07/08/2022 | by
Assembly Row
Assembly Row in Somerville, MA. Photo courtesy of Federal Realty Investment Trust.

This case study was published in the 2022 REIT Industry ESG Report, which details the REIT and publicly traded real estate industry's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance and features 32 case studies showcasing REIT leadership and ESG innovation from a variety of sectors. The report serves as a practical tool for shareholders and stakeholders to assess the scale and impact of the REIT industry's ESG commitments and initiatives. Applicable footnotes and/or citations for this case study are available in the full report.

Revitalizing Existing Properties to Support Local Ecosystems and Conservation Efforts

A key factor of Federal Realty Investment Trust’s investment strategy is that the company does not build on greenfields. By choosing to build on land already improved, Federal Realty is repurposing properties to create memorable, resilient, and immersive gathering places that promote efficient operations, resonate with the community, and support local ecosystems and conservation efforts.

The following sites demonstrate noteworthy examples of Federal Realty’s approach:

Rain garden at Brick Plaza, NJ. Photo courtesy of Federal Realty Investment Trust.

Brick Plaza: Brick Plaza is a shopping center that has a direct waterway connection into New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay. Federal Realty recognized the importance of and opportunity to protect the local waterways as it embarked on a full-scale renovation of the Plaza. As a result, Federal Realty implemented 18 rain gardens across the Plaza, each anchored by native and drought tolerant plant material.

“The stormwater improvements at the shopping center are excellent examples of relatively simple things commercial property owners can do to reverse the degradation of our waterways and contribute positively to their long-term health.”
-Gregory Flynn, Former Chairman of Commissioners, Brick Utilities

Today, these bioretention basins are capturing and filtering stormwater runoff and associated pollutants before they flow into Barnegat Bay, and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. Brick Plaza now stands as a project to emulate in the community and an educational opportunity for others to see how progressive solutions can protect the health of the ecosystem.

Pike & Rose: Built on the site of a former strip mall and parking lot, Pike & Rose is now a vibrant mixed-use community in North Bethesda, Maryland that includes a 17,000-square foot rooftop farm. The Farm at Pike & Rose is the Mid-Atlantic’s largest urban farm, and it produces 20,000 lbs. of fruit and vegetables annually for residents, local restaurants, and farmer’s markets. The plot adds green space to the area, while also providing fresh and nutritious food to the local community. The property also uses native landscaping throughout, to help promote local pollinator species, and hosts several beehives on site to promote local bee populations.

Assembly Row: When Federal Realty purchased the land that would become Assembly Row in Somerville, Massachusetts, the land was heavily contaminated, having previously been the site of multiple industrial uses including a Ford assembly plant located along the Mystic River. Federal Realty invested in environmental remediation efforts which helped to improve river water quality and support the return of local bird and fish species. Today, Assembly Row is a vibrant, transit- oriented neighborhood that welcomes millions of visitors annually to enjoy outdoor fitness events, concerts, art installations, and more.

Through these efforts, Federal Realty has transformed outdated, unused, or contaminated spaces, to desirable locations that support biodiversity, and provide a place to connect with nature. Moving forward, Federal Realty expects to adapt these initiatives to other places in its portfolio, recognizing the value it brings to improving the land, and attracting and retaining retailers and community members who enjoy the added environmental benefits.

Founded in 1962, Federal Realty Investment Trust is one of the oldest U.S. REITs, focused on the ownership, operation, and development of high-quality retail-based properties—from grocery-anchored shopping centers to large-scale mixed-use neighborhoods.

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