Nelson Mills, president and CEO of Columbia Property Trust (NYSE: CXP), participated in a video interview in conjunction with Nareit’s REITweek: Virtual Investor Conference (held June 2-4).
Mills discussed the sale of Pasadena Corporate Park in suburban Los Angeles that Columbia Property Trust completed at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, noting that the buyer took a long-term view of the investment, so the REIT was able to close the deal with minimal adjustment.
“That said, transactions are difficult today. Most transaction activity has been shut down for the time being until there’s more certainty in the market, and that’s true with leasing as well,” Mills added.
Mills said Columbia Property Trust’s top concern is preparing for a safe and healthy reentry for its tenants, so the REIT is focused on enhanced cleaning procedures, physical distancing in lobbies and elevators, and improved air filtration systems. He added that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards have also become top-of-mind.
“As you can see from our [2019 ESG] report, we’ve really upped our game in all those areas. Not just in terms of reporting, but really incorporating it into all of our goals and strategy for the business,” Mills said.
Mills added that Columbia Property Trust’s team has been focused in conversations with investors and its board on how the pandemic will changes the use of real estate in the office sector, but that it’s too early to tell. He anticipates, though, a move away from densification in office buildings and potentially toward more working from home.