Staying Positive in Tough Times

By Elena Gontar

The recession continues and, for some firms, things are not getting better. Most recently, I have been let go from my position as a news writer and editor for one of the leading commercial real estate publications. After 22 years of successful run, the product is rebranding and due to drastic budget cuts, most of the staff had to go.

After eight years with the publication, I was almost positive that the recession was not going to affect me or the product. But it did.

The announcement came in the wake of a bulk of bad news in the industry. And when I think about everything that’s been going on, I fear more difficult times are ahead. While still on staff, I covered daily news, and was amazed to see how many firms went bankrupt or had to close down.

Just a little over two months ago – in April – two major firms in the industry had been forced to say uncle in bankruptcy court. Mall owner and operator General Growth Properties Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection in United States Bankruptcy Code. Moreover, nearly 158 regional shopping centers owned by the firm also filed for bankruptcy protection. A few days after the announcement, the firm said that certain additional subsidiaries, including eight regional shopping centers, were also seeking relief under Chapter 11 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. And just days after GGP’s bankruptcy announcement, Opus South Corp., one of the divisions of Opus Corp., also filed for Chapter 11.

Is the recent spate of bankruptcies just the tip of the iceberg? As the economy continues its sluggish performance and credit markets remain frozen, will the industry see a rash of bankruptcy filings?

And as the difficult economic times continue, the unemployment rate keeps on the increase. At a time of aggressive store closings, shrinking sales and bankruptcies, it is not easy to stay positive. But I, for one, have no other choice. I always say: Whatever happens is for the best and while one door closes, the other door opens. Right?

In the meantime, during my second week of being unemployed I still can’t help but search the wires for real estate news. It’s a habit that I won’t be able to break for a long time.

So, yes, life can be unfair and at times difficult, but feeling depressed isn’t going to help. My advice to those who are in the same situation as I am at the moment is to stay positive and look on the bright side. Get motivated and something good is bound to happen.

Elena Gontar is a real estate writer in Brooklyn. She can be reached at

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