Editors' Choice: The Very Best Bisnow Stories Of 2022

The stories that really mattered, the ones you might have missed and the ones we hope will enhance your perspective of commercial real estate.

Editors' Choice: The Very Best Bisnow Stories Of 2022

We lost our Bisnow CEO Will Friend in July. He was, among other things, a champion for this newsroom and one its key visionaries in the early days.

Bisnow did not always produce serious news, as he would put it, but it was his dream to infuse journalistic values into our business. Bisnow wanted the publication to take it more seriously. His vision was simple. If Bisnow produced well-reported hard news, then more people would read it. In turn, Bisnow would be a more valuable company in the industry.

When Will, then just 27, took over Bisnow's duties in 2015, he did it.

He and I created a wall between sales and editorial (separation church and state). I'm proud to say that during his tenure, the newsroom became a formidable force to be reckoned -- winning journalism awards, expanding its audience dramatically, and gaining credibility and relevance in the most powerful power circles in global commercial realty.

It was not easy. Over the years, I received text messages from Will every so often that contained a link to a Bisnow story and/or a competitor. I would then see the typing bubble on my phone and prepare myself.

What makes an advertiser angry?

"THIS IS AMAZING!" He might write, or 'Nailed' it or, even better: 'Love it when you're first. He loved those sentiments and sent them often. But sometimes he would send something more shaming, such as 'Are You Sure About This One?' Over the years, we had many more of these.

Sometimes our editors and reporters didn't have the story in mind, sometimes we upset advertisers, sometimes we misrepresented facts and sometimes we had to correct them. Will would often talk to me about stories that upset feathers. It always brought back our original agreement to pursue hard news that didn't kowtow or show favoritism to sponsors.

However, Will never gave up, as I stated over the summer following his death.

I've never worked with a person, other than a journalist, who was so committed to hard news and had the discipline to not interfere, even when the stakes were high. His trust in the team he created was a feat of courage, and for that I will always be grateful. He was the best partner anyone could have for someone like me.

Will doesn't send me text messages anymore. But if he did, he would be most proud of these stories. These are the deep dives that really matter, the big ones you may have missed, and the meticulous journalism he would hope would improve your view of the world CRE continues shaping.


Mark F. Bonner is Editor-in-Chief

:::::::: Bisnow 2022 DEI Data Series

Jon Banister, Bianca Barragan and Joseph Gordon. Miriam Hall, Olivia Lueckemeyer, and Dees Stribling.

Some difficult DEI questions remain over the commercial realty industry after the turbulent summer 2020. Which companies are doing it right? What is the point of the industry that determines how the modern world works and lives? Why is that important?

The Bisnow newsroom asked George Floyd these questions in the wake of his murder and subsequent protests. It also committed to a long-term effort to bring attention to the racial/gender inequality at the top of the U.S. real estate industry.

Three years later, these are the same questions we ask in our annual Bisnow DEI Data Series. An award-winning investigative program that has amassed unique data that continues to examine diversity in the boards and executive leaders of the largest real estate companies, it has also been a success story.

You can read the entire series here.

:::::::: Wall Street Pushes the Nation to Rentership, But Community Resentment and Pushback are Building

Jarred Schenke, Lane Gillespie, and Olivia Lueckemeyer. The rise in single-family rentals as institutional investments could have a significant impact on society. Will this impact be greater or less?

Jarred Schenke, Olivia Lueckemeyer and Lane Gillespie skillfully teased out the nuance of different sides: unhappy renters who claim Wall Street landlords don’t care and raise rents unreasonablely, SFR developers, who say this product can be an important tool to address the housing crisis, affordability, and NIMBYists, who fear SFR might change the tenor in existing neighborhoods.

You can read the entire story here.


As The Wealthy Return to Cities, Beach Resorts are Left with a Housing Mess

Miriam Hall, New York City reporter

Since the outbreak of the pandemic of mass migrations from large cities to areas with more space, more natural resources, much digital ink has been poured. When data began to show that people were returning home to major metropolitan areas, less articles focused on what the pandemic migrants had left behind.

Miriam Hall talked to the Hamptons' long-time residents to learn about the problems, including housing affordability and labor shortages. She also spoke with the public to see how they coped with the influx of wealthy urbanites into the Long Island beaches and then regressing.

You can read the entire story here.

:::::::: Biden's 100,000 Refugee Pledge Facing Hurdles in the Face of U.S. Housing Shortage

Jon Banister, East Coast Deputy Editor

Bisnow doesn't write stories that directly impact people's safety or security every day. But that's what happened when Jon Banister began covering the topic of refugee housing. Nearly 100,000 refugees fled war and strife in Afghanistan and Ukraine to the United States. But those who work to resettle these refugees warned that the country's housing crisis could cause a bigger domestic crisis.

The landlords who refused to waive background or credit checks for potential tenants was a major hurdle. While many refugees rented homes, they found them hardworking and model tenants. Jon, a Jon-related resettlement organization, said that there was no shortage of places that could take in refugees.

Jon's March story prompted him to hear from many landlords across the nation who expressed interest in helping and linked them with resettlement groups. We were surprised by his September follow-up report. It revealed that landlords had relaxed their stances and allowed refugees to live in their homes in greater numbers than ever before. This year, 98% of the approximately 80,000 Afghani refugees living in the U.S. found housing.

You can read the complete March story here, and the September follow-up here.


A new company is looking to shake up the hotel industry. Customers Call It a Scam

Ciara Long, New York City reporter

CorpHousing Group's announcement that it was master-leasing large hotels in New York City, D.C. caught our attention. We were not prepared for the reality that Ciara Long found under the surface. A company with less cash than $600, a trail full of lawsuits against vendors and employees, as well as dozens of customers who claimed they were charged for rooms they didn't stay in. After weeks of neglecting outreach, CorpHousing Group executives finally sat down for a 90-minute interview.

Between that interview, in which Ciara asked about the company’s hotel management experience, its branding as corporate housing provider, and the publication of the story, LuxUrban Hotels changed its name and hired a third party management firm to manage its New York hotels. The company also began to ignore its president, who was the only one at the company with any experience in the hotel industry. We learned that the executive also managed a non-profit that defends war criminals. He was removed from his position as executive at the company.

Although LuxUrban's size is still small, it is growing quickly and taking over hotels that are bankrupt or closed. It is determined to become a major player within the hotel industry. Ciara's reporting has given its customers and future business partners a better understanding of who is in which bed.

You can read the entire story here.

:::::::: Amazon Cripples Building Materials Supply Chains, Sends Shockwaves through Construction Industry

By Olivia Lueckemeyer, Dallas-Fort Worth Reporter

Olivia Lueckemeyer, working from a short aside by a Bisnow panelist, realized that Amazon's fervent need for building materials was causing a severe supply chain crisis in the construction sector. Although Amazon has since retreated from building new facilities, she still made the case that Amazon had the upper hand in the market for everything, including steel joist, deck materials, concrete, and left everyone else fighting over scraps. This story was a hit with our readers and will be one of Bisnow’s most-read stories in 2022.

You can read the entire story here.

:::::::: The Two-Years of Pandemic Have Changed Everything for Women in CRE

By Miriam Hall and Olivia Lueckemeyer.

Some women gained new freedoms due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, including the ability to pursue new opportunities and gain long-awaited change and flexibility at work.

Too many people saw the crisis as a matter of plus ca, plus c’est la meme chose. After years of hard work, women in traditionally male-dominated industries saw their gains diminish as they had to manage childcare responsibilities and homeschooling. They also lost important facetime and promotions in the office and struggled to get new business. Many left the industry out of frustration. Some, particularly women of color, and those who were subject to harassment from men at work, found remote and hybrid work to be a relief. One woman asked, "What's wrong? If women fare better during a catastrophic pandemic that's going back women in the workforce a generation?"

Bianca Barragan, Miriam Hall, and Olivia Lueckemeyer spent several months talking to over two dozen CRE professionals in the weeks leading up to the anniversary of the pandemic’s onset. They shared powerful personal stories about how the virus entered their lives.

You can read the entire story here.

:::::::: Pensions Increase Real Estate Investments to Seek Returns Despite a $1T Shortfall

Bianca Barragan is the Southern California Reporter

Storytelling begins with questions. Journalists often have a hypothesis when reporting a story. Sometimes, however, the end result is often unexpected. Bianca Barragan, one of the largest investors in commercial realty, set out to investigate how pension funds, which are some of the most prominent, are changing their strategies amid historic funding shortages and a shift in how office properties are valued and used. In the face of a $1T funding gap, she discovered that pension funds were increasing their real estate investments. This was not what she expected. This story is not only informative about how these funds invest but also reminds us to follow the story wherever it takes us.

You can read the entire story here.

:::::::: Meet Deano - He's got a problem. Soon, it will be commercial property.

By David Thame, UK Reporter

David Thame excels at explaining the wider economic and social trends that affect commercial real estate to readers with flair, and making them understandable. He shows here how the UK's debt-linked problems, nicknamed Deano (or everyone in the UK), will soon begin to filter through and impact real estate owners.

You can read the entire story here.

:::::::: Fort Belvoir Families File Class-Action Suit Over 'Horrific' Conditions In Private Military Housing

By Jacob Wallace, D.C. Reporter

"How can any military family reach that point?"

Raven Roman's story opens with a story about Raven Roman who, after discovering ants, slugs, and dangerous mold in their Fort Belvoir family home, filed a class action lawsuit against two private military housing contractors. Jacob Wallace, a reporter, attempts to answer this question through a powerful feature story. He explores the legal proceedings involving Fort Belvoir's management and examines the more complicated history of privatized military housing in America and its failed attempts to reform.

You can read the entire story here.

:::::::: Trump Investigation Reveals More Secretive Way Commercial Properties Are Valued

Jon Banister, East Coast Deputy Editor

Cushman & Wakefield was ultimately entrapped in an investigation into several drastically altered property valuations of Trump properties. A judge ordered them to turn over documents related both to their Trump appraisals and those on comparable buildings. Cushman appealed and claimed that the work it does is 'intensely exclusive, private, and confidential financial data. Cushman was held in contempt and turned over 36,000 documents. Jon's story and the lawsuit raised the issue of secrecy during appraisals. It also revealed how appraisers are subject to pressure from large property owners.