Vacant Former Wal-Mart in East Dundee Receives Rezoning Approval
Based on Gruen Gruen + Associates analysis and testimony including a review of revolutionary changes in the retailing sector, the Plan commission and Village Board reversed their prior decisions and approved the zoning and use of the former Wal-Mart store for industrial uses.
Nina Gruen Moderates the Women's Leadership Initiative (WLI) Panel in Newport Beach, Orange County
Nina Gruen moderated a five-member panel of distinguished women professionals who have experienced the building and real estate industry from every generation - millenial and beyond.
Transform Milwaukee Plan Receives APA Award
The Transform Milwaukee Strategic Action Plan was awarded by the American Planning Association – Wisconsin Chapter under the Plan Document category. GG+A served as the market and economic development advisor on the strategic planning team. Read here.The final strategic action plan can be found here.
Challenges to Attract Millenial Labor to North Shore Highlighted in Chicago Tribune Article
Northbrook and other nearby suburbs have a hard time making millennials happy even if the transportation hurdle is cleared, Deerfield-based economist Aaron Gruen said. Read the full article here.
GG+A Finds Intensive Use of Land in La Plata County Can Support Additional Office and Industrial Development
The La Plata County Economic Development Alliance retained GG+A to evalute the market demand for office and industrial uses in La Plata County, Colorado. GG+A evaluated the demand for additional space and identified locations to accommodate the forecast space demand. GG+A also identified strategies to facilitate the attraction and retention of office and industrial uses. Read article here.
GG+A's Apartment Demand Forecast on Track
GG+A projected market demand for apartments in Brookfield, Wisconsin. GG+A's projection is on track to be realized with several new developments proposed or in the development pipeline. Read article here.
GG+A Presents Results of County Housing Needs Assessment
The Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission hired GG+A to conduct a housing needs assessment for Des Moines County. The assessment identified the problems or deficiencies in meeting housing needs and the factors contributing to these problems or deficiencies. GG+A's assessment provided the basis for establishing housing objectives and identifying and selecting housing strategies to alleviate the identified problems. GG+A also provided the information needed to submit an application for the County to be designated as a “distressed” workforce housing community.Read article here.
Brookfield, Wisconsin Development Drives Job Creation
The City of Brookfield is seeing a spurt of new development that will result in signficant job growth including the expansion of Milwaukee Tool. Read article here.
WOMEN in the Workplace THEN AND NOW: A Conversation with Nina Gruen
CREW's conversation with Nina Gruen about about women in the workforce and her experiences. Read article here.
Nina Gruen’s recently published book, Believe It or Not: The Challenges Facing One Professional Woman a Half Century Ago, is now available on Amazon
Women had to put up with some pretty crazy circumstances if they wanted to go beyond the fields of nursing and teaching to join the “men’s club” of the 1960’s and ‘70s. Take a personal look at a world that many female professionals today may find hard to believe existed not so long ago.
Nina Jaffe Gruen, a pioneer in behavioral market research and analysis – and a woman navigating an all-male business environment – shares her battle stories to remind women just how far we’ve come and proves just how valuable it is to retain a sense of humor.
You may not find yourself hiding in the ladies’ room when big shots from headquarters come to visit your firm, but take it from someone who did: we’ll know we’ve achieved gender equality when women have the right to be as incompetent as men!
GG+A Estimates Multiplier Impacts of Milwaukee Tool Expansion
The Village of Brookfield, Wisconsin hired GG+A to estimate the economic impacts of a major expansion of Milwaukee Tool's corporate headquarters. Read article here.
Huntley Outlet Center Highlighted in Mall Article
Read how Chicago area malls are responding to the surge in on-line shopping. Read article here.
Aaron Gruen Cites Benefits of Agglomeration in ConAgra's Headquarters Move to Chicago
Read Aaron's quotes regarding the benefits of industry cluster with respect to ConAgra's headquarters relocation from Omaha to Chicago. Read article here.
GG+A Assists Huntley, Illinois with Reuse and Redevelopment Options for Huntley Outlet Center
The Village of Huntley has retained GG+A to evaluate potential reuse and redevelopment alternatives for the 75-acre Huntley Outlet Center which is currently for sale. Read article here.
GG+A Presents Recommendations for City of Wheaton's First Economic Development Plan
GG+A presented to the city council for the City of Wheaton, Illinois strategies and actions the city can take to maintain and enhance its existing housing stock and the desirability of its residential neighborhoods, while preserving and augmenting other elements of its economic and fiscal base. Read article here.
Nina Gruen's Executive Summary Interview with ULI San Francisco
Nina Gruen sits down with ULI San Francisco to discuss her real estate career and offer advice to others.
Gruen Gruen + Associates Assists Village of Wilmette with Evaluation and Selection of Developer for 611 Green Bay Road
Based on GG+A's evaluation and recommendations Wilmette has selected M&R Development to buy 611 Green Bay Road consisting of just under one acre of land for $4.1 million. M&R Development will construct a 94-unit apartment project with first floor retail space. Read here
Southern Illinois Airport Takes Off With State of Illinois Financial Backing
Based on GG+A's recommendations in its 2013 development plan, Southern Illinois Airport has received a commitment to receive $4.5 million from the State of Illinois to develop an Emergency and Critical Response Center at the Southern Illinois Airport in Carbondale. Read here
Nina Gruen's Presentation on Seismic Demographic Shifts and Their Impacts on Real Estate Markets
If you’re interested in learning how the Millennials’ demographic and emotional characteristics will impact their retailing, housing and employment product preferences, with an emphasis on retailing, click here
What you’ll hear and see is a 45-minute webinar that Nina Gruen presented for the YPO/WPO on the topic of “Seismic Demographic Shifts Impacting Real Estate in the Coming Decade.”
Wheaton Hires GG+A for Its First Economic Development Plan
Wheaton, Illinois, a suburban Chicago bedroom community, hired GG+A to complete a comprehensive economic development plan for the City including identifying strategies that encourage reinvestment and redevelopment in Wheaton's housing stock. Read here
Southern Illinois Aims to Reach for the Sky
Southern Illinoisan editorial touts GG+A's development plan recommendations for Southern Illinois Airport to realize its potential. Read editorial here.
Got Questions? Ms. Real Estate Has Answers
Wouldn't it be convenient if someone had clear, intelligent answers to most of your CRE-related questions? Problem solved. Nina J. Gruen, a.k.a. Ms. Real Estate, a.k.a. the Principal Sociologist overseeing market research and analysis at Gruen Gruen + Associates, is here to answer questions.Have a question, want to make a comment, or look at some of Ms. Real Estate’s previous wise solutions to problems? Read Ms. Real Estate here
Nina J. Gruen Added to Real Estate Forum Editorial Advisory Board
Members of the editorial advisory board will engage the GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum audience through news articles and features including new columns like Dear Ms. Real Estate from Nina J. Gruen who brings a fresh perspective to commercial real estate. Read about the appointment here
Highland Park will wait for more detailed proposal on its troubled theatre
Read about how Gruen Gruen + Associates is providing evaluation and negotiation support to select an adaptive reuse for the theatre
Southern Illinois Airport Looks at Further Development
Read about how Gruen Gruen + Associates assisted Southern Illinois Airport and Jackson Growth Alliance planning for development around the Airport with its land use and development plan.
After Redevelopment: Filling the Void in California
Read about how Gruen Gruen + Associates contributed to ULI's report titled "After Redevelopment New Tools and Strategies to Promote Econoic Development and Build Sustainable Communities" which provides recommendations on a comprehensive set of tools to promote economic development and build sustainable and healthy communities.
Check out ULI's San Francisco blog "Stellar Advice From 15 of the Best in Real Estate"
Nina Gruen led a roundtable discussion at October's Learn from the Best event. Read Nina's insightful advice regarding demographic trends impacting development and public policy around the country. Read here
Wilmette Reaches Agreement for Redevelopment of Green Bay Road Property
Read Gruen Gruen + Associates represented the Village of Wilmette in the review, evaluation of developer proposals, and the selection of the recommended developer/development proposal.
Union City Station District Worth the Wait
Read about how Gruen Gruen + Associates has helped the Union City Station District
UP Rail Yard Report on Plans' Economic Impact
"A report by an economic consultant commissioned by the Arizona State Land Department says that state trust land adjacent to acreage being considered for sale to Union Pacific Railroad (UP) for a switching yard would be affected by the sale and that infrastructure improvements to adjacent land should be paid for by the purchaser of the rail yard property. Produced by Gruen Gruen + Associates, the report was designed to give the State Land Department a review of existing reports that had been conducted by Union Pacific in its effort to purchase 900 acres of state trust land for the rail yeard. The report noted that because the sale of the land for the Classification Yard (switching yard) would generate negative impacts, the department should consider establishing an 'impact zone within which feasible mitigation measures should be considered.' It identified an impact zone around the 900 acres as 'an area within one-half to a mile of the proposed Classification Yard that will experience negative environmental, property value and other impacts.'" Read the full article here
Study on Arizona Rail Project Says Potential Limited
"PHOENIX- There would be limited potential to develop state trust land near the southern Arizona landmark of Picacho Peak as an industrial park if Union Pacific Corp. is allowed to buy some of the property for a new railroad switching yard, according to a study released Monday. The report by consultants hired by the state Land Department said a value set on the site should probably depend on its unique value to the railroad, not the expectation of a larger payoff from development of adjacent trust land. Suggestions by Union Pacific that the state could benefit by developing adjacent trust land for industrial use may be too optimistic, according to the report by Gruen Gruen + Associates" Read the full article here
Land Deal in Works for Freight Yard by Picacho Peak
"And that creates additional problems, as consultant Aaron Gruen pointed out there already is a glut of industrial property in the area. He figures that it would take 17 years to use up what's available now. And that's assuming a growth rate twice as fast as what's occuring now. Gruen said that, in turn, undermines claims by the railroad that the switching yard, planned since 2006, will generate close to 300 direct jobs and 6,000 indirect. He said that, at best, allowing Union Pacific to build the yard might generate fewer than 100 direct jobs. And Gruen said even that claim of indirect jobs on warehouse and other industrial uses is based on flawed assumptions. Gruen said that value could be based on the 'unique benefits UP will derive from the site.'.... 'According to UP, it faces a signficant scarcity of alternatives,' Gruen said. 'And the site is actually the best location for UP classification yard.'" Read the full article here
Planned Rail Yard Near Picacho Peak Gains Steam
"Economic consultant Aaron Gruen, of Gruen Gruen + Associates, said the company's projections did not come close to standard methods and were not supported. Union Pacific said building the site will cost $250 million, generate 290 immediate jobs and be finished 'quickly.' Over the next 20 years, Red Rock will create 6,000 indirect jobs and $26 billion in economic activity, the company said. But Gruen found that there is a glut of industrial space already in Pinal County that won't likely be filled until 2040. Studying other Union Pacific classification yards, he concluded that none induced spin-off industrial development. Furthermore, rail freight generally passes through Arizona, and there is no reason to expect a freight logistics center near Picacho, he found. 'This is not likely to generate significant industrial development...any time soon,' Gruen said." Read the full article here
The WLI Talks to Nina Gruen, ULI’s First Female Trustee
Nina Gruen was ULI’s first woman trustee, elected to that post in 1982. Check out the WLI interview with Nina Gruen here
Planning Award for Central City Master Plan
In July 2012, GG+A was selected to receive an APA-WI Chapter Award for their work on Waukesha’s Central City Master Plan. The jury commented that the plan “is an excellent example of planning rigor applied to multidisciplinary analysis with a practical result. History, context, vision, implementation, all well done.”
“Retail is the area that will change more than any other,” says Nina Gruen, a sociologist and principal, with her economist husband Claude, of the San Francisco-based consultancy Gruen Gruen + Associates. “Even with economic recovery there will be a radical downsizing of space needs, coupled with a refocus of location to where the future populations will live and work.”
Gruen lays this downsizing and relocation to four powerful trends: the rise of online shopping and purchasing; slower sales growth overall because households will no longer be able to tap home equity as a source of credit; declining population in the peak retail spending years; and logistical advances that favor home delivery and reduce the need for on-site storage.
A close follower of population trends, Gruen puts great weight on the downsizing of the American family, so that “by 2020 only 11 percent of households will have children living at home.” Retired baby boomers are moving to smaller quarters, she explains and the “echo boomers” (aka Millennials or Gen Y-ers) are deferring marriage and childbirth for reasons both economic and personal. These two age cohorts comprise over half the U.S. population.”
With primacy of place eroding the ancient act of shopping, forecasters are urging urban planners and developers to find other activities that bring people together. Nina Gruen, a sociologist turned real estate consultant, urges developers to devote at least one-third of any new or reconfigured mall to services and entertainment.
Her favorite New Age tenants: dog spas and dine-in movie theaters that serve gourmet meals to couples seated at candle-lit tables tucked away in private booths. Says Gruen, “You can’t get that on the Net.”
Noodling Housing and Economists
The fundamental issue is this: Where is the next customer going to come from? Who are they? and, “How can I meet this consumer and sell them my product? It is, as my economist hero, Lugwig von Mises wrote in Human Action, “The market is supreme.”
My second favorite economists are good friends and fellow associates on many projects; they are Claude and Nina Gruen. Neither has let time push them around, they are still as feisty and irreverent as ever when it comes to the failings of our anointed leaders. They both continue to produce excellent books and studies on the development industry. Claude’s recent Rutgers University imprint is New Urban Development (buy here). It attacks the church of entitlements and points a finger at those that allowed all of the past five years of silliness to happen. It is an economic history course on America’s development past, thorns and roses all.
Nina, on the other hand, has coauthored (with Alan Billingsley of Americas Research) one of the best and most readable essays on the current marketplace in America, titled; Boomers, Echo’s and X’s:Generational and other Structural Shifts and Their Impacts on Future Demand for Real Estate in the Coming Decade. Nina has forgotten more than most of us have learned about development. I won’t go into the broad study in detail but it does look at the three most dominant generations (i.e. those with the money), listed in the title. She takes a broad cross section through the development industry and teases out interesting details that will be helpful in the coming decade. A caveat that runs through the paper is the development industry’s Prime Directive: “Location, location, location” as always, drives regional markets. I will add just one more word, “and Timing.”
June 24, 2011
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Predictions Made by GG+A about Haverhill's Restaurant and Residential Potential to Come True
Haverhill, Massachusetts is experiencing an economic transformation as hundreds of new apartments and condominiums have moved into the city's old factories and the burgeoning restaurant district has expanded. Read article here.
Capital Market Recovery Will Take Time, but Could Start in 2010
Aaron Gruen, principal of Gruen Gruen + Associates, a Chicago-based economics, strategic marketing and land use/public policy analysis firm, told CoStar Group that: "Real estate market demand for many markets and uses can be expected to be weak over the next few years. Foreclosures are rapidly rising. Transactions/development was limited in 2009 but should increase in 2010. Core assets have already been repriced and some liquidity from balance sheet lenders is returning, but underwriting standards will be much higher and therefore highly leveraged transactions will be constrained."
"Historically, real estate was viewed as an income-producing asset that provides an inflation hedge and is not correlated strongly with equity securities," Gruen said. "It may be the pension and other groups investing in real estate funds will find this historic role appealing and focus on backing groups using relatively low level of leverage and buying well located core assets perceived to have less risk in the short term and better long-term potential to produce long-term cash flows. These kinds of properties are priced lower than has been the case for at least five years. But those that do not need to sell will hold on to them."
"Perhaps, given the stress and adjustments required, it will simply take some more time for sellers to become motivated and buyers to raise and place capital," Gruen continued. "After all, [the] Great Recession has permanently altered consumer, investment, and governmental behavior. Both public and private sector interests which influence land use and economic development need to reset their models and practices to work out projects and plans affected by the Great Recession and to respond to the opportunities the economic recovery will present. But this will take time and not be easy."
January 13, 2010
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Jack London Square’s future remains uncertain
“The success of the project will really depend on the kinds of tenants they end up attracting,” said Nina Gruen, a real estate and marketing consultant in San Francisco. “I would say it’s a possibility that the project will succeed. I would not say that it’s a probability.”
San Francisco Chronicle
December 14, 2009
Downtown Reno development: Coming and Going
Others say Reno should embrace the success of restaurants and bars because they could rally the recovery of Reno's core. Even though people have cut back on purchases, "they will want to go out and have some fun," said Aaron Gruen, a leading economist, now in Chicago, who helped prepare the city's ReTrac plan to rebuild a large swath of Downtown.
"If the restaurants are doing well, they should do what it takes to keep them strong and look for things that would benefit from that traffic. It may be a different kind of retailing than what Reno traditionally had," he said...
Gruen was criticized in 2007 for predicting a wave of newly approved condo projects could collapse and sales for downtown condo units would total no more than 200 a year. But he was right: Several major projects fell by the wayside, and the Montage was taken over by the bank.
Gruen still believes young people and empty nesters will gravitate to living downtown. "Downtown has to evolve to serve workers, residents and nondowntown residents," he said. "They will be attracted because of cool things to do, and certain stores will benefit."
The Reno Gazette-Journal
December 5, 2009
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REITs Back in Capital Markets -- Looking for Higher Leverage Loans
“Aaron Gruen, an Advisory Board Member of the Real Estate Capital Institute notes, "The Great Recession has permanently altered consumer, investment, and governmental behavior.
"Both public and private sector interests which influence land use and economic development need to reset their models and practices to work out projects and plans affected by the Great Recession and to respond to the opportunities the economic recovery will present."
November 2, 2009
GG+A Presents Findings About Market and Economic Issues Facing McDowell Road Corridor in South Scottsdale
Based on market and economic research of various development scenarios GG+A recommended to the McDowell Road task force a number of land use policy changes to stimulate redevelopment along the corridor. Read article here.
October 15, 2009
Romeoville Selected as a Finalist for the National League of Cities 2009 Award for Municipal Excellence
The Village of Romeoville (IL) has been recognized as one of 34 finalists for the National League of Cities 2009 Award for Municipal Excellence. The Village has been nominated for its Foreclosure Mitigation Program. Prior to establishing the Foreclosure Mitigation Program, the Village of Romeoville retained Gruen Gruen + Associates to work with the Romeoville Department of Community Development to evaluate the housing foreclosure problem in Romeoville and to identify actions that could be taken to address the problem. GG+A prepared a strategic action plan for the Village and helped formulate the framework of the program which the Village has subsequently implemented.
August 6, 2009
McDowell Road Corridor Summit in South Scottsdale Focuses on Potential for Redevelopment
Aaron Gruen presents findings and review of corridor's assets, demographics, and market potential. Read article here.
April 15, 2009
GG+A Presents Market Study Findings Regarding Brookfield Wisconsin's Southern Gateway Area
Based on market research GG+A recommended additional multi-family housing to enhance the area. GG+A's market study will be used by the city to create a long-term land use plan. Read article here.
March 24, 2009
Oakland Bags Land to Lure More Retailers
Even if the market is leaking sales dollars, Oakland must pick locations carefully considering that retail vacancies are rising everywhere, said Nina Gruen, a retail consultant with San Francisco-based Gruen Gruen + Associates.
"If you have a really good location that would be sound at almost anytime, then this would be an ideal time to do planning," Gruen said. "If you're talking about a not-so-good location, or even a semi-good location, it's not a good time because it will compete with all the retail space that's going to be vacant."
San Francisco Business Times
March 6 - 12, 2009
Retailers Delay Opening New Stores
Tenants have an advantage in the market, but retailers are weighing their options, said Nina Gruen of San Francisco-based Gruen Gruen + Associates, a retail consulting firm. In the last six months, the firm has seen an uptick in retailers comissioning market research reports.
"Retailers have become relatively cautious, and that means they will probably do a smarter move," she said. "They are more concerned about asking, 'Is this the right market for me?'"
San Francisco Business Times
February 6 - 12, 2009
Another Big Tower Slated for Transbay
Land use consultant Nina Gruen of Gruen Gruen + Associates said the growing demand for downtown housing from "baby boomers and Generation Y" make the
site viable. "The market is not in great shape, but we think it will be by
the time they get through selecting the developer and going through the
entitlement process," she said.
San Francisco Business Times
August 8 - 14, 2008
Sharper Image seeks bankruptcy protection
Sharper Image Corp., the iconic San
Francisco retail chain known for selling R2-D2 interactive droids,
vacuuming robots and air purifiers, has filed for bankruptcy protection,
the nadir of a long descent sparked by a critical review of its hottest
product. The company was a consumer phenomenon in its heyday. Customers would
excitedly scan the latest Sharper Image catalog for the newest gee-whiz
gizmos or flock to its stylized stores to test and tinker with
thousand-dollar massage chairs or hundred-dollar headphones. The company's
Ionic Breeze air purifier products, which promised a healthier atmosphere
in one's home, all but jumped off shelves. But it was those same purifiers that led to the company's undoing...
...The slowing economy and growing fears of a recession are [also] contributing to
Sharper Image's woes, as shoppers become increasingly cost conscious, said
Nina Gruen, executive vice president and co-founder of San Francisco
research firm Gruen Gruen + Associates. "They're not going out and spending frivolously right now," she said. "Impulse today is gasoline. They're not about to buy Sharper Image."
San Francisco Chronicle
February 21, 2008
Rebates: To spend, or not to spend?
Retailers saw dollar signs flash before their eyes when President Bush this week signed the economic stimulus package that will provide tax rebate checks of up to $600 for individuals.
No one is sure, however, whether consumers will put their cash in the bank or run to stores when the checks start arriving later this year...
...As far as merchants go, retail consultant Nina Gruen of San Francisco-based Gruen Gruen + Associates said that low-end and high-end shops will see the most benefit. "If people are very nervous about the economy when they get their rebates, then they will do what they did with gift cards after the holidays. They bought very basic commodities," she said.
Contra Costa Times
February 15, 2008
The Real Estate Capital Scoreboard - December 2007
Chicago, Illinois – December 3, 2007 - ... Aaron Gruen, member of The Real Estate Capital Institute® Editorial Advisory Board comments, "The re-found recognition and re-pricing of risk will in the long run be healthy for market participants. In the short run, the heightened sensitivity to risk means borrowers will need to show the assumptions (fundamentals) underlying the transactions have a basis in the relevant space markets and can withstand predictable potential changes in market and operating conditions.” He adds, “As the de-leveraging process proceeds and markets become less volatile probably in the first half of 2008, additional liquidity and competition will return to the lending market."
The Real Estate Capital Institute
December 3, 2007
Panel to Help Pave Way for Illinois 47 Project
An economic development advisory panel agreed Thursday to help Kane County officials obtain state funding for a tollway interchange project in northwest suburban Huntley.
A tentative construction deal is being negotiated with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, Kane County and the other local governments affected by the proposed interchange improvement at Interstate Highway 90 and Illinois Highway 47, said Phil Bus, executive director of the Kane County Development and Resource Management Department. Under the plan, Kane and those governments would be responsible for reimbursing the authority for about half of the $64 million estimated construction cost, Bus said.
He said Kane officials are looking to the area's state legislative delegation, via the still-pending state capital budget, to help secure half the $32 million in matching funds needed for the project.
Bus received assurance from members of the Kane County Economic Development Advisory Board that they would join in the effort to lobby local legislators.
The I-90 interchange with Illinois 47 is one of three proposed access improvements included in Kane's "Troika Interchange Project," including I-90 at Brier Hill Road and I-90 and U.S. Highway 20, in Hampshire.
In a preview Thursday of three improved I-90 interchanges at Brier Hill, Illinois 47 and U.S. 20, consultant Aaron Gruen, of Gruen Gruen & Associates, of Deerfield told Kane advisory board members that enhancements could mean thousands more jobs and several hundred million additional dollars in labor income for the corridor. A draft of the paper based on Gruen's study is expected to be released in mid-December, said Chris Aiston, Kane's economic development director.
November 9, 2007
Gap's Fisher's Proposal Would Add to S.F.'s Museum Galaxy
Donald Fisher's proposed contemporary art museum in the Presidio would add a bright star to San Francisco's growing and eclectic collection of museums - from the recently rebuilt M.H. de Young Memorial Museum to the new, scrappy Beat Museum in North Beach and everything in between. The city's museums have seen a raft of expansions, renovations and startups in the past decade and the investment in them is showing no sign of slowing.
It's paying off, say some observers who note that the expanding network of museums is replacing the more traditional venues that draw visitors to San Francisco. "San Francisco's museums have become its really strong icons," said Celeste DeWald, executive director of the California Association of Museums. "The museums have become a part of the personality of the city.... When people think of San Francisco, they think of the Golden Gate Bridge and the museums."
Fisher's museum could be one of the biggest attractions when it opens, perhaps in three years. Among the city's more than 60 museums, Fisher's proposal would be as unique as it is impressive.
"Adding the Fisher collection is on a very different scale than anything else; it's one of the best contemporary art collections in America," said Nina Gruen, an urban economic, real estate and marketing consultant, who studies museums' economic impact on cities.
Gruen said that while all of San Francisco's cultural facilities make unique and important contributions to the city, people will travel long distances and stay overnight to see something like the Fisher collection. Compared to other San Francisco museums, Fisher's would have a different personality.
Excerpt from the San Francisco Chronicle
August 9, 2007
Antioch Big-Box Store Faces Hurdles
The developers of Antioch Marketplace, a proposed retail development that could bring Target, Lowe's and Kohl's to 75 acres on Route 173, have more steps to take before the 600,000-square-foot shopping center becomes reality.
The retail development is proposed by Antioch BB LLC, a group made up of a dozen companies formed by Chicago developer V-Land Corp. Recommended for approval by the combined planning and zoning board, the property will have to be annexed and rezoned before the village board takes final action. The developers had wanted to break ground this year and open the majority of the stores by spring or summer of 2009. Target, Lowe's and Kohl's are all signed tenants.
The development will also include Staples, Pet Smart and Shoe Carnival. "We have commitments for 75 percent of the space. That's phenomenal and reflects a pent up demand by retailers for a development like this," said development partner Andy Goodman. Goodman said the development will have huge economic benefits. The projected sales tax revenue three years after build out is $1.5 million to the village, and property tax revenue that goes primarily to the school districts will top $1.8 million.
Economist Aaron Gruen interviewed downtown merchants and prepared a report that predicts Antioch Marketplace will positively impact downtown Antioch if shoppers are directed to the downtown area. "Downtown specializes in eating, drinking and specialty items and shoppers from Antioch Marketplace will be attracted to that." He explained that the new development would draw shoppers and diners from other communities. It will also keep Antioch shoppers in Antioch, he said.
The Chicago Sun Times
August 2, 2007
Our View: 'Old' is Not Always 'Historic'
HAVERHILL, MA - Haverhill, in the middle of a downtown renaissance, needs to take care not to confuse "old" with "historic". The city's Historic Commission is seeking a demolition delay ordinance that would make developers wait one year before demolishing a building deemed historic. During that time, the city would work with developers to see if they could find alternatives that would preserve the building. The City Council, which must approve the ordinance, has sent it to the Planning Board for review.
The ordinance contains no clear definition of what constitutes a "historic" building. It says only that the building must have economic, social, political or religious importance or have architectural significance. That's a broad enough definition to cover virtually any building preservationists deem fit...a structure even just a few years old could conveivably qualify.
Historic Commission members who advocate for the ordinance say they have no intention of stunting development in Haverhill. There is never such an intention behind these ordinances, but that is often the result.
Urban economist Aaron Gruen, who wrote the city's master plan for revitalizing the downtown, noted in a report that healthy cities maintain useful buildings while replacing obsolete structure - that is, a balance between the old and new is needed. Cities stagnate when "places are treated like historical museums," he said. Haverhill, under the leadership of Mayor James Fiorentini, is trying to attract investors to convert long empty mill buildings into shops and condominiums. The plan is showing some success and is key to developing new tax revenues.
The Eagle Tribune
August 2, 2007
Officials: DuPage Airport a Growth Engine
More than 20 years ago the DuPage Airport Authority's decision to purchase surrounding land sparked controversy. Some said the spending was unnecessary and excessive, but the airport, nevertheless, grew from 900 acres in 1985 to 2,800 acres by 1992. Airport officials now say the advanced planning paid off.
"The long-range planning in the 1980s led to the airport being well-positioned," said Michael Masciola, the DuPage Airport Authority's director of business and marketing. The airport sits on DuPage County's far western border near St. Charles in Kane County and wraps around the Pheasant Run Resort, located at the southeast corner of North Avenue and Kautz Road.
A 2006 economic and fiscal study projected that by the year 2011, the airport will generate $1.1 billion in economic activity for DuPage County's economy and $1.6 billion for surrounding counties such as Kane, Will, Cook, Lake and McHenry. Although DuPage Airport is adjacent to the city of St. Charles in Kane County, residents in Kane pay no property taxes for the airport, according to Masciola. By 2011, about 8,960 jobs are expected with 4,580 of those directly attributable to the airport such as pilots, mechanics, and other related aviation jobs, in addition to the jobs located at the airport's technology park.
The airport's 2800 acres (four and a half square miles), include 1,200 acres for the airfield itself. In 2006, the airport, a technology park and the 18-hole Prairie Landings Golf Course created $373 million in local spending and generated 2,960 jobs, according to the study commissioned by the airport authority.
"Airports alter the actual economic bases of regions," said Aaron Gruen, a principal with Gruen Gruen + Associates, the firm that conducted the economic and fiscal study.
"The fact that senior executives can get easily on their jets is one reason that they're still here," said Gruen.
The Doings Hinsdale
June 28, 2007
The Plan to 'Brand' Downtown
HAVERHILL, MA - With 200 new downtown homes already occupied and hundreds more in the pipeline, planners are now looking to add to the city center more retail stores, restaurants and professional offices for all the new and future residents.
The official blueprint for the area's burgeoning revitalization will be presented to the public for the first time Wednesday by urban planning expert Aaron Gruen of Chicago and Mayor James Fiorentini's downtown task force.
"We want to hear from people who live, work and own businesses in the Downtown," said Economic Development Director William Pillsbury, who served as chairman of the mayor's task force. Pillsbury said the master plan is the start of the revitalization process and that the intention is to use it to attract and recruit specific kinds of businesses, such as book stores, clothing and shoe botiques, and specialty groceries and restaurants.
"The report looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the downtown, the supply in terms of what's already there and the demand for new services we believe the new residences are going to create," Pillsbury said. "The idea behind the plan is to create a new 'brand' for downtown as a lively place to visit, shop and eat".
The Eagle Tribunte
June 27, 2007
Man With the Plan Hired by Haverhill
HAVERHILL, MA - An expert on downtown revitalization is arriving from Chicago this week, and for $50,000 is going to create a master plan with a goal of making the city's center flourish. Aaron Gruen of Illinois was hired by Mayor James Florentini using $50,000 in private donations, some coming from developers building condos downtown. Florentini wants Gruen to provide answers to how Haverhill will finish the revitalization of downtown - which the mayor has called 'a renaissance'.
Millions of dollars have been invested downtown in private investment, from restaurants to new condominiums. A massive 450-spot parking garage is in the works, as well as plans for a boardwalk to tie Washington and Merrimack streets to the Merrimack River waterfront.
Gruen will provide retail suggestions and zoning-law proposals that attract development, among other tips, the mayor said. Gruen has worked on about 250 master plans in his career. He graduated from the University of Chicago and has a law degree from DePaul University.
The mayor said local consultants were interviewed, but Gruen won out. "We were just very impressed with this man," Fiorentini said.
The Eagle Tribunte
April 9, 2007
The Real Estate Capital Scoredboard
Aaron Gruen, an Advisory Board Member of the Real Estate Capital Institute notes "Given the compression in cap rates is unlikely to continue, income growth will matter more for investors to achieve desired returns. Selecting markets with favorable demand-supply conditions and assets with potential for increase in income is increasingly important."
He adds, "San Francisco and Silicon Valley are examples of markets where employment and space demand increases are translating into increased occupancies and rents."
The Real Estate Capital Institute
The Art of The Deal, With Strings Attached
Artist and newly minted developer Jonathon Keats sparked the new real estate boom by applying the string theory model of physics, which asserts that all matter is made up of vibrating strings, to the development business. A key component to string theory is that there are six or seven additional dimensions beyond the three dimensions of space...the result: a vast amount of space in these extra dimensions that, theoretically speaking, could be the foundation for a new wave of speculative development.
Turning string theory into a real estate opportunity, Keats tied up the rights to the extra dimensions above six San Francisco Bay Area properties...within the first three hours, 32 buyers ranging from art dealers and curators to business executives and lawyers plunked down a total of $410.51 for 172 lots.
Among the buyers were Nina and Claude Gruen, co-founders of San Francisco-based Gruen Gruen + Associates, a real estate consulting firm that specializes in urban economics, market strategy and land use/public policy analysis. Moreover, the couple was among the property owners who originally sold their extra dimensions to Keats. As Nina J. Gruen, the firm's principal sociologist tells it, several months ago the artist came over and said he wanted to buy the sixth and above dimensions of the Gruen's building on Howard Street in San Francisco.
"It's just a spoof of the real estate market.", Gruen said. "The three dimensions we all know about, which are height, width and [depth], those didn't count, so basically I was quite willing to sell the dimensions above six."
Keats paid $8 plus change for those higher dimensions. But Gruen, an avid art collector, said she would never cash the check because its real value is as an art piece. In line with that, the Gruens bought back a small percent of their dimensions at Keats' opening. Of course, the Gruens' developer clients are more accustomed to dealing with the lower dimensions. What would they make of all this?
"I think they'd think it's funny, if they understood conceptual art", Gruen replied.
California Real Estate Journal
Replacing zoning means offering something better in its place, such as state, county, or municipal comprehensive plans. But as economist and attorney Aaron Gruen of Gruen Gruen + Associates in Deerfield, Ill., points out, those plans can go wrong if they're based on opinion and not hard research.
"Everywhere we work, between Chicago and Southern California," he says, "we've seen a tendency for comprehensive plans to be based on individual rather than community-wide concerns."
Gruen notes that simply replacing zoning with a comprehensive plan many not improve the environment for construcion, unless builder incentives are part of the picture.
"In many cases, the builder faces the same obstacles working on an infill site as he does on a greenfield," Gruen says. "But if your plan permits four-story homes instead of three on the infill site, all of a sudden the numbers work."
"Another thing that's not done enough is to give people trade-offs when developing the comprehensive plan rather than visual preference surveys," Gruen adds. "Most planners show a picture of Paris, then a weed-strewn field, and ask which type of place people like best."
Offering various trade-offs as part of the comprehensive plan, by contrast, lowers expectations, he says, and makes projects far more likely to get off the ground.
DuPage Airport Authority Board Chairman Says Report a 'Milestone'
WEST CHICAGO - A study released Monday said that the DuPage Airport Authority would have a projected $1.63-billion impact on the metropolitan area's economy in 2011, compared to the 2006 figure of $373 million. The airport and its facilities - including the new DuPage National Technology Park and Prairie Landing Golf Course - also are expected to increase the area's employment by 5,910, said consultants Gruen Gruen + Associates and the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory of the University of Illinois in the report.
[Gruen Gruen + Associates] said the 2011 projections are based on forecasted growth within operations at each of the entities that make up the DuPage Airport Authority...One of the consultants, Debra L. Jeans of Gruen Gruen + Associates, said that the DuPage Airport Authority economic-impact figures - in both the 2006 calculations and the 2011 projections - also rely on what are known as economic multipliers...she called the multipliers used by the consultants "very reasonable."
"We certainly feel very comfortable that we can defend this report," Jeans said at the news conference. "In 2011, due mainly to the development of the technology park and additional hangar space, property-tax revenue [alone] is estimated to increase by 470 percent or [by] $3.4 million to nearly $4.1 million," the report said.
Kane County Chronicle
February 13, 2007
City Gets Ideas on Projects for Former Railroad Land Along Downtown Trench
"As for retailing, the city should concentrate on its emerging riverfront and build up shopping there", said Aaron Gruen, an economic consultant hired by Freedman. "The biggest challenge is to concentrate it, not scatter it."
December 2, 2006
Fremont Looking to Score Status Points if A's head down 880 /
Economic Impact not big bonus for major-league cities
"By and large, the deals made to retain or attract sports teams are rarely beneficial to a municipality", says Claude Gruen of Gruen Gruen + Associates, a San Francisco firm that specializes in urban economic analysis. "Oakland's done well the past few years. If it loses traction, it wont be because the city 'lost' the A's."
San Francisco Chronicle
November 7, 2006
Westfield San Francisco Centre Fashionable Expansion - Bringing the Shoppers
Back to Downtowns
...Although Los Angeles, Chicago and New York have successful urban malls, not all cities are equipped to handle them. Nina Gruen said there are a number of factors that play into a customer's willingness to shop downtown. For instance, there must be a perception that the area is safe. There must also be other activities to hold the customer's interest.
"If the city is in pretty good shape, it'll be a good place for an urban center, but if it's in (bad) shape, it's not going to save a city," she said.
San Francisco Chronicle
September 26, 2006
H&M Brings its Stylish Affordability to Sunvalley
..."There's something different in the window every day," said Nina Gruen, a retail and consumer behavior consultant with San Francisco-based Gruen Gruen + Associates. "They train their customers that if they don't buy it right then and there and you wait a week, then you won't find it."
Contra Costa Times
May 12, 2006
Mervyns to Shut 62 Stores to Focus on Core Market
..."They get really hurt in this type of consumer environment," said Nina Gruen of Gruen Gruen + Associates, a San Francisco-based economic consulting firm. "It's very hard. The problem is demographically, the American middle-class keeps shrinking."
..."It may be too late for Mervyns to turn its business around," Gruen said.
"What (Mervyns) did well was serve the middle," she said. "The only thing they can do is locate their stores in the places where they have the right demographic."
Contra Costa Times
September 8, 2005
Study: Colleges Pack Punch
...Until the Lea County Community Improvement Corporation recently engaged Gruen Gruen + Associates to execute a study on College of the Southwest and New Mexico Junior College's economic benefits, no one knew for sure whether these claims (that they have a far-reaching economic impact) were accurate.
...Deerfield, Ill.-based Gruen Gruen + Associates did the study from March through June, according to analyst Avi Nagel. While this is one of the first times the firm has examined the impact of educational institutions, Nagel said it's often examined the effects of shopping centers, museums and new subdivisions.
The report's purpose, he said, is to show the benefits the area receives from having the colleges.
"Public institutions such as colleges or airports take tax dollars, and community members might be concerned the tax dollars might be going to waste," Nagel said. "But I think it's clear from the report these are two of the more important institutions in Lea County."
CSW president Gary Dill said the study provides validation of administrators' claims regarding the value of the colleges.
"Gruen and Gruen, with their reputation, provides reliable data for people to read and draw conclusions for themselves," he said.
September 4, 2005
Gas prices soar in wake of hurricane
Hurricane Katrina's upward pressure on California gasoline prices will only exacerbate a cost trend that has far outpaced, and increasingly drawn money from, other consumer expenses for the past half-decade.
...After hitting an inflation-adjusted low in 1999, the price of regular unleaded in California has surged 38.4 percent in the 10-county Bay Area, well above overall inflation of 12.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the same time period, the cost of apparel declined 9.4 percent, groceries grew 12.1 percent, rent increased 16.3 percent, and medical care jumped 25.5 percent.
The increased cost of gasoline -- which with oil constitutes 12 percent of driving costs per mile, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics' 2004 annual report -- has already cut into retail spending.
"They're not going to move out of their homes, if they have a medical problem eventually they have to do something about it, so obviously it comes out of vacations, services and other forms of retail," said Nina Gruen, a retail consultant at San Francisco-based Gruen Gruen + Associates.
James Temple & Blanca Torres
Contra Costa Times
September 1, 2005
Fashion Outlets Say Bling-Bling's the Thing
...Accessories have always been big business. It's why Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus pack their ground floors with purses, jewelry, shoes, cosmetics and other items likely to trigger an impulse purchase. But retail experts say demand for accessories is surging as well as shifting upscale -- and stores are taking notice.
..."Retailers love it," said Nina Gruen, a retail consultant at San Francisco-based Gruen Gruen + Associates. "They're going to get a much higher mark-up on a purse, pair of shoes or jewelry than they will on a clothing item."
Contra Costa Times
May 1, 2005
Planners Think Hinsdale Can Promote Assets
...Hinsdale officials should promote such village advantages as location and abundance of high-end housing to potential developers of office space, said Aaron Gruen, principal of Gruen Gruen + Associates. The authentic Main Street look and pedestrian-friendly quality of the downtown area should be selling points for commercial developers.
Trustees also should complete a parking survey to decide on valet service or a garage with first-floor retail space, Gruen said.
"They need to do some parking studies and figure out what the best options are," he added.
Grant and Gateway Squares benefit from being close to a residential area. Grant Square profits from being near the downtown area as well and having plenty of parking. Gateway Square, while also having convenient parking and a high volume of traffic because of its proximity to Ogden Avenue, lacks visibility and good accessibility for drivers, Gruen said.
Other ideas included attracting more restaurants, a home furnishing store, grocery stores and other shops geared toward baby boomers. Kramer Foods should expand, and a signature restaurant should be added to Grant Square, Gruen suggested.
..."When you have a relatively small share of large groups, it's a good idea to find out what they're doing," Gruen said in an interview after the meeting.
Testimonials from successful businesses could be used in a marketing effort, which can come from a part-time economic coordinator, Gruen said. Both Gruen and Twitchell believe Hinsdale could benefit from hiring a coordinator. They said village staff doesn't have the time or specific expertise to achieve the type of economic growth Hinsdale could have.
"A coordinator could help staff with that so they're using their time more productively," Gruen said.
February 24, 2005