Each Wednesday, The Wrap presents a compilation of recent noteworthy
commercial real estate stories from a variety of publications.
Below are five stories that caught our eyes in recent days.

Hartman Simons Commercial Real Estate blog“Store
Opening Plans Reach Four-Year High, Report Claims”
by Elaine Misonzhnik of
Retail Traffic.

U.S. retailers’ store-opening plans hit a four-year high in
July, according to the latest “National Retailer Demand Monthly” report from
RBC Capital Markets and Retail Lease Trac.

Over the next two years, the retailers in RBC’s database are
expected to open a total of 78,325 stores. That’s an 11 percent increase over
store openings expected at the end of 2011, Misonzhnik reports.

Notable companies that plan to aggressively expand include discount
stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar and restaurant chains Subway, KFC
and Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries.

With tenant demand rising, the question of when the development
of new retail sites will take off arises, Misonzhnik notes.

“In
Texas’s Capital, Construction on Many Corners”
by Matt Hudgins of The New
York Times.

An unlikely city — Austin — finds itself at the center of
residential and commercial development in Texas, as the city’s diversifying
business center and popular entertainment scene bring more residents downtown,
Hudgins reports.

Gen-Y workers are drawn to more urban areas in cities across
America, and that’s certainly the case in Austin. Five hundred apartments are
under construction in the city, and more are in development. Apartment rents, at
an average of $1.10 a square foot, are the highest in the state.

There’s also an influx of office development, geared towards
high-tech companies such as Facebook and Google that have moved into the
central business district.

“Are
Clicks Cannibalizing Bricks?”
by Mark Heschmeyer of CoStar.

As retail begins to recover from the recession, many
companies are shutting down brick-and-mortar stores to focus their resources online.
That may be a mistake, Heschmeyer notes.

The American Marketing Association recently took a look at
whether stores hurt or help a retailer’s online sales. Its verdict: the stores
help.

“In the long run, sales in both the online and catalog
channels benefit from the presence of retail stores,” Dr. Jill Avery, lead
author of the analysis, told Heschmeyer. “The physical presence of a store
attracts new customers to the direct channels and encourages existing customers
to buy more.”

“VW
Adds $27 Million Center to Aid Expansion in U.S.”
by Alan Ohnsman of
Bloomberg News.

Volkswagen certainly is doing its part to help the nation’s
industrial sector. The European automaker opened a $27 million testing center
in Oxnard, Calif., on Monday as part of a $4 billion program aimed at boosting
its sales in the United States.

The center will initially be staffed by 50 engineers and
technicians, and 250 additional employees from VW’s other brands also will
eventually use the center.

Last year, VW, whose U.S. division is based in Virginia,
opened a $1 billion auto-assembly plant in Tennessee. It also has facilities in
Michigan and Arizona.

VW is pushing to be the world’s largest automaker by 2018.
In the United States, its sales trail those of foreign automakers Toyota, Honda
and Hyundai.

VIDEO:
“REITs Proceed with Caution in Regards to Financing”
from REIT.com.

In this clip, Andrew Nicholas, head of global property
securities with Colonial First State Global Asset Management, shares his views
on how deal making has changed since the recession. He also shares his
expectations for REITs in the second part of the year.

Visit REIT.com to view the clip.