Amazon pledges $2 billion for affordable housing in three US cities – ET RealEstate

SEATTLE: Amazon has announced $2 billion in loans and grants to secure affordable housing in three U.S. cities where it has major operations, including a Seattle suburb where the online retail giant employs at least 5,000 workers.

Amazon said it would give $185.5 million to the King County Housing Authority to help buy affordable apartments in the region and keep the rents low, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

The agency is expected to pair bond funding with the $161.5 million in loans and $24 million in grants from Amazon to fund its recent purchase of three apartment buildings, including 470 units in Bellevue, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Seattle.

Other tech companies have invested large sums recently to boost affordable housing, following years of complaints that they have worsened inequality in cities by pushing housing prices higher.

Two years ago, Microsoft launched its own initiative and is spending $750 million to help provide market-rate or below-market-rate loans to developers who want to build affordable housing in the Seattle area.

In the latest effort by Amazon, money also was directed to Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee, where it has hubs. Company officials projected the $2 billion would preserve or create 20,000 affordable housing units over the next five years.

The funding will “help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said.

While Amazon and Bezos have given large amounts toward affordable housing and homelessness services, including opening a homeless shelter on the campus of its Seattle headquarters, the company has also drawn scorn for successfully pressuring the Seattle City Council to rescind a tax on large companies that would have funded homelessness services in 2018.

Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority, said affordable housing is often renovated and rents are increased, worsening economic and racial segregation.

“This is a long strategy ensuring … that this community doesn’t get hollowed out,” he said.

Norman added that the money is estimated to cover about 45% of the cost of the three apartment buildings.



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Fidelity Investments renews lease with Xander for 3 lakh sq ft space in Bengaluru – ET RealEstate

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MUMBAI: Fidelity Investments, the American multinational financial services major, has renewed a lease for 3 lakh sq ft office space for its headquarters at twice the rentals being paid currently, said two persons with direct knowledge of the development.

The company has inked the deal with Xander Investment Management, the owner of the commercial office building Pinehurst at Bengaluru’s Golf Links Business Park.

Apart from the rentals, the deal assumes significance given that the financial giant has struck a 10-year long-term lease two years ahead of the expiry of its existing lease in 2022 and terms have been locked now.

“The new lease has been signed at around Rs 150 per sq ft per month and includes certain upgrades to be undertaken at Pinehurst, to provide highest quality occupancy experience to Fidelity,” said one of the persons mentioned above.

Pinehurst has been Fidelity’s headquarters in India since 2004 and houses its senior leadership.

This property was acquired by Xander Investment Management’s office properties platform in January 2018 in line with its strategy to acquire well located assets that can be upgraded into institutional assets with long-term stabilized returns.

The property is part of the 65-acre Golf Links Business Park and Goldman Sachs, IBM and Microsoft are some of the other notable occupiers in the vicinity.

ET’s email queries to both Fidelity and Xander Group remained unanswered until the time of going to press.

Transaction advisor CBRE South Asia declined to comment for the story.

Fidelity Investments commenced operations in India in 2003. As a global in-house center of Fidelity Investments, it has been supporting the group’s global businesses and customers in the US market from its offices in Bengaluru and Chennai.

The Indian commercial real estate market has shown resilience as indicated by the rising net office take up despite the impact of ongoing pandemic on the business environment and the emerging challenge of the Work-from-Home model.

This renewed interest in the country’s grade A institutional office space by global occupiers shows that Covid-19 has not deterred them in terms of their expansion plans in India.

Last week, Amazon leased nearly 2.6 lakh sq ft in Mumbai’s Vikhroli suburb in a combination of a lease and an option to lease additional space. Last month Standard Chartered GBS leased 7.7 lakh sq ft in an upcoming office project of DLF in Chennai that has emerged as one of the strongest office markets in recent years.



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EY looks to lease three million sq ft office space in Bengaluru – ET RealEstate

BENGALURU: Professional services firm EY is looking to lease 3 million sq. ft. in Bangalore to consolidate and expand its India back office operations.

The new facility would seat 30,000 employees and also host the company’s global delivery services centre.

”The firm has shortlisted some builders and the deal is likely to be closed soon, ” said a person familiar with the request for proposal.

According to people aware of the plans EY is looking to either set up a company-owned campus or rent out office space in North Bangalore.

“The firm is open to both renting and owning the commercial property totalling to 25 acres, ” said another person aware of the deal.

EY currently occupies 1.1mn sq ft office space across commercial properties in Bengaluru.

The firm has around 35,000 employees working out of different locations in the country and is looking to ramp it further.

At EY global development centres, executives work across functions like finance, business development, technology, talent, procurement and risk management functions to help deliver solutions to global clients.

The firm currently has about 9 global development centres in India in cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Gurugram, Kochi, Kolkata and Trivandrum.

EY is one of the very few multinational firms that have gone ahead with the office expansion despite the business uncertainties.

Some of the large MNCs that have leased spaces in the past six months include Amazon, WellsFargo, GSK and Google.

According to Colliers International report, Commercial office absorption is seeing uptick in demand across the top six Indian cities, with Q3 2020 gross absorption at 6.5 million square feet (msf), up 58% QOQ. Bengaluru contributed the majority of the transaction followed by Hyderabad and Delhi-NCR.

The rise in leasing activity signals that occupiers are returning to the drawing board to close ongoing deals that were stalled earlier.

However, during January-September 2020, gross absorption fell 46% YOY to 22.5 msf due to the prolonged lockdown in the country.



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Amazon leases 2.8 million sq ft space in Bengaluru, Chennai & Mumbai – ET RealEstate

BENGALURU: Amazon has leased about 2.8 million square feet of space in Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai to expand its offices in India as online customers shop more frequently and with larger baskets.

The Chennai office will come up in the Brigade World Trade Centre. In Mumbai, it has signed a long-term lease agreement for space at Godrej Two in Vikhroli suburb.

“Amazon has some immediate requirements and has locked in property across multiple locations. These properties are expected to be up and running in 2021,” said one person aware of the deal.

This is the third such transaction by Amazon since the lockdown.

The company also finalised 900,000 sq. ft. of office space in Bagmane Rio in Bengaluru.

“Amazon plans to utilise the new space to grow in India and cater to its global operations. India still remains highly attractive due to cost arbitrage and a high-quality talent pool for MNCs to set up offices here,” said another person aware of the deals.

The e-commerce behemoth already occupies over 10 million sq. ft. of office space in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Gurgaon.

Commercial deals for over 11 million sq. ft. have been finalised in the past three months in India and there are additional requests for proposals for another 8 million sq. ft. of office space.

Large deals concluded across Indian cities recently include those by Google, Accenture, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley and Standard Chartered Bank.



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