David Weinreb, CEO of the Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC), participated in a video interview at Nareit’s REITweek: 2018 Investor Conference in New York.
Weinreb said that Howard Hughes Corp. hasn’t yet seen any impact from rising interest rates on its master planned community segment. He noted that with about 7,600 acres of land to sell, plus its residential land components, the company is pleased with the demand drivers in its communities, especially since Las Vegas and Houston are two of the nation’s fastest growing cities.
“To the extent that interest rates do ultimately have some effect, we feel like the diversity of product that we’re able to offer across the board helps mitigate [them],” Weinreb said.
Weinreb noted that the company is the “largest land owner” in its master planned communities, meaning it controls its own ecosystems, builds all product types, and essentially controls supply and also price. He described The Woodlands in Houston, a 28,000-acre development with 120,000 residents as “the size of a nice suburban city in the United States.”
In April, ESPN opened new studios in Howard Hughes Corp.’s Seaport District in New York, and is now broadcasting several shows, with eight planned in total. Weinreb says the company is “very excited” about ESPN’s presence, adding that it’s allegedly the highest rent ever paid in lower Manhattan.
“Whenever they’re broadcasting, on an hourly basis they have to say they’re coming live from the Seaport,” Weinreb said. He said that the Seaport has extensive programming planned, including a summer concert series featuring Sting, Shaggy, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, and Deadmau5, with Kings of Leon and Amy Schumer opening the new rooftop concert venue on August 1. The company is also opening a venue called 10 Corso Como, the only one of its kind in the United States, which will launch along with New York Fashion Week in September.
Weinreb added that Schermerhorn Row, one of the buildings in the district, was an original site of the World Trade Center several hundred years ago. “We’ve really embraced the history of the Seaport,” he said. “Our goal is to have offering after offering that you wouldn’t typically find anywhere else in New York.”