The international situation is looking even worse than last quarter. ISIS is getting more recruits, some even from our own country. There is a stream of refugees from Syria going into Europe. Our government has said it will take refugees from the war-torn Middle East but no number has been stated. Safety is a big concern.
Our world is actually at war, especially in the Middle East. And our country on its way to the smallest military since World War I. When will our elected leaders understand that the way to peace is a strong military that no one wants to challenge?
The chart below shows the Labor Force Participation Rate with the “official” unemployment rate. In order to have a healthy economy, we must put more of the potential workers to work. The economy was creating millions of jobs during the Ronald Reagan years. Not so with the current administration. The 5.1% unemployment rate is very deceptive.
Janet Yellen and company decided not to raise short term interest rates again last month. Are we in a period of long-term low interest rates? With China and Europe both in trouble, probably so. But at some point the United States is going to have to do something about its debt.
Consumer Confidence ended at 101 this quarter, a small increase.
Boot Barn, fresh off its IPO, is flush with capital and is on its way to expand its 170 stores in 26 states by 10% annually over the near term.
Party City, which also just had an IPO, wants to add an additional 30 stores per year over the next 10 years. It is expanding in the US, Canada and Mexico according to Shopping Centers Today.
Cracker Barrel, the restaurant and store chain that has been around since 1969, is also looking for new locations. At about 600 stores across 42 states, the concept has little direct competition. They claim to have people driving across the nation in their RVs that stop once or twice per day in its stores.
GAP is going to close 175 of its stores over the next few years with 140 of the shutdowns occurring in the current fiscal year. That will leave 500 GAP stores and approximately 300 outlet and factory stores in North America. Many of the closings will occur from not renewing current leases. This is a good lesson in “right-sizing”.
No matter how hard McDonald’s tries, it continues to disappoint according to Steve Esterbrook, McDonald’s new Chief Executive officer. The company is losing market share to fast casual restaurants.
The Texas economy grew at a slower rate this quarter as the price of crude oil declined further. The manufacturing industry also remained weak while housing rose.
The rig count continues to decline precipitously as the price declines further. I have no idea when the price will stabilize but I know we are taking production off line at a rapid rate.
According to a report released by the Urban Land Institute and Pricewaterhouse Coopers, DFW is the top area for commercial property investment in the United States, surpassing the coastal markets. Austin was second and Charlotte was third.
DFW is now the fourth largest metropolitan area in the US. The Metroplex created more jobs than many states last year, including adding more new net jobs than the entire state of California according to Mike Rosa at the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce.
DFW industrial continues to out-perform. The DFW market is the largest in the state and third in the US but it is newer than many of the other markets like Chicago, LA and the eastern markets. And it is in the Central Time Zone.
Fort Worth has a new friend – Facebook. The company announced that it will build its next data center at Texas I170 and Park Vista, just east of Cabela’s in Alliance. There will be three 250,000 s/f buildings on the 110-acre site. There is certainly room for expansion.
Activity on the Chisholm Trail continues to be fast and furious with Walton Communities kicking off its Chisholm Trail Ranch development. As one of North America’s largest land developers, The Walton Group of Companies has over 83,000 acres of land under administration and/or management. The company has broken ground on its first phase west of the Chisholm Trail on McPherson just south of our Summer Creek Station Development.
Walton donated 100 acres on the west side of the Chisholm Trail to Tarleton State University for a Fort Worth campus. Tarleton expects to have over 5,000 students at the school in 2-3 years. Design of the campus in underway.
NORTHWEST FORT WORTH/LAKE WORTH
Lockheed announced that it is undergoing a $1.2 billion (yes, with a “B”) capital expansion and reconfiguration of its facility across from our Landmark Lakes and Landmark Quebec developments. It expects to triple the F-35 production within two years. The expansion will add about 1,000 new employees.
On the Border closed on a site at Landmark Quebec. OTB is under construction and hopes to open in early 2016.
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS
The city disclosed details of the Iron Horse Station, the first of two stops within North Richland Hills on the TEX Rail 27-mile commuter rail project that will go from the Fort Worth CBD to DFW Airport.
Our area continues to be stronger than the rest of the nation but the national and international economies are dragging us down somewhat. That being said, as long as we continue to add jobs here we should be in good shape. I think we continue to expand for at least the next couple of years.