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.

“Falling
Rental Income Drives Office Expenses Down”
by Carisa Chappell of REIT.com.

Total operating expenses for office buildings dipped nearly
4 percent from 2011 to 2012 as owners and managers reacted to a 2.9 percent
drop in rental income in the same period, according to a new report from the
Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA).

In addition to reducing operating costs for repairs,
cleaning and administration, office owners and managers also are focusing on
maximizing energy efficiency, Chappell reports.

New York was the most expensive market for operating
expenses in 2012, followed by San Francisco, Washington, Santa Monica, Calif.,
and San Jose, Calif. The least expensive markets included Salt Lake City,
Atlanta, Phoenix, Cincinnati and Nashville, Tenn., Chappell noted.

“CRE
Construction Recovery May Gain Steam after Slow Start”
by Randyl Drummer of
CoStar.

Commercial construction will likely increase in the remainder
of 2013 and in 2014, predicts Fitch Ratings in a new report.

Fitch projects private non-residential construction will
grow only 2 percent in 2013, but will rise 5 percent in 2014.

Wet weather is partially to blame for the slow start to
2013, but financial and credit standards are loosening and CMBS issuance has
picked up, Drummer reports.

Still, the multifamily sector is leading the charge. “Much
of the new present and future construction activity in the commercial sector is
largely the result of activity in a single sector — the full pipeline of
apartment and condominium projects in many markets,” Drummer writes.

“Hostess
Properties Are Sold”
by Maura Webber Sadovi of The Wall Street Journal.

Hackman Properties, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment
firm, will pay $62.5 million for the 140 vacant properties that once made up
the Hostess Brands Inc. empire, Sadovi reports.

Hackman specializes in turning around distressed industrial
properties and is expecting to resell most of the properties within the next
year to manufacturers and bakeries, Sadovi reports.

“The deal is the latest sign that the improving economy is
giving investors confidence they will be able to flip even the riskiest
properties for higher prices, a practice that was common before the financial
crisis,” Sadovi writes.

“Is Barnes
& Noble Heading the Way of Borders?”
by Elaine Misonzhnik of National
Real Estate Investor.

After the recent announcement by Barnes & Noble founder
Leonard Riggio that he will not buy the retail portion of the business,
industry analysts are concerned about the future of the country’s last
remaining big-box bookseller, Misonzhnik writes. 

In the first quarter of fiscal 2014, Barnes & Noble’s
same-store sales in its core retail division fell 9.1 percent, and the
company’s management expects this trend to continue, Misonzhnik reports.

As of April, the chain had 647 full-line stores, and 136 had
leases set to expire next year, Misonzhnik reports.

There’s a need for bookstores, but the chain’s stores are
too big for current demand, according to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail
consulting firm Davidowitz & Associates Inc.

“Making
Bank on Day Cares and Charter Schools”
by Mark Heschmeyer of CoStar.

The robust single-tenant market has investors exploring
secondary property types in the hopes of gaining higher yields, Heschmeyer
reports. 

“With substantial capital available and limited
opportunities, institutional funds are exploring different avenues of capital
deployment to reach acquisition goals,” John Feeney, research director of The
Boulder Group, said in a recent report.

Recent notable deals have included bank branches, day-care
centers and even charter schools, Heschmeyer reports.

Investors are still showing much interest in fast-food
restaurants. Single-tenant fast-food eatery sales in the first half of 2013 are
outpacing those of the same period a year ago, Heschmeyer reports.