Cover Story Developer of the Year 2018

Commitment to NAIOP St. John Properties is a strong supporter of NAIOP , which it views as the nation’s leading commercial real estate trade association. Ed- ward St. John is a founding member of NAIOP’s Maryland Chapter, which was established in 1985 and currently has more than 400 members. St. John Properties hosts monthly chapter meetings at its headquarters in Baltimore. St. John Properties is one of three major nancial contributors to the chapter’s “Penny per Square Foot” fund, which supports the NAIOP Maryland Legislative Committee and acts as a unifying voice and lobbying force for both NAIOP Maryland and its sister chapter, NAIOP DC | MD. The legislative committee tracks bills, enacts strat- egy on relevant legislative issues and represents the general legisla- tive interests of commercial real estate companies in the state. Twenty-six employees of St. John are currently members of NAIOP; three executives are members of NAIOP chapter boards. • Richard Williamson , senior vice president of leasing and market- ing, currently serves on the board of NAIOP Maryland. • Thomas Pilon , senior vice president of development, currently serves as public affairs chair, NAIOP Maryland. • Matt Holbrook , regional partner, Northern Virginia and Central Maryland, currently serves on the board of NAIOP Northern Vir- ginia. “You cannot do it all yourself,” says St. John. “That’s why we sup- port NAIOP all the way and in any way we can. We attend every function, and we always have at least two people involved at the board level every year.” ■

back looking the same, but more suitable for ofce uses. Although St. John Properties made its mark with the introduction and perfection of ex/R&D in Maryland, it has continually expanded into other products as the market and tenants have demanded. From ex buildings, the company moved to one- and two-story ofce structures and then on to multilevel ofce build- ings and large-scale developments. Where retail space was once added to building lobbies to service existing tenants, the development of retail space became a separate division at St. John Properties as the com- pany’s highly compact and efcient business parks – containing one to ve buildings – were expanded to become mixed-use, multifunctional business communities. Following its expanded ofce and retail mix, St. John Properties incorporated residential uses as integral parts of its communities. For example, at its Greenleigh at Crossroads project in Middle River, Maryland, it responded to a request from the late Baltimore County Ex- ecutive Kevin Kamenetz to include residential in what had originally been designed as predominantly ofce, industrial and retail space. At its Melford Town Center in Bow- ie, Maryland, where it has already constructed more than 1 million square feet of ofce and ex/R&D space, St. John Properties has responded to requests for affordable residential products. The company rezoned the project to include up to 1,800 residential home sites, apart- ments and senior living units. St. John Properties is vertically integrated and is proud that no third party gets between it and its

tenants. When tenants speak to a property manager, they know they are speaking to St. John Properties. This customer-centric approach has helped the company maintain a portfolio-wide occupancy rate of 90 percent. Its founder’s focus on listening to the tenant has become formalized into company policy over the years with two staff people dedicated to interviewing all of the tenants in the portfolio once a year. The company nds the interview process so important that it has tak- en it a step further and also inter- views all of its employees annually, using a list of about 10 questions. “We interview every one of our employees on how they are feeling about the company, about their job and about how their supervisor is treating them,” says St. John. St. John said that he used to conduct

the interviews himself when the rm had only 25 employees. St. John has a passion for excel- lence and focuses on surrounding himself with the very best people. He explains: “Everybody who stays with our company for four to ve years or longer is the best there is, or they don’t stay. It’s just the atmosphere around here; everybody is very good at what they do.” Build Speculatively Every Year Unlike most developers, St. John Properties builds speculatively every year – year in, year out – deliver- ing roughly between 300,000 and 1 million square feet of space. Interestingly, the company generally does not offer build-to-suit devel- opment options. “Build-to-suits

Reprinted with permission from Development magazine, published by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association



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