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Believeland – the Curse is Lifted!

I am not originally from Cleveland, but I married a Clevelander, so I’ve been regularly visiting Cleveland for over twenty years.  I have been a Cleveland investment property owner for over fifteen years and have lived in the area for over five years.  So, Cleveland is definitely home for me.

And I understand the pain of watching your beloved sports team come close enough to break your heart.  Well, Lebron James, Kyrie Irving and the entire Cavs team have quenched a 52-year drought and brought an NBA Championship to Cleveland.

CAVSThis is turning out to be quite a year for Cleveland – it has played host to presidential candidates, national news personalities and celebrities.  And in a couple of weeks, the GOP Convention will once again put Cleveland on the national stage.  We welcome the visitors and are proud to show them our brand new Public Square; let them lay their heads in one of our five new hotels sprinkled throughout the central business district; have them experience the ease and convenience of our regional transit system; and of course feel some Midwestern hospitality as we show them all that we have to offer.

And there really is a lot of offer.

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The Oscars Diversity Problem – Who’s to Blame?

It’s Oscar week and that means Vanity Fair parties, Russell Simmons’ All Def Movie Awards and numerous corporate and agency sponsored luncheons and receptions – culminating with the 88th Academy Awards this Sunday.  movie realFor the last couple of weeks much of the talk surrounding the Oscars hasn’t been around which movie will win best movie, but instead about the lack of minority representation in the top four category nominations. The media has made sure we knew who was boycotting the telecast and giving us their thoughts on what Chris Rock, the host of this year’s Academy Awards, should say on the topic.

Throughout these discussions the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has received a lot of flak. The Academy responded by changing their membership and voting policies. And many industry insiders have moved the discussion and blame from the Academy to the movie studios. Question. Are the movie studios to blame? If their goal is to make as much money as they can from each movie release by mitigating risk and taking what they consider safe bets – franchise films, sequels and remakes – are they to blame for a lack of diversity in Hollywood? Well, I am a commercial real estate appraiser so I can’t say with a fact that they are to blame. But, I do believe that real change in what the major studios produce likely won’t happen until the movie industry experiences a major downturn. As we saw with network television, low ratings led to the networks being more adventurous with their programming. And the result, was more diverse shows that better reflected the viewing audience.

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Greater Cleveland RTA: Saving Time and Money

It’s a horrible feeling to think you are going to miss the last direct flight home. This was me, a Sunday evening last month, as I sat in traffic in Atlanta on I-85 attempting to travel 30 miles to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Google Maps informed me that due to an accident, my originally scheduled 45-minute drive would now take 2 hours and 15 minutes. That extra hour and half added to my commute was the time allocated to return a rental car, get through security and tram it to my gate. As I crept along, all I could think about was how much I wished I’d taken the MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority).
Usually when I travel to the greater Atlanta area, my transportation preference is the MARTA. During the week, MARTA trains leave a station every 10 minutes and on the weekend every 20 minutes. On top of that, my ride from the last stop on the red line to the airport takes about 45 minutes and costs me $2.50. Quite a savings in time and money.

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The Mall – Still the Best Place to Buy a Gift.

Yes, the mall is still the best place to buy an anniversary gift, especially if your wedding anniversary is the day that you are doing the shopping.  I recently celebrated my wedding anniversary.  And as I have every year, I purchased my wife’s anniversary gift just in time.

BeachwoodPlaceThis year, I found myself traveling to three very different malls – Beachwood Place, an enclosed shopping mall; Legacy Village, an open-air lifestyle center and Eton Chagrin Boulevard, a mixed use boutique retail, dining and office space; all of which were no more than 4 miles apart.

Despite the rise in online purchases, shopping centers still account for over half of retail sales in the U.S.  However, the shopping mall experience has changed a lot in the last 25 years.  Today, there are roughly 1,000 enclosed malls and approximately 400 upscale lifestyle centers. These lifestyle centers are often serving as a suburban downtown providing retail, entertainment and community.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I Pick Planes.

I just got back from visiting a subject property in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Over 10+ hours, I drove a total of 600+ miles to go from FRG’s northeast Ohio office to the subject and back to our office.

CESSNA172If I would have flown, I could have left after breakfast and would have been back at the office in time for a lunch meeting.   It would have cost me about $285 more to rent a Cessna 172 and fly myself roundtrip to Grand Rapids. For me, flying – just makes good business sense.

There are 5,300 general aviation airports in the United States with 550 servicing commercial airline travel.  In Ohio, there are 104 public-owned, public use airports.  In northeast Ohio, Burke Lakefront airport is the country’s first downtown and first municipally owned and operated airport.  And even with dwindling air traffic it is still amongst the busiest airports in Ohio due to executive travel, professional sports team travel and flight school use.

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Autonomous Cars and Real Estate

Yes, I love my car.  My car is fully paid for.  No car payments for me.

2007 malibu

I am the proud owner of a 2006 Chevy sedan with over 115,000 miles.  Now I will note that I am starting to see small rust spots on the hood and trunk of my car.  And I have always had some sort of electronic gremlin that causes the doors to lock and unlock at will, whether I am in the car of not.  And I think the CD changer stopped working about 4 years into my ownership experience.  But despite all of this I love my Chevy.  And the reason why I love this car is it is 100% paid for – no monthly car payments.

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When People Stop Going to Church …

Church Transform

There are 350,000 religious congregations in the US and according to the Yellow Pages there are 1,433 religious institutions in the greater Cleveland area.  In Cleveland, as well as, across the nation church membership and attendance is declining.  This decline is not discriminating amongst denomination.  There has been a lot written and a lot of research conducted to uncover the reasons for the decline.  The findings range from – the cultural disappearance of guilt to too many online social options to the thought that occasional attendance is the same as regular attendance.  For whatever the reasons, in five years the percentage of people unaffiliated with religion has increased from 15% to nearly 20% and continues to rise.

So what does this mean for houses of worship?

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