The Registry Magazine—Monthly Columns by John McNellis

McNellis: Playing Small Ball
September 20, 2014
Making it in Real Estate Part Three: Playing Small Ball. “I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.” -click here to read-

McNellis: Goodbye Yellow Cab Road
August 28, 2014
If you’re a nostalgia fan, nail a selfie in front of a Yellow Cab because in a few years the only place you’ll … -click here to read-

McNellis: Doing it on the Side
July 22, 2014
Making it in Real Estate Part Two: Doing it on the Side Are we in the wrong business? On the “Best Jobs in America” lists, a career in... -click here to read-

McNellis: Making it in Real Estate
June 24, 2014
Over a beer last week, a young friend recounted his progress with a retail development firm. I was surprised to hear how much he had learned and how much responsibility he already had. -click here to read-

McNellis: House of Tax Breaks
May 30, 2014
Urban myth says the family of a condemned man in China must pay for the bullet that executes him. In America, we actually do buy the bullets for executions. Through tax breaks and a lack of regulation, we are handing Tech the golden bullets it needs to assassinate bricks & mortar business. -click here to read-

McNellis on Crimeless Victims & Tyranny in Palo Alto
April 16, 2014
In this month’s McCutcheon case, a compassionate Supreme Court restored the civil rights of the wealthiest 1,000 political donors in America, namely their First Amendment right to buy elections. -click here to read-

McNellis: Don’t Cry for Argentina
March 11, 2014
Confucius has been mistranslated for 2500 years. The master didn’t really say, “When prosperity comes, do not use all of it.” The correct translation is, “Never buy a second home.” -click here to read-

McNellis: ePup
February 19, 2014
Time to throw the internet a bone. And maybe a handful of Kibble. -click here to read-

McNellis: A Great Year to Unload Crap
January 2, 2014
There are bad ideas—say, ordering spaghetti on a first date. And there are worse ideas, like telling someone what you really think of his fiancée. And then there are truly terrible ideas, like oh say, budget skydiving. -click here to read-

McNellis on Amazon’s Global Designs
November 13, 2013
John Goodman pitched his new series, Alpha House, on The Daily Show last week. Ordinarily, a talk show guest selling his wares is about as newsworthy as government incompetence. But this had a twist. Alpha House is Amazon’s latest venture—original content for the Web. In the actor’s words, the show is part of the company’s far-reaching plans for “world domination”. Goodman modestly called himself just a “cog” in Amazon’s war machine. -click here to read-

McNellis: Bankrupt Values
October 8, 2013
Fresh & Easy, a supermarket chain of 200 stores, filed for bankruptcy last week. Unlike most bankrupts, F&E has no third party debts, no fraying lines of credit and neither hounding banks nor outraged bond holders. Why? -click here to read-

McNellis Shines Sunlight on Solar
September 4, 2013
Solar power and fishing share the same sparkle: Like fish in the sea, sunlight is free. But just as a handful of “free” salmon caught outside the Golden Gate might easily cost $200 a fish to actually catch, converting sunlight to power remains about as economic as fishing from an aircraft carrier. -click here to read-

McNellis: Lawyers’ Labors Lost
August 7, 2013
Lawyers are losing ground, perhaps faster than many of us realize. According to CBRE Group Inc.’s most recent San Francisco office leasing survey, law firms gave up 50,000 square feet in the first half of 2013. -click here to read-

McNellis: Partying Like It’s 1999
July 17, 2013
Instacart, a San Francisco start-up, announced it had received $8.5 million in institutional funding last week. The company is a same-day home-delivery service... -click here to read-

McNellis: Pounded by Junk
June 23, 2013
Retailer Restoration Hardware sent me a glossy, shrink-wrapped brochure—junk mail—so heavy I had to weigh it. Addressed to “Occupant,” my postal... -click here to read-

McNellis: Real Estate Safe As Milk
May 7, 2013
Two old guys are sunning themselves on a Miami park bench, the first bragging about the $5 million his insurance company paid him after his building burned. In reply, the second retiree mentions the $15 million he was paid after a flood destroyed his building. The first man purses his lips, is quiet for a while and then asks, “How do you start a flood?” -click here to read-

McNellis: Desperately Chasing Yield
April 17, 2013
To paraphrase a vulgar aphorism, self-delusions are like opinions—everybody has one. Some have many. Self-delusions are sometimes tragic—consider the starving anorexic who considers herself fat. Occasionally they are merely sad—picture the badly aging athlete certain he is good for another season. And some self-delusions are highly entertaining. Despite being a perennial finalist for “America’s Worst Cook,” my dear mother actually prided herself on her culinary skills. -click here to read-

McNellis: A Delight of Developers
January 30, 2013
One of the more amusing ways the Brits keep their societal distinctions crisp is through the upper class’s use of outlandishly imaginative group names for the animal kingdom. -click here to read-

McNellis: Rosy Predictions for the New Year
December 31, 2012
Just as there are few atheists in foxholes, true pessimists are rare among developers. A portrait of a famous developer next to the phrase “irrational exuberance” in the dictionary would surprise no one. Given that this is a developer-written column, bear this in mind when considering the following observations. -click here to read-

McNellis: Abusing Power
November 27, 2012
Just as historians still question the precise date the Romans became the Italians, developers are by no means in agreement as to exactly when every pothole or ditch that could hold rainwater for a week became a protected “wetland.” -click here to read-

McNellis: On Private Equity and Real Estate
September 27, 2012
“Behind every great fortune lies a great crime,” Honore de Balzac, the French novelist, supposedly claimed. While this may be true in France, (besides the tactical retreat, what French innovation has withstood the test of time?) America is surely different. Many of its great fortunes are rooted in nothing more insidious than [...] -click here to read-

McNellis: The Chapter After Eleven
August 27, 2012
Put Mervyns, Blockbuster and Lassie together, and what do you have? Two dogs and a money-maker. If you own retail property, what did you have with Chevys Fresh Mex, Z Gallerie, Eddie Bauer, Avenue and Gottschalks? One project-sapping bankruptcy after the next. Before the mid-19th century, debtors unable to pay their debts [...] -click here to read-

McNellis: To Everything There is a Season
July 10, 2012
The Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes tells of a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to rend and a time to sew. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them together—a time for each endeavor in its turn. Ecclesiastes [...] -click here to read-

McNellis: Do As I Say, Not As I Do
June 9, 2012
Our last column ended with questions: Why would a seller ever permit a listing broker to keep 100 percent of a sales commission? Why let a broker eliminate a whole class of potential buyers: those who would never consider a property unless a trusted outside agent had been pitched it? Is it [...] -click here to read-

McNellis: Sex, Lies and Off-Market Deals
May 12, 2012
Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, eating nothing and resisting the devil’s temptations. Along a similar, if less biblical parallel, the Internal Revenue Service permits one 45 days to wander the wilderness in search of a 1031 exchange, all the while battling brokers’ blandishments. We just emerged from that commercial Sahara and, [...] -click here to read-

McNellis: Hazardous to Whom?
April 1, 2012
Trying to find an exchange property over the last 30 days has had us tire-kicking a passel of old shopping centers, a few worth the renovation. Each older center we examined more closely has a contamination issue, often surmountable, sometimes not. If you ever wonder why a great infill site remains nothing [...] -click here to read-

McNellis on Spring Rituals: A Full Accounting
February 1, 2012
Like daffodils, if not quite as lovely, accountants are among the earliest signs of spring. When ours called the other day to ask for details about a new partnership, I noticed the days were indeed growing longer. -click here to read-

McNellis: Abandon All Hope
March 1, 2012
Hollywood has it wrong. Lawsuits very seldom right wrongs and, as often as not, taking a case to trial can nearly bankrupt one emotionally as well as financially. I was reminded of this enduring truth yet again when an old friend stopped by my office recently to discuss a lawsuit that had [...] -click here to read-

A Sod Roof Too Far
In addition to sounding tres sophistiques, the word triage embodies a very reasonable concept. -click here to read-

McNellis on Developers and Contractors: General Relativity
With major construction about to blossom all over the Bay Area—campuses for Salesforce, Google and Apple, the Transbay Transit Center and an armada of other projects—this may be just the moment to consider the general contractor and the contractor’s role in real estate. -click here to read-

McNellis on Governance: Rescue Our Horse
The annual meeting of America’s foremost real estate organization, the Urban Land Institute, took place last week in Los Angeles. -click here to read-

Working Without a Net Worth
Cash flow is real estate’s real value. -click here to read-

Lies, Damn Lies and the IRR
Caveat emptor. -click here to read-

Brokers with Principals
Give a little to get a lot. -click here to read-

Da to Kapital
Retail landlord finds hope amidst the rubble. -click here to read-

Lords of the Pipeline
The worst is over and recovery begins. -click here to read-

March Madness
While St. Patrick may have driven the snakes out of Ireland all by himself, it took a team effort—a global economic collapse actually—to clear out the ICSC's annual retail conference here on St. Patrick’s Day. -click here to read-

Through a Glass Darkly
Views of the skeptical optimist. -click here to read-

There's No Place Like Home
As good times roll back around, real estate investors should take stock of the foibles of our past and resolve not to repeat them. -click here to read-

Let Us Now Praise Famous Architects
And let us remind not-so-famous developers to seek business counsel elsewhere. -click here to read-

Monogamy and Its Downside
Bankers like exclusivity, but developers should be less enamored. -click here to read-

A Deal Runs Through It
Fishing for deals proves to be a popular sport across the country. -click here to read-



News

Its All About the Deal: John McNellis Gives Insight to Development Success
An article from the ULI San Francisco Blog about John McNellis' unique perspective on starting a development company -click here to read-

McNellis supports local non-profit
A September 2012 article about the Downtown Streets Team in The Palo Alto Weekly -click here to read-

Working lunch with Beth Walter
Comstock’s Magazine Feature April 2011 -click here to read-

Alma Plaza Razed
An article about John McNellis's search for a grocer and home builder. -click here to read-

Giving to Reed
John McNellis's address to the Parent Council at Reed College. -click here to read-

The Art of Self Reliance
A Registry Magazine Interview with John McNellis. -click here to read-

A Growing Tradition
An article from Reed College's newletter about the increase in Parent Giving. -click here to read-

A Convenience Center in an Inconvenient Spot
John writes a guest opinion column about The Alma Plaza project. -click here to read-

Council adds more commercial space to Alma Plaza
Developer John McNellis agrees to swap another house for more commercial footage and larger grocery store. -click here to read-