SUVs are main attraction at L.A. Auto Show

Published: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 12:34 AM
Updated: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 12:33 AM

The floor at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show will look a lot like America's roads: full of SUVs.

Hyundai and Nissan will debut new small SUVs at the show, while Subaru will take the wraps off its new three-row SUV, the Ascent. Jeep will show a new version of its rough-and-tumble Wrangler, while Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln and Porsche will debut more refined models.

A combination of low gas prices, growing millennial families and a host of new models is fueling the SUV boom. As of October, overall U.S. vehicle sales were down 2 percent compared to the same period last year, but SUV sales were up 6 percent, according to Autodata Corp.

The L.A. show will also have plenty of eco-friendly models in a nod to California buyers, who purchase a higher percentage of hybrids and electrics than the U.S. as a whole thanks to state tax credits and other incentives. Land Rover will debut its first-ever plug-in gas-electric hybrid, while Volkswagen will show its upcoming family of electric vehicles. Porsche will also have a plug-in hybrid.

Here are some of the vehicles being unveiled at the show, which opens to the public on Friday.

LINCOLN NAUTILUS

Lincoln's midsize MKX SUV gets a new name, Nautilus, in an effort to separate itself from the alphanumeric luxury crowd. It also gets its first refresh since it went on sale in 2015. The 2019 Nautilus swaps its V6 engine for two turbocharged four-cylinder choices: a 2.0-liter that puts out 245 horsepower or a 2.7-liter with 335 horsepower. The Nautilus adopts Lincoln's signature mesh grille. It also has a suite of new safety technologies, including a system that keeps the SUV centered in its lane and an evasive maneuvering system that can automatically steer the vehicle around obstacles. The 2019 Nautilus goes on sale in the spring.

CHEVROLET CORVETTE ZR1 CONVERTIBLE

The fastest, most powerful version of General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Corvette gets its first drop-top in nearly a half-century. Chevrolet says the convertible won't hurt the 755-horsepower car's performance much. It's only 60 pounds heavier than the standard coupe and still will have a top speed of over 200 miles per hour. The only changes for the convertible are the structure for the car's folding top and repositioned seat belt mounts. The 2019 ZR1 made its debut earlier this month in Dubai. The ZR1 last had a convertible in its original model year in 1970. The coupe starts at $119,995 including shipping, while the convertible starts at $123,995. They'll hit showrooms this spring.

INFINITI QX50

Infiniti's midsize, five-seat SUV gets a complete overhaul, starting with a rigid but lightweight new underbody made from high-strength steel. The 2019 QX50 sits up higher than the outgoing model and has a beefier, more confident look. Under the hood is what Infiniti says is the world's first production-ready variable compression ratio engine. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder automatically adjusts the pistons' performance to optimize power or fuel efficiency. Infiniti says the engine delivers 268 horsepower and 27 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, a 35 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the outgoing QX50. The new QX50 also boasts Infiniti's ProPilot driver assistance system that can automatically control braking and speed and keep the SUV within its lane. The QX50 goes on sale in the first quarter of 2018.

SUBARU ASCENT

Known for its small all-wheel-drive cars and SUVs, Subaru enters the big people-hauler market with the new Ascent. It's got three rows of seats and can carry as many as eight people. Built in Lafayette, Indiana, the Ascent will be sold only in North America to satisfy its thirst for bigger vehicles. The all-wheel-drive Ascent is powered by a new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Second-row captain's chairs are optional on some versions. The price wasn't released, but the Ascent will go on sale next summer.

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DP&L distribution settlement may mean rate increase

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 1:47 PM

A shot during a Dayton Power & Light helicopter inspection in August 2016 of area power lines. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
A shot during a Dayton Power & Light helicopter inspection in August 2016 of area power lines. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

If a new settlement on Dayton Power and Light’s distribution charges is approved by state regulators, bills for consumers who use 1,000 kilowatt-hours of power a month will go up $2.64.

DP&L said it has filed a stipulation in its distribution rate case with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), which was signed by 15 parties and PUCO staff.

If the stipulation is approved by the PUCO, the average residential customer in DP&L’s service area, using 1,000 kWh on DP&L’s “standard service” offer, can expect a monthly bill increase of $2.64.

 

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The utility says the stipulation balances “the interests of residential, commercial, and industrial customers.

“The stipulation allows DP&L the opportunity to meet the needs of its customers and support the company’s investments to maintain reliability and customer service,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

MOREIs Arcade development a certainty? 5 things to know

DP&L said the stipulation also resolves issues tied to last year’s federal corporate tax cut. Some observers, including the PUCO, said Ohio utilities should cut rates commensurate with those lowered taxes.

“The resolution includes an agreement to return the tax savings associated with the act,” DP&L said in its statement. The utility said the agreement also includes a “commitment to return to its customers no less than $4 million per year for five years.”

A spokeswoman for the Office of Ohio Consumers’ Counsel said her office agreed to the stipulation.

MOREYet more American Airlines flights are cancelled 

DP&L says it maintains the lowest residential rates of the investor-owned utilities in Ohio.

“This proposed settlement represents a compromise among the parties, while allowing DP&L to provide ongoing, essential system maintenance to the poles, wires, transformers, substations and other infrastructure that safely deliver electricity to our customers,” DP&L President and Chief Executive Craig Jackson said in the utility’s release.

“We take pride in serving our customers and if approved by the (PUCO), this settlement is critical to ensuring our customers continue to have the safe, reliable service they have known and come to expect,” Jackson added.

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5 things to know about the momentum behind the Dayton Arcade project

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 9:25 AM

An artist’s rendering of what the rotunda inside the Dayton Arcade will look like when renovated. CONTRIBUTED
An artist’s rendering of what the rotunda inside the Dayton Arcade will look like when renovated. CONTRIBUTED

It’s looking increasingly like a serious renewal of the historic Dayton Arcade is all but a sure bet. 

Developers are pushing the project forward. And the site is getting private and public support.

PHOTOS: A look back at the Dayton Arcade

It’s a complicated, multi-piece effort for a complicated, multi-piece site — and there are no guarantees.

But here’s what to know about the Arcade project right now.

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1. It’s big. 

The Arcade itself is some nine buildings, with some structures stretching back more than 100 years. But it has been in a state of disuse for nearly 30 years.

Dayton Arcade Partners LLC and its affiliated partners look to acquire some four acres of real estate and some 400,000 square feet of building space, according to Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority documents.

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2. It’s a team effort. 

Late last month, the city of Dayton agreed to loan $10 million to an Arcade development team led by Baltimore-based Cross Street Partners.

And on Monday, the Port Authority’s Board of Trustees agreed to enter into capital lease agreements with four limited liability companies that own the Arcade’s component parcels. Jerry Brunswick, executive director of the Port Authority, said those agreements will save an estimated $1 million in sales taxes on materials used to improve and build up the Arcade.

MOREPort Authority pacts to save Arcade effort about $1 million. 

3. Dayton’s Miller-Valentine Group still has a role in the project.

Dayton-based Miller Valentine Group is still engaged with leasing and funding support of the Arcade project, said Dave Dickerson, the company’s Dayton market president.

The company did step away from the housing piece of the effort, this news outlet reported in March. 

Two urban redevelopment firms — Cincinnati-based Model Group and St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar — signed on as partners in the Arcade work after Miller-Valentine’s withdrawal.

MOREThe Arcade will DEFINITELY reopen 

4. The Arcade vision has multiple elements.

There will be residential apartments and commercial elements. At different points, the University of Dayton, The Entrepreneurs Center and Sinclair Community College — as well as brewer Warped Wing, Boston Stoker coffee shop and the Dayton Visual Arts Center — have all been identified as possible tenants or have expressed interest in having a place at the new Arcade.

The Arcade itself could be home to 150 businesses — most of them quite small — and hundreds of workers, according to some estimates.

5. There’s now a timeline attached to the project.

Matters are moving quickly now.

The city of Dayton did agree to the aforementioned $10 million loan to the project. But that agreement requires that the developer begin construction on the commercial components of the southern section of the Arcade by the end of this year — and finish by March 31, 2020.

However, Cross Street says the goal is to finish those parts by November of 2019.

We’ll see what happens next.

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Massive Toys ‘R’ Us giraffe mascot given away through liquidation sale

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 7:00 AM

Toys ‘R’ Us May Close All U.S. Stores

Toys “R” Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe has a new home.

The toy store chain is undergoing the process of liquidating all of its stores after filing for bankruptcy earlier this year. The retailer sold off its 16-ft., 550-pound fiberglass statue of the giraffe mascot to a children’s hospital. Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey acquired the statue through the retailer’s liquidation advisor Malfitano Partners, according to Bloomberg.

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Malfitano Partners anted to find children’s hospital to take it, but it was becoming difficult due to the expense it would take to remove and transport the massive giraffe statue.

Joseph Malfitano agreed tod onate $10,000 to remove, pack and ship the giraffe to New Brunswick. He is also paying Toys “R” Us an undisclosed sum, according to Bloomberg.

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Port Authority to boost Arcade improvements, save project $1M

Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 2:50 PM

The Dayton Arcade rotunda, perhaps the most recognizable part of the Arcade. FILE
The Dayton Arcade rotunda, perhaps the most recognizable part of the Arcade. FILE

On Monday, the Dayton Montgomery Port Authority Board of Trustees voted to have the Port support the downtown Dayton Arcade development project, agreeing to enter into four ground leases for four component parcels of the Arcade.

The Port will enter into capital lease agreements with four limited liability companies that own the Arcade’s component parcels, said Jerry Brunswick, executive director of the Port Authority.

The support will help save an estimated $1 million in sales taxes on materials used to improve Arcade, Brunswick said.

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“That’s valuable,” he said.

The trustees voted unanimously to participate in redevelopment of the historic downtown Arcade after a closed executive session lasting more than an hour. The vote took place without public discussion.

Consisting of nine buildings covering more than 330,000 square feet — including structures that go back nearly 120 years — the newly re-developed Arcade is expected to have commercial, retail, educational and residential elements. Key possible tenants such as the University of Dayton and Dayton brewer Warped Wing have expressed interest in a place at the Arcade, as have Boston Stoker and the Dayton Visual Arts Center.

PHOTOSTour the Conagra Brands plant in Troy 

Just last month, the city of Dayton agreed to loan $10 million to the Cross Street Partners-led development partnership that said it now has secured nearly all of the financing it needs for a $95 million rehab of the southern portions of the Arcade.

When the Port Authority owns land, it can offer construction companies and developers several tools to boost construction projects, including a shield from expensive sales taxes on construction materials.

“Our ownership facilitates sales tax exemptions for these properties,” Brunswick said. “That will save them, the project operators, somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million.

“You can see that as part of the overall source of financing for the project,” he added.

He noted that the resolution trustees approved holds that the Port Authority’s participation is contingent on all the participating entities “coming together.”

“Our board’s approval of this means we’re one step closer — and it’s a significant step closer,” Brunswick said.

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