Business Stories of the Week: Friday, May 4, 2018

by May 4, 2018

“White boxing” is the new trend in luxury real estate — giving designers an empty slate can actually increase the sale price. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Brad Cerenzia.)

Scrutiny against Starbucks anti-bias advisory team

After the highly-publicized arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks, the company announced it was having all its employees undergo racial bias training. However, some of the members of the company’s racial bias advisory team have drawn scrutiny, the Seattle Times reported. The Anti-Defamation League was an original member, but Black Lives Matter organizers and other Jewish activists criticized the organization for its stances. According to executive chairman Howard Schultz, the May 29th training marks a “new era” for the company and its goal of being a “Third Place in its customers lives” — a place that’s safe and inviting for all. “Starbucks has sought engagement and counsel to ensure it has a broad historical view on race; access to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experts; views from civil rights leaders; and deep conversation and engagement with a wide number of diverse communities.”

Luxury home trend: gutted to the studs

Apparently, stripping everything from a home — even a six-figure chef’s kitchen — and leaving buyers with a blank slate can make a property sell for more, according to CNBC. The trend, called “white boxing,” is taking off in major urban centers like Los Angeles and New York City, where many buyers gut a house or apartment regardless of how nice it is. People who can afford $58 million penthouses often want their own designers to create a space unique to them. Los Angeles architect Gavin Brodin says white boxes make it easier to visualize for his clients. “It’s much easier because you get to bring the client here and really breathe the space,” he said. Nine out of ten of his projects are complete tear outs and remodels. “A property is definitely more valuable stripped out.”

HQ2 rejections get phone calls

Amazon called many of the cities that it rejected for its HQ2 and gave them information about why the city didn’t make the cut, the Wall Street Journal reported. Cincinnati, for example, was told it should invest more in developing tech talent in younger generations. Detroit lost out because it didn’t have a sustainable regional transportation network. A ballot initiative for transportation funding is coming up in November and this rejection serves as evidence in favor, according to Detroit-area businesses. Orlando, now that they’ve been shot down by the retail giant, plans to invest more money into tech startups to attract more entrepreneurs. 

Anheuser-Busch orders trucks from Tesla rival

Tesla’s rival — ironically called Nikola — just received an order for 800 hydrogen-powered trucks from beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch, according to CNN. Both Tesla and Nikola trucks are electric, but Nikola trucks store their energy through hydrogen gas, rather than battery packs like Teslas. This allows them to get close to 1200 miles on a full tank, compared to Tesla’s 500 miles.  This comes as part of Anheuser-Busch’s plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions up to 25% by 2025, and the deal includes plans for Nikola to build up to 28 specialized fueling stations in strategic points around the country. Anheuser-Busch plans to have 800 of these trucks in its fleet by 2020, but will receive their first test model later this year.