Liberty Property Trust (the “Trust”) is a self-administered and self-managed Maryland real estate investment trust (a “REIT”). Substantially all of the Trust’s assets are owned directly or indirectly, and substantially all of the Trust’s operations are conducted directly or indirectly, by its subsidiary, Liberty Property Limited Partnership, a Pennsylvania limited partnership (the “Operating Partnership” and, together with the Trust and their consolidated subsidiaries, the “Company”).
The Company completed its initial public offering in 1994 to continue and expand the commercial real estate business of Rouse & Associates, a Pennsylvania general partnership, and certain affiliated entities (collectively, the “Predecessor”), which was founded in 1972. As of December 31, 2009, the Company owned and operated 349 industrial and 290 office properties (the “Wholly Owned Properties in Operation”) totaling 64.4 million square feet. In addition, as of December 31, 2009, the Company owned three properties under development, which when completed are expected to comprise 381,000 square feet (the “Wholly Owned Properties under Development”), and 1,355 acres of developable land, substantially all of which is zoned for commercial use. Additionally, as of December 31, 2009, the Company had an ownership interest, through unconsolidated joint ventures, in 47 industrial and 49 office properties totaling 13.8 million square feet (the “JV Properties in Operation” and, together with the Wholly Owned Properties in Operation, the “Properties in Operation”), two properties under development, which when completed are expected to comprise 600,000 square feet (the “JV Properties under Development” and, together with the Wholly Owned Properties under Development, the “Properties under Development,” which in turn are referred to, together with the Properties in Operation, as the “Properties”) and 630 acres of developable land, substantially all of which is zoned for commercial use.
The Company provides leasing, property management, development and other tenant-related services for the Properties. The industrial Properties consist of a variety of warehouse, distribution, service, assembly, light manufacturing and research and development facilities. They include both single-tenant and multi-tenant facilities, with most designed flexibly to accommodate various types of tenants, space requirements and industrial uses. The Company’s office Properties are multi-story and single-story office buildings located principally in suburban mixed-use developments or office parks. Substantially all of the Properties are located in prime business locations within established business communities. In addition, the Company, individually or through joint ventures, owns urban office properties in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The Company’s strategy with respect to product and market selection is expected generally to favor metro-office, multi-tenant industrial and flex properties and markets with strong demographic and economic fundamentals.
The Trust is the sole general partner and also a limited partner of the Operating Partnership, owning 96.6% of the common equity of the Operating Partnership at December 31, 2009. The common units of limited partnership interest in the Operating Partnership (the “Common Units”), other than those owned by the Trust, are exchangeable on a one-for-one basis (subject to anti-dilution protections) for the Trust’s Common Shares of Beneficial Interest, $0.001 par value per share (the “Common Shares”). As of December 31, 2009, the Common Units held by the limited partners were exchangeable for 4.0 million Common Shares. The Company has issued several series of Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Units of the Operating Partnership (the “Preferred Units”). The outstanding Preferred Units of each series are exchangeable on a one-for-one basis after stated dates into a corresponding series of Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Shares of the Trust. The ownership of the holders of Common and Preferred Units is reflected on the Trust’s financial statements as a component of total equity as “non-controlling interest — operating partnership.”
In addition to this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the Company files with or furnishes to the SEC periodic and current reports, proxy statements and other information. The Company makes these documents available on its website, www.libertyproperty.com, free of charge, as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. Any document the Company files with or furnishes to the SEC is available to read and copy at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Room 1580, Washington, DC 20549. Further information about the public reference facilities is available by calling the SEC at (800) SEC-0330. These documents also may be accessed on the SEC’s web site, http://www.sec.gov. Also posted on the Company’s website is the Company’s Code of Conduct, which applies to all of its employees and also serves as a code of ethics for its chief executive officer, chief financial officer and persons performing similar functions. The Company will send the Code of Conduct, free of charge, to anyone who requests a copy in writing from its Investor Relations Department at the address set forth on the cover of this filing. The Company intends to satisfy the disclosure requirement under Item 5.05 of Form 8-K regarding any amendments to or waivers of the Code of Conduct by posting the required information in the Corporate Governance section of its website.
Management and Employees
The Company’s 469 employees (as of February 24, 2010) operate under the direction of 19 senior executives, who have been affiliated with the Company and the Predecessor for 18 years, on average. The Company and the Predecessor have developed and managed commercial real estate for the past 37 years. The Company maintains an in-house leasing and property management staff which enables the Company to better understand the characteristics of the local markets in which it operates, to respond quickly and directly to tenant needs and to better identify local real estate opportunities. Business Objective and Strategies for Growth
The Company’s business objective is to maximize long-term profitability for its shareholders by being a recognized leader in commercial real estate through the ownership, management, development and acquisition of superior office and industrial properties. The Company intends to achieve this objective through offering office and industrial properties in multiple markets and operating as a leading landlord in the industry. The Company believes that this objective will provide the benefits of enhanced investment opportunities, economies of scale, risk diversification both in terms of geographic market and real estate product type, access to capital and the ability to attract and retain personnel. The Company also strives to be a leading provider of customer service, providing an exceptional and positive tenant experience. The Company seeks to be an industry leader in sustainable development and to operate an energy-efficient portfolio. In pursuing its business objective, the Company seeks to achieve a combination of internal and external growth, maintain a conservative balance sheet and pursue a strategy of financial flexibility.
The Company strives to be a recognized quality provider of five products (industrial properties, including big box warehouse, multi-tenant industrial, and flex/R&D; and office properties, including single-story office and multi-story office). The Company’s strategy with respect to product and market selection is expected generally to favor metro-office, multi-tenant industrial and flex properties with strong demographic and economic fundamentals. However, consistent with the Company’s strategy and market opportunities, the Company may pursue office and industrial products other than those noted above.
The Company operates primarily in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeastern, Midwestern and Southwestern United States. Additionally, the Company owns certain assets in the United Kingdom. The Company’s goal is to operate in each of its markets with an appropriate product mix of office and industrial properties. In some markets it may offer only one of its product types. Generally, the Company seeks to have a presence in each market sufficient for the Company to be viewed as a significant participant in that market. The Company’s efforts emphasize business park development and asset aggregation. The Company gathers information from internal sources and independent third parties and analyzes this information to support its evaluation of markets and market conditions. Organizational Plan
The Company seeks to maintain a management organization that facilitates efficient execution of the Company’s strategy. As part of this effort, the Company pursues a human resources plan designed to create and maintain a highly regarded real estate company through recruiting, training and retaining capable people. The structure is designed to support a local office entrepreneurial platform operating within a value-added corporate structure. The Company upgrades its information technology periodically to keep pace with advances in available technology.
Internal Growth Strategies
The Company seeks to maximize the profitability of its Properties by endeavoring to maintain high occupancy levels while obtaining competitive rental rates, controlling costs and focusing on customer service efforts.
Maintain High Occupancies
The Company believes that the quality and diversity of its tenant base and its strategy of operating in multiple markets is integral to achieving its goal of attaining high occupancy levels for its portfolio. The Company targets financially stable tenants in an effort to minimize uncertainty relating to the ability of the tenants to meet their lease obligations.
The Company seeks to identify best practices to apply throughout the Company in order to enhance cost savings and other efficiencies. The Company also employs an annual capital improvement and preventative maintenance program designed to reduce the operating costs of the Properties in Operation and maintain the long-term value of the Properties in Operation.
The Company seeks to achieve high tenant retention through a comprehensive customer service program, which is designed to provide an exceptional and positive tenant experience. The customer service program establishes best practices and provides an appropriate customer feedback process. The Company believes that the program has been helpful in increasing tenant
Energy Efficiency Initiatives
The Company is committed to improving the energy efficiency of the existing buildings in its portfolio and has made a substantial effort to design environmentally friendly features in the buildings it develops.
The Company has been an active participant in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) program. The LEED program, which was created to recognize environmental leadership in the building industry, establishes a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. The Company has over seven million square feet of LEED projects completed in 41 buildings, including the 1.25 million square foot Comcast Center, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Company believes that green building techniques can result in positive environmental results and significant economic returns to tenants in terms of savings in operating costs and improved employee performance.
The Company has also taken significant steps to measure the energy efficiency of the existing buildings in the portfolio and to move forward with efforts to improve the energy efficiency of these buildings. These efforts have included, in various cases: (1) conducting energy audits; (2) performing lighting retrofits and installing lighting controls; (3) installing building automation systems; (4) installing improvements designed to increase energy efficiency; and (5) establishing and implementing a green property management guide and green training program.
The Company’s efforts in this area are ongoing. The Company intends to continue to explore methods of enhancing the performance of the buildings in its existing portfolio.
External Growth Strategies
The Company seeks to enhance its long-term profitability through the development, acquisition and disposition of properties either directly or through joint ventures. The Company also considers acquisitions of real estate operating companies.
Current market conditions are not favorable for the development, acquisition and disposition of properties and consequently the Company expects growth in profitability from these sources to be limited at least in the near term.Wholly Owned Properties
The Company pursues attractive development opportunities, focusing primarily on high-quality suburban industrial and office properties within its existing markets. When the Company’s marketing efforts identify opportunities, the Company will consider pursuing opportunities outside of the Company’s established markets. The Company and its Predecessor have developed over 62 million square feet of commercial real estate during the past 37 years. The Company’s development activities generally fall into two categories: build-to-suit projects and projects built for inventory (projects that are less than 75% leased prior to commencement of construction). The Company develops build-to-suit projects for existing and new tenants. The Company also builds properties for inventory where the Company has identified sufficient demand at market rental rates to justify such construction. Since current market conditions are not generally favorable for speculative development, the Company anticipates that any development starts for 2010 will be substantially pre-leased.
During the year ended December 31, 2009, the Company completed two build-to-suit projects and 13 inventory projects totaling 2.9 million square feet and representing an aggregate Total Investment, as defined below, of $299.9 million. As of December 31, 2009, these completed development properties were 73.2% leased. The “Total Investment” for a Property is defined as the Property’s purchase price plus closing costs and management’s estimate, as determined at the time of acquisition, of the cost of necessary building improvements in the case of acquisitions, or land costs and land and building improvement costs in the case of development projects, and, where appropriate, other development costs and carrying costs.
As of December 31, 2009, the Company had three Wholly Owned Properties under Development, which are expected to comprise, upon completion, 381,000 square feet and are expected to represent a Total Investment of $83.4 million. These Wholly Owned Properties under Development were 72.7% pre-leased as of December 31, 2009.