Christopher Benjamin, president and CEO of Alexander & Baldwin (NYSE: ALEX), participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITworld: 2020 Annual Conference.
Hawaii has been welcoming tourists back since Oct. 15, Benjamin said. “We’re very hopeful about the trends that we’re seeing and hope for steady improvement,” he noted, adding that about 95% of the company’s tenants are now open.
Benjamin said the REIT has been very proactive in terms of helping its clients stay open. “We tailored relief to the specific needs of the tenants,” and as a result have had very little impact on occupancy on a permanent basis, he added.
Meanwhile, Benjamin said that a bright spot in 2020 has been that demand for Hawaiian assets has remained very strong, allowing the company to continue the monetization process for non-core assets.
“I think 2021 could be a very good year for us in terms of advancing our simplification and getting closer to our pure REIT model,” Benjamin said. The most important thing to simplify is the materials construction business, he noted, describing it as “the greatest outlier” within the overall portfolio.