanny ability to feel like it actually exists."

This also means that two-dimensional art can be projected into what looks like 3D on the surface of these buildings.

Re*Public sits at the forefront of a new breed of civic projects blurring the physical and the digital. Seiler and Biermann are out to "democratize" public spaces, creating greater access to art for the public, and greater access to public canvases for artists. Down the road, this idea may even change the relationship between our public spaces and the visual clutter that currently dominates them – all those billboards and advertisements.

"We see public space as the last bastion of unfiltered advertising, especially in New York or L.A. or larger urban centers, where you get bombarded with uncontrolled messaging," Biermann says. Most of the advertising you see on the Internet, or on TV, is at least partially controllable. You can click away from it, or change the channel. In a future where we’ll all be walking around in augmented-reality Google glasses, you may actually be able to select how you want to perceive your city streets, too. Maybe you want to tune into the augmented-reality channel that gives you billboards for new rom-coms and hair-care products. Or maybe you want to walk through a Time Square blanketed in public art.

"All of that is possible, and it’s all user-filtered," Biermann says. "We see this as a first step to educating people that there’s this other option that’s coming."



How The CRE Industry is Turning Green to Gold


NEW YORK CITY-While energy prices have become much more volatile over the years, commercial real estate owners and managers still have the power to achieve cost-savings and reduce overhead. In navigating different legislation from around the country, participants during the 2012 BuildingsNY conference at the Javits Center discussed how real estate operators could obtain funding for green retrofits at the federal, state and local levels for office, industrial and multifamily properties.

Michael D’Onofrio, managing director of West Palm Beach, FL-based Engineered Tax Services, said under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress passed legislation to encourage property owners to build energy efficient real estate properties to promote reduction in energy consumption. As part of section 179D of the act, federal tax deductions are available for the design of energy-efficient upgrades for lighting, HVAC, building envelope and new construction, which allows to a value of $1.80 per square foot.

D’Onofrio explained that the deduction is eligible to the entity, which funds the investment on a private property, or to the designer of a public or government owned property.  He said by implementing these strategies, projects could realize valuable tax savings, and significantly improve project ROIs and annual cash flow. “It is typically overlooked and misunderstood,” he said. “But it’s pretty powerful given the fact that it’s been retroactive back to 2006, and it’s not just for new buildings, but for renovations and retrofits.”

According to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the legislation also covers accelerated depreciation for smart meters and smart-grid systems; extensions for energy-efficient improvements to existing and new homes; extensions for wind and renewable technologies; and the renewal and extension of the research and development tax credit for green buildings.

Recently, Congress brought the economic stabilization act of 2009 back to life, which extends the benefits of the energy policy act of 2005 through 2013. D’Onofrio said the legislation could be increased to $2 or $3 per square foot if extended into 2020, and could evolve from a deduction to a credit, similar to other renewable energy credits on the market.

On the local level, local laws 84,87 and 88 have sharpened the focus on energy consumption in large buildings. Using Manhattan as an example, panelists said New York City has implemented the Greater Greener Buildings Plan under Mayor Bloomberg's plaNYC initiative, which requires all owners of commercial buildings of 50,000 square feet or more to benchmark and disclose annual energy usage by May of every year.

 Marshall Chapin, senior director of business development at EnerNOC, said the company worked on the retrofitting of Morgan Stanley's headquarters at 1585 Broadway in Times Square, which saved $125,000 in the first 18 months after getting green project was complete.

 Check out more coverage of Buildings NY tomorrow morning on GlobeSt.com.



Associated Estates Acquires Historic Wilshire Boulevard Property

PR Newswire

Associated Estates Realty Corporation (NYSE, NASDAQ: AEC) today announced that it will expand to Southern California by building apartments on Wilshire Boulevard in the highly desirable Miracle Mile submarket of Los Angeles.

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