REITs@50: Industry Reflections, Milton Cooper of Kimco Realty Corporation

As part of our REITs@50 Anniversary celebration, sat down with Milton Cooper, chairman of Kimco Realty Corporation (NYSE: KIM) and former NAREIT chair. When asked about NAREIT's contribution to the growth and development of REITs, Cooper spoke about the organization's integral role in helping the industry come together and find common ground.   

"NAREIT has been the cohesive force that has keeps together a group of individual entrepreneurs with individual egos and molded them into an industry," Cooper said.

Like many others, Cooper recognized the importance and impact that listed REITs had on both the REIT community and the commercial real estate market as a whole.

"It has created a vibrant market. It has created a liquid market. It has created liquid real estate. That's a major accomplishment," Cooper said.

When it comes to significant events in the history of the REIT industry, the 1999 legislation that allowed REITs to create taxable subsidiaries is what Cooper listed as one of the most vital. According to him, the provision put REITs on the same playing field as the rest of corporate America.

"For REITs, it opened up the ability to have a development business," Cooper said. "It enabled REITs to do so much more to aid tenants, the ability to do so much once the inhibitions of the past were just eliminated."

Cooper was eager to share his views on the future of the industry as well.

"It is moving forward. It will grow," Cooper said. "I think you will see REITs in many other categories. Industries who want to monetize their assets will look to REITs to monetize their real estate assets. I think it will grow in size dramatically."