Roger Waesche Jr., president and CEO of Corporate Office Properties Trust (NYSE: COPT) joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview at REITWorld 2014: NAREIT’s Annual Convention for All Things REIT at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
COPT primarily focuses on U.S. government tenants in the defense and information technology sectors, which comprise approximately 70 percent of the company’s portfolio. The remaining 30 percent of the firm’s assets can be found throughout the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore corridor. In the last three-and-a-half years, COPT has been cutting back on its suburban office product. Conversely, Waesche noted that the company has put 2.2 million square feet of newly developed space for its primary portfolio into service in the past three years. He also pointed out that COPT will be making a “sizable” delivery from its development pipeline in 2015.
Delving deeper into COPT’s development pipeline, the company recently proposed a major waterfront project in Baltimore. Waesche described the location of the site as being an “emerging area” that is “in the path of growth.”
“It’s where the young people want to locate,” he said. “It’s where the high-tech companies are located.”
Waesche pointed out that the waterfront project in Baltimore reflects a shift in company strategy with regard to migrating its regional portfolio away from “commodity-like suburban office product” towards high-quality, infill space.
Looking ahead, Waesche discussed some potentially influential macroeconomic factors for his company in the coming year. The employment picture rated highly on his list.
“We’re in the jobs business,” he said. “We do think, based on our view of the market, that job growth is finally getting some traction. I think the positive surprise could actually be that the economy is going to do better, jobs are going to grow and companies have been operating with a tight belt for a number of years now. I think that may be starting to come to an end, and we’ll start to see some positive growth, both with employment and the need for office space.”