Leah Cash @misscash ?active 7 months ago
Trio of Lamborghinis burn in million-dollar wreck
The upside to owning a car like a Lamborghini Aventador or Gallardo comes easily; the speed, the attention, the status. The downside comes from when something goes awry — like it did badly on a Malaysian freeway this morning, when three Lamborghinis — two Gallardos and an Aventator — collided and burst into flames, in a million-dollar bonfire of the vanities.
According to local reports, five Lamborghinis registered in Singapore were traveling toward Kuala Lumpur in a convoy when one of the Lamborghini drivers lost control. That Lambo hit the road divider, triggering the crash with the other two cars. None of the drivers were hurt.
No car has been involved in more high-profile whoops-de-do than Gallardos. Given that the last one left the factory last month, the value of those on the road may start to rise — if their owners can keep them in one piece.
By Justin Hyde
’Worst ice storm’ in years wallops Texas, much of the Midwest
Tens of thousands of people remained without power here late Friday after a massive winter storm blanketed North Texas in a thick coat of freezing rain and sleet.
Police pleaded with motorists to stay off frozen freeways. Ice on power lines forced public transportation officials to suspend the region’s light rail service.
Dallas’ woes are part of a severe cold snap stretching more than a 1,000 miles from the southern Plains to New England.
“This will be the worst ice storm for the United States since January 2009 and will affect many of the same areas as that storm,” said Jesse Ferrell, weather expert and storm chaser for AccuWeather.com.
The National Weather Service issued ice and winter storm advisories for more than a dozen states. Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee — where thousands are also without power — have already declared states of emergency. Treacherous driving conditions were blamed for several deaths across the country, according to The Associated Press.
Government forecasters warned of possible prolonged power outages in some areas from Central Texas to the Lower Ohio Valley.
While the precipitation had moved out of North Texas by Friday afternoon, the weather service painted a frigid picture as the storm rumbles east:
As the upper-level forcing associated with the arctic front pushes eastward this evening and tomorrow, the threat of wintry precipitation will shift eastward from the Mid-south into the Appalachians, northern Mid-Atlantic and southern New England as the night progresses. Additional ice accumulations of less than a quarter of an inch are expected from extreme northern Mississippi northeastward to southern New England through early Saturday. Behind the band of freezing rain, snow is expected to accumulate 1 to 5 inches from across the central Appalachians through central New England through tonight.
Jeff Masters, a meteorologist at Weather Underground, wrote that the arctic air “will bring temperatures 10 to 40 degrees below average to more than 80 percent of the contiguous U.S. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”
The winter weather crippled airports as well. Thousands of flights were canceled across the country. American Airlines, headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth, called off nearly 1,000 flights.
In North Texas where temperatures are not expected to get above freezing until possibly Sunday afternoon, the storm dumped 1 to 3 inches of sleet late Thursday and early Friday. Freezing rain snapped tree branches and crusted power lines in ice.
Customers and power companies were using social media to report and respond to outages.
In Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, reserve power line crews were being called in from other states to try and restore heat to homes.
In Richardson, north of Dallas, Amanda Fancher said she was roused out of bed at 4 a.m. Friday when a 35-year-old hackberry tree came crashing down in her front yard. The impact set off the alarm on a car parked nearby.
“It was a really big tree,” Fancher told Yahoo News. “It’s crazy that it didn’t land on anything. The whole tree is covered in ice.”
The hardest-hit areas could see more of the same by Saturday when a second storm system, which is already bringing snow to parts of California, Oregon and Nevada, pushes east across the Plains and into the Midwest.
The frigid forecast was unwelcome news to some 25,000 runners who had planned to participate in Sunday’s Dallas Marathon. Race officials called off the event early Friday afternoon.
“We regret that the race will not go on as planned, but are confident this decision is in the best interest of our runners, volunteers, spectators and the general public,” the organizers wrote on their website.
By Jason Sickles
Companies Say Goodbye to the ’Burbs
When Motorola Mobility lined up a Silicon Valley candidate a few months ago for a VP-level role, the phone maker was hopeful he’d accept. After all, the company offered the chance to develop products at a subsidiary of Google Inc.
The engineer declined. His reason: the prospect of relocating to Libertyville, Ill., about 35 miles from downtown Chicago, said Scott Sullivan, Motorola’s head of human resources.
Mr. Sullivan expects recruiting to get a lot easier next February when the company moves into a new space in the storied Merchandise Mart building in downtown Chicago.
Motorola will join United Continental Holdings Inc., Hillshire Brands Co.—the successor to Sara Lee Corp.— and other corporate giants abandoning vast suburban campuses for urban offices nearer to the young, educated and hyper-connected workers who will lead their businesses into the digital age. Archer Daniels Midland Co. recently said it would move its headquarters from Decatur, Ill., and in the Bay Area, startups like Pinterest Inc. are departing Silicon Valley for San Francisco.
After decades of big businesses leaving the city for the suburbs, U.S. firms have begun a new era of corporate urbanism. Nearly 200 Fortune 500 companies are currently headquartered in the top 50 cities. Many others are staying put in the suburbs but opening high-profile satellite offices in nearby cities, sometimes aided by tax breaks and a recession that tempered downtown rents. And upstart companies are following suit, according to urban planners. The bottom line: companies are under pressure to establish an urban presence that projects an image of dynamism and innovation.
”The showcase headquarters of the past, the beautiful suburban campuses—that’s a very obsolete model now,” said Patrick Phillips, CEO of the Urban Land Institute, a land-use think tank.
Nationwide, commercial vacancy rates in central business districts have gone down faster than those in suburbs since the real-estate market began to recover in 2011, with 13.9% of urban space empty in the third quarter of 2013 versus 18.5% in the suburbs, according to research firm Reis Inc. At the end of 2010, the figures were 14.8% and 19.1%, respectively.
”There’s increasing evidence that this represents a broad trend among large and middle-size companies,” said Enrico Moretti, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of ”The New Geography of Jobs.”
Cheap real estate, tax incentives, and easy automobile access once lured companies to the suburbs, but companies now want urban amenities, proximity to public transit and sense of community—the same qualities young workers prize when deciding where to live and work, said Robert Lang, an urban planning expert and director of Brookings Mountain West.
And highly educated workers are clustering in a small number of cities. In 2010, more than 43% of Americans with bachelor’s degrees chose to live in 20 metropolitan areas, primarily tech hubs such as Seattle, San Francisco and Raleigh, N.C., according to research from the Brookings Institution. And as younger graduates marry and start families later than previous generations—often with both spouses pursuing careers—they’re delaying moves to the suburbs, sometimes indefinitely.
For longtime employees, however, corporate moves to the city mean longer commutes and disrupted schedules and family life. And the corporate quest for youth and innovation can leave some workers feeling slightly unwelcome.
”We joked about the older suburbanites being excluded from the new [business] model,” said Jon Scherf, age 42, a marketing professional who left Hillshire shortly before its December 2012 move to downtown Chicago. ”They would’ve been happy to have me but they’re also happy to bring in new blood.”
Companies say some attrition is normal. Motorola is offering full relocation packages for employees who choose to sell their suburban homes and move closer to the new office. Still, management expects 2% of its staff to depart and about 75% to stay after the relocation. The remainder, said Mr. Sullivan, will likely be ”on the fence.”
The shift to urban headquarters favors cities such as Chicago, San Francisco and Boston, destinations of choice for recent college graduates, while aging cities like Cleveland and Detroit struggle with corporate flight and economic decline.
Even when headquarters stay put, more companies are opening or expanding urban satellite offices, especially for technology and research staff working on product development and innovation, according to Mr. Moretti.
Silicon Valley giant Yahoo Inc. signed a big lease this year to expand its San Francisco offices so it can recruit top engineers unwilling to make the long commute on Highway 101. And Coca-Cola Co. in June said it would open a 2,000-person information-technology office near its headquarters in downtown Atlanta, relocating some tech staff that had been based in the suburbs.
Overall demand for commercial real estate in the suburbs is strong in metro areas like Sacramento and Dallas, and in regions rebounding from the worst of the housing collapse, said Walter Page, director of research at real-estate data firm CoStar. However, almost no large firms have left cities for the suburbs recently, CoStar has found.
As United Airlines planned its 2010 merger with Continental Airlines, the company chose a neutral space for the two cultures to meld. That meant leaving the ”bubble” of its immense campus in Elk Grove Village, a suburb about 20 miles from Chicago, said Kate Gebo, vice president of corporate real estate.
The carrier shifted a small group of employees to Chicago in 2007 and in 2009 announced that it would move all corporate operations downtown. It was an opportune moment; the real-estate market was sagging and landlords were slashing rents, and the city offered the company incentives worth up to $35 million over 10 years. About 4,600 United employees now work in 16 floors of the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower.
The new downtown offices—decorated with murals and lights that mimic the shape of an airplanewing—have proved a magnet for M.B.A.s from top-tier schools as well as new staffers in digital advertising and social media. In the last two years, more than a third of all hires have been under the age of 30, said a spokeswoman. Before that, the figure was closer to 25%.
United has also revived its college internship program, which had been largely dormant for years because the commute from area colleges to Elk Grove Village was too arduous for those without a car.
The airline declined to detail the cost of its relocation or its current real-estate expenses, but Ms. Gebo said the alternative was an extensive upgrade of its old facility.
For Hillshire, which changed its name from Sara Lee after spinning off its European coffee and tea business in 2012, the move downtown was part of a total reorganization that included emulating the culture of a startup, and hiring a workforce to match.
The maker of Jimmy Dean sausage and Ball Park franks now calls itself an ”innovative meat-centric company” and a ”$4 billion startup.” The slimmed-down Hillshire—which now employs around 550 people at headquarters, down from 1,100 before the split—vacated its suburban campus in December 2012 for Chicago’s West Loop.
In the city, Hillshire is finding ”the type of employees we wanted—externally focused and agile” with a ” ’refuse to lose’ attitude,” said Mary Oleksiuk, Hillshire’s head of HR.
One of them, Ryan Rouse, age 33, directs the company’s innovation group. He owns a home in the West Loop and joined Hillshire in June from a marketing role at Newell Rubbermaid in Oak Brook, Ill. Now, instead of a car commute that could stretch to almost two hours, he’s got a 15-minute walk or a five-minute bike ride to the office. Dining options near the office have been a plus, he said, adding that ”access to really wonderful food experiences” helps him think more creatively about possible Hillshire products.
For longtime employees, it has been a more complicated switch. Melissa Napier, treasurer and senior VP of investor relations at Hillshire, bought a house in Downers Grove in 2007 and lives there with her husband and two sons. While she now attends more social and networking events downtown, her commute, once a 10-minute drive, now gets her home at 7:30, an hour later than before.
The kids’ dinner-and-homework routine now falls to her husband, a consultant.
Mr. Scherf, who was a manager of shopper insights at Hillshire and now works at Pfizer Inc.’s Itasca, Ill. office, said the company’s move was ”the tipping point” in his decision to leave, largely because he didn’t want to be beholden to train schedules. He also felt unnerved by layoffs and an accelerating ”cycle of change.”
As young workers start families, they may care more about soccer fields and good schools than sushi restaurants and bike paths, priorities that may send them out of the urban core.
But the employers that sought them out in the city are unlikely to follow them back to the suburbs, said Mr. Phillips of the Urban Land Institute.
”Given energy prices and traffic conditions, it’ll be a long time before we see another wave of suburbanization.”
By Lauren Weber
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Kobe Bryant will make his season debut for the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday against the Toronto Raptorsat Staples Center. It will mark his first game since tearing his left Achilles nearly eight months ago. Bryant announced the news by linking to a two-minute video on his Facebook page Friday afternoon. The video showed his [...]
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