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.

“Near-Term
Store Opening Plans Keep Increasing”
by Elaine Misonzhnik of National Real
Estate Investor.

U.S. retailers plan to open 83,749 stores over the upcoming
two-year period, according to a new report from RBC Capital Markets.

That number is a 2.1 percent increase in year-to-date store
opening plans. Toy stores, men’s clothing stores, hobby stores and pawn shops
are at the top of the list for retailers that plan to grow the most, Misonzhnik
reports. 

Individual retailers whose store opening plans will make a
significant impact on retail REITs’ property portfolios include Ulta, Bed Bath
& Beyond, Trader Joe’s, Nordstrom Rack and The Container Store, Misonzhnik reports.

“Buckhead
Atlanta project secures $167 million construction loan”
by Douglas Sams of
the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

OliverMcMillan recently secured a $167 million construction
loan for its Buckhead Atlanta project, a mixed-use development that will cover
six blocks in the Buckhead market of Atlanta, Sams reports.

The five lenders providing the financing are PNC Bank, N.A.;
CIT Finance LLC; Compass Bank; Regions Bank; and SunTrust Banks Inc. The loan
is one of the largest that has originated for a commercial real estate project
outside of Manhattan this year, Sams notes.

Originally headed up by a different developer before the
recession stalled its progress, OliverMcMillan took over the project in 2011
and restarted construction last August. The development recently got a huge
boost when it landed the headquarters of Spanx Inc., Sams reports. 

“First
Half Recap: Interest Rates Change REIT Market Dynamics”
by Carisa Chappell
of REIT.com.

REITs saw a strong start to 2013, but the outlook for the
second half of the year is not as bright because of rising interest rates,
Chappell reports.

“REITs were soaring for most of the first half of the year
as a modest economic recovery combined with limited new construction set a
solid foundation for operating fundamentals,” Jim Sullivan, managing director
and analyst at Green Street Advisors, told REIT.com. “[But] REITs got hit hard
as interest rates moved upward.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted earlier this
year that the federal government intends to pull back on quantitative easing
policies as the economy starts to improve, Chappell reports. 

“IRS
is Watching CBS’ REIT Conversion”
by Mark Heschmeyer of CoStar.

CBS Corp. plans to spin-off its billboard subsidiary, CBS
Outdoor Americas, into a separate REIT into which it would dispose of all its
common stock, Heschmeyer reports.

While the IRS studies current legal standards it uses to
define real estate for purposes of REIT conversions, it has put on notice firms
owning non-traditional real estate that are seeking to qualify as real estate
investment trusts, Heschmeyer reports.

As one of the largest lessors of billboards in the United
States, CBS Outdoor’s portfolio primarily consists of billboard displays. The
company has requested a private letter ruling from the IRS to be taxed as a
REIT, Heschmeyer reports.

If it doesn’t qualify, it will be subject to federal income
tax as a regular corporation, Heschmeyer notes. 

VIDEO:
Q1 2013 Retail Trends
by Victor Calanog of Reis

Victor Calanog, vice president of research and economics at
Reis, discusses trends in retail during the first quarter of 2013. Calanog hits
on the slow recovery of retail properties, market analytics and the status of
neighborhood and community shopping centers versus regional malls.