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.

“Sporting
Gun Stores Aim for Steady Growth with Little Contraction”
by Mark
Heschmeyer of CoStar.

Strong gun sales over the past few years have driven
specialty retailers to expand and other retailers to devote more square footage
in their stores to firearms, Heschmeyer reports.

In some cases, specialty retailers like Cabela’s, Big 5
Sporting Goods and Gander Mountain have been able to fill vacant space left by
big box stores, Heschmeyer notes.

Big 5 Sporting Goods opened eight stores across the western
part of the country last year, ending 2012 with 414 stores. In 2012, Gander
Mountain opened eight new stores, mostly in the Southeast, bringing its total
to 120 stores nationwide, Heschmeyer reports.  

Recent events have brought increased debate over gun
control, but also have driven gun sales as enthusiasts react to potential stricter
purchase regulations, Heschmeyer reports. These high sales have made forecasting
future sales challenging, according to the retailers.

“Mixing
Bricks with Clicks”
from The Economist.

Online retailers are increasingly looking to be “multichannel”
by bringing their products to brick-and-mortar stores, The Economist reports.

One example is Kiddicare, an Internet-based retailer of baby
products, which has expanded to physical stores because parents often like to
handle the products, such as car seats, before buying them, The Economist
reports.

For products that don’t need to be displayed in a showroom,
online retailers have the advantage. They get to forego the costs of a physical
store, but often spend more in advertising to have their digital storefront
seen, The Economist notes.

Online retailers are now aiming for the benefits of physical
stores without all of the added costs, experimenting with small-concept stores
and pop-up shops, The Economist reports.

“Study
Finds Mixed-Use Areas Safer Than Commercial Only”
by Emily Badger of Urban Land.

Mixed-use communities have lower crime rates than
commercial-only areas, according to a new study published in the University of
Pennsylvania Law Review.

Commercial-only areas had crime rates 45 percent higher than
similar blocks that included residences, according to the report.

Some say this is because people take more ownership over an
area where they both work and live over an area where they would only go to
work or shop, Badger reports.

Others say mixed-use communities offer more “eyes on the
street” because they have traffic at more times throughout the day, Badger
notes. 

“Micro-Apartments
in the Big City: A Trend Builds”
by Venessa Wong of Bloomberg Businessweek.

A growing number of single-person households has urban
planners experimenting with micro-apartments in North American cities, Wong
reports.

Single-person households made up 26.7 percent of the U.S.
total in 2010 versus 17.6 percent in 1970, according to Census Bureau data.

Some areas, like San Francisco and Boston, are waiving
zoning regulations to allow for smaller apartments, Wong reports. 

“In the foreseeable future, this trend will continue,” Avi
Friedman, a professor at McGill University’s School of Architecture, told
Bloomberg, noting that more people are opting to live alone and North Americans
are learning to live with less space.

“Net
Zero Energy: Making Green Look Passe”
by Robert Carr of the National Real
Estate Investor.

Buildings that not only reduce energy consumption but also produce
enough to offset that consumption, termed “net-zero buildings,” are gaining
traction, Carr reports.  

These buildings maximize green features such as natural
lighting and efficient HVAC systems while also usually incorporating one or
more energy generators like solar panels or fuel cells, Carr reports.

Firms experimenting with net-zero buildings are often
choosing warmer climates because there won’t be spikes of energy use that are
seen in colder areas. California has been the choice of firms like Hines and
HGA Architects and Engineers for their net-zero sites, Carr reports.