03/02/2021 | by

As the health metrics around the pandemic continue to trend in the right direction and the rollout of effective vaccines increases, the country begins the long road to recover from the impact of COVID-19 in 2021. For many commercial real estate owners and their tenants, the health and economic implications of the crisis have been extremely challenging but have also accelerated some trends in how real estate is utilized and forced companies to innovate and adapt to meet changing consumer demands.

At Nareit’s REITwise: 2021 Law, Accounting & Finance Conference, the “Leveraging Technology to Drive Shareholder and Stakeholder Value” session will explore some of the opportunities and challenges tied to digital transformation and look at the role of technology and data in making business decisions. One of the panelists—JBG SMITH’s (NYSE: JBGS) EVP, Strategic Innovation & Research, Evan Regan-Levine—will share insights into the diversified REIT’s initiative to establish National Landing, home to Amazon’s HQ2 development, as one of the country’s first 5G enabled communities.

While the concept of Smart Cities is not new, the technology available to building owners has evolved in recent years and taken on new dimensions in light of the pandemic. Most notably, the rise of 5G and PropTech has created opportunities for leaders to differentiate their properties. While most would only associate gains related to the proliferation of 5G with infrastructure or data center REITs, some REITs in more traditional sectors are also benefitting through innovative tactics.

In 2018, JBG SMITH was selected to develop the Northern Virginia site (now known as National Landing) as Amazon’s HQ2 location. Just two years later, the first new building has been delivered to Amazon and plans for the rest of the development remain on track. Recently, the REIT announced the acquisition of seven blocks of Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum in an effort to bring 5G and related technology infrastructure to National Landing.

In a recent press release Regan-Levine commented on the acquisition, calling it an “opportunity to align National Landing with the needs of cutting-edge tenants, while significantly enhancing our broader smart city and digital placemaking plans throughout the neighborhood.” He added that that the investment in “next-generation connectivity infrastructure will further cement National Landing as a premier global destination for entrepreneurs, universities, and global technology companies to ideate, innovate, and scale globally.”

JBG SMITH isn’t the only non-infrastructure REIT to invest in 5G. Pebblebrook Hotel Trust recently announced 14 rooftop wireless leases, a transaction that generated net proceeds of $12 million. Pebblebrook also agreed to a revenue sharing agreement for future rooftop wireless assets at 11 of the properties included in the transaction. In the Emerging Tax Issues session at REITwise, panelists will examine some of the potential REIT tax consequences of Smart City initiatives.

Learn more about how REITs are implementing technology to drive incremental revenue and reduce operating costs at Nareit’s REITwise: 2021 Law, Accounting & Finance Conference, to be held virtually on March 23-25.

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