Global financial troubles put building leases at risk, says Schulich prof





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An expert on real property is warning new long-term leasing deals could face rough times, thanks to the global financial meltdown, wrote the Calgary Herald Sept. 19, in a story about plans for new school buildings in Alberta. The arrangements have been successful in the past, especially in Britain, where large-scale construction projects have come in on time and on budget, said James McKellar, director of the Real Property Development Program at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Ontario.

But McKellar warned that the world hasn’t seen this type of arrangement operate during an economic downturn before now. “Everyone is being battered in the global meltdown,” said McKellar. “In today’s environment, are the assumptions we made five, six or 12 months ago still valid?”

One of the biggest concerns for the projects may be securing the cash upfront, McKellar said. In the past, major conglomerates could secure long-term loans at rates not much higher than those offered to governments. But those days may be gone, he said.

Major banks are already placing a cap of $50 million for condo construction in Toronto, regardless of who is asking, said McKellar. Companies able to find financing could be forced to pay higher rates, which might call into question any savings the government expected from the deal, he said. “It would not be prudent today to think you are going to escape what is happening in these world markets. The consequences are absolutely immense,” said McKellar.

City’s infrastructure needs more work, says urban studies prof

Intensification gives rise to non-economic benefits such as more transit ridership, energy savings and greater efficiency in municipal services such as garbage handling, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 19 in a story about Toronto’s ongoing condo boom.

Others aren’t convinced. Douglas Young, coordinator of urban studies in York University’s Faculty of Arts, points to another pressing issue: “The state of [the city’s] infrastructure – physical, social and natural – is in pretty lousy shape.” Yet planners continue to approve thousands of new condo units, he says. “You have these fabulous looking highrises from a distance but getting from them to somewhere else in the city can be a real pain in the backside.”

Experts debate how to fix financial system

As stock markets grapple with the fallout from this week’s turmoil on Wall Street, experts are asking what can be done to prevent a similar financial fiasco in the future, wrote CBC News online Sept. 19.

“My bottom line right now is it’s far too early to say what will happen,” said Fred Gorbet, director of the Financial Services Program in the Schulich School of Business at York University and former deputy minister of finance in Ottawa. “In the US, Congress will likely take the lead and the risk is that we have a knee-jerk reaction akin to Sarbanes Oxley after Enron – which was not well thought out, in my view.”

Banks still recruiting in Canada

In Canada, the employment outlook for bankers is far more stable, and the major financial institutions are still recruiting business school graduates, says a career development officer at York University’s Schulich School of Business, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 19 in a story about recent financial sector layoffs in the US and Europe.

Minoo Bhutani, a former investment banker and director of career development at Schulich, said he has not noticed a drop off in recruitment activity by the banks. When the major financial institutions arrive on campus, they are generally recruiting for a number of different roles. Any shift this year is in the functions that the MBAs are being hired for, rather than in the number of hires, he says.

Former Schulich acting dean joins doctor’s new art gallery

Tomorrow marks the official opening of the Robert Macklin Gallery, the latest addition to Kingston’s art world, and the retiring ophthalmologist’s hedge against old age, wrote The Kingston Whig-Standard Sept. 19.

The 1,550-sq.-ft. gallery is located off Market Square in the beautifully restored heritage building where Macklin saw his patients for the past 15 years. Several former patients from his ophthalmology practice are among the 25 artists, four sculptors and one photographer whose works are part of the first official exhibit. Brian Dixon, former acting dean of the Faculty of Administrative Studies [now the Schulich School of Business] at York University, a resident of Kingston, is also part of the inaugural group. Dixon normally sells and shows his work in Spain.

Research pumped by $21 million

York University’s Dorota Crawford, a professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, hopes that her share of a $21-million grant for health-care research will lead to more effective treatments for autism, wrote The Toronto Sun Sept. 19.

She hopes her $200,000 of the provincial funding will help discover what goes wrong in the brain development of autistic children. “There is no test or treatment for autism. My lab aims to change that,” Crawford said yesterday at her lab on York’s Keele campus.

“This research will allow genetic samples to be taken from a person with autism to help discover the cause of their symptoms. There is no lab like this in the world.”

  • York recipients of the grants, wrote the North York Mirror Sept. 18, include: Kari Hoffman, Faculty of Health – Determining the connection between perception and memory formation; provincial funding: $197,526; Dorota Crawford, Faculty of Health – Discovering what causes autism; provincial funding: $203,494; Gerald Audette, Vivian Saridakis, Faculty of Science & Engineering – Determining the biological function of proteins; provincial funding: $641,992; Derek Wilson, Faculty of Science & Engineering – Uncovering how proteins function; provincial funding: $201,412.

Dance alumna hired to choreograph Family Channel teen show

Lisa Weiler (MFA ‘06) is following her lifelong passion and trying something new all at the same time, wrote the Chatham Daily News Aug. 21. The 28-year-old Chatham native was recently hired to choreograph “The Latest Buzz”, which airs on television’s Family Channel.

The show centres on Grade 9 students working on a magazine. “It’s a challenge, it’s new,” Weiler said. “I’m jumping two feet in and where this takes me, I don’t know.” Weiler began with the show six weeks ago. She has already worked on several episodes, as well as a promotional music video on bullying for the program.