Here’s Talking Points for Wednesday, May 17. We’ll fill you in on the stock market’s reaction to the latest White House news -- it wasn’t pretty. Keep reading to learn who’s been crowned the new burger king. There were layoffs at some of the most familiar names in specialty publishing. We’ve got more on that, plus Jon Chesto takes a look at the future for suburban malls.
Chesto means business
Shopping for a good deal: The future of suburban malls is playing out at the intersection of Routes 3 and 53 on the South Shore.
This is a tough time for mall owners, who can no longer rely as heavily on their big department store anchors. They need to get creative.
The executives at PECO Real Estate Partners knew this when they acquired the Hanover Mall last fall for $39.5 million. The JCPenney was already gone, and the future of the Sears stores is unclear, PECO vice president Lloyd Sova says. But PECO has a plan. Turn the property into a 100-acre, open-air experience where all the shops can be accessed directly from the parking lot. Maybe add more entertainment options such as new restaurants.
PECO has pledged to invest an additional $40 million in the redevelopment, but the firm wants something in return: a property tax break for the new construction, one that would result in the town issuing a stream of rebates to the mall owner. Sova says the break would enable the company to borrow more money, and thus invest more in the project, providing a better end result for the town.
Sova declined to say how much he’s seeking. Negotiations continue with town officials, with the goal of preparing a package for a town meeting vote on June 19.
Only a handful of retail projects received these local tax breaks statewide in the past two years. Fall River offered something similar to a mall owner in that city, but on a smaller scale.
Given the growing challenges that most owners of enclosed shopping malls face, this proposal in Hanover probably won’t be the last one.
Trump turmoil: US equity markets tumbled today, rattled by political turbulence in Washington.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 373 points, or 1.78 percent, a mere two days after a record setting finish. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 159 points, or 2.57 percent. The S&P was off 44 points, or 1.82 percent. The dollar fell, while Treasury yields tumbled to 2.222 percent.
There’s concern President Donald Trump’s tax break agenda will stall as his administration deals with calls for an investigation over alleged interfered with the FBI’s probe of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Coincidentally, as investors dumped stocks, former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke told a Las Vegas audience he was “puzzled” by how little markets were reacting to political risks.
Deep learning: General Electric and Partners HealthCare are collaborating on a 10-year initiative to bring artificial intelligence to health care.
Researchers from GE and Partners will begin by developing software permitting doctors to interpret medical images faster and more accurately. The researchers are working on “deep learning technology,” when computers pore over large amounts of data and “learn” to work fast and accurately.
Over time, GE and Partners wants to develop applications for genomics, population health, and other areas of medicine.
New vista: Vistaprint, a Waltham-based company selling business cards and other custom publishing products, is opening a 125-person office in Rhode Island.
The Providence Journal, which first reported the story, said Vistaprint will be seeking tax credits from the state in exchange for creating new jobs. The state’s commerce secretary didn’t say how much the company was seeking.
Burger king: McDonald’s may have served billions, but a new poll names Five Guys as America’s favorite burger chain. Unlike the dethroned king, In-N-Out, a West Coast cult, you can hit a Five Guys while in Talking Points territory.
Household borrowing soars past pre-recession high:Debt tops $12b, sign of economic strength -- New York Times
CIO, Macworld, Computerworld cuts 90-plus jobs:IDG layoffs follow purchase by Chinese investors -- Boston Globe
Cosi eatery faces critics post bankruptcy:Sandwich, salad chain performance problems persist -- Boston Business Journal
Ford cutting jobs by 10% to boost earnings, stock:Automaker aims to save $3b in 2017 -- New York Times
Google digital assistant available on iPhone:Direct challenge to Siri and play for high-end customers -- Reuters
New bidder for Stonyfield:Mexico’s Grupo Lala is in advanced talks to buy the yogurt maker -- Boston Globe
Damn, that traffic jam: Boston’s building boom is going to make Boston’s bad traffic even worse.
As housing complexes go up, cars belonging to new residents and commuters could choke roads, the Globe reported today. Here’s just one example. The redevelopment of the old Boston Edison power plant in South Boston into a housing, retail, and office complex is projected to add about 9,000 daily car trips.
A relatively dense and transit friendly city, Boston’s roads are jammed with hundreds of thousands of people who drive to work each day. What’s more, 45 percent of Boston residents drive within the city by car. And most city motorists drive alone (apparently it really is hard to get to know people in Boston).
The city is focused on giving residents reasons to leave their car behind -- Hubway stations, car-share parking, shuttle buses. Last week, the Boston Planning & Development Agency approved a 12-unit apartment building in Mattapan that will run a shuttle to the Forest Hills MBTA stationTalking Points newsletter is compiled by Edward Mason. Follow him on Twitter at @EBMason. If you like what you've read, please tell your friends to sign up.