This month ULI Philadelphia spotlights Bill Hankowsky, President, Chairman and CEO of Liberty Property Trust, for its leadership in our inaugural Awards for Excellence honoring the legacy of Bill Rouse. Bill Hankowsky will be speaking at the June 18th reception where the award winners will be announced.
What has being a ULI member done for you professionally or personally? ULI has been a tremendous asset to Liberty because it focuses on the real estate community as a whole. The organization is very active in working to improve the profession, the community and individual career development through networking and programming.
Tell us a little about your firm. Liberty Property Trust is a $9 billion office and industrial REIT that operates in 24 markets in the US and UK. Currently, we have 101M square feet in the portfolio and another 5M square feet under construction. We are the largest real estate firm in Pennsylvania and one of the top 30 largest firms in the country.
Liberty’s Five Crescent Drive, the new GlaxoSmithKline headquarters at the Navy Yard, is one of the finalists of this year’s inaugural awards for Excellence. What makes this project so unique? High performance buildings are the future of where the industry is headed, and this project is a great example of that. This particular building is LEED double-platinum, which is a first for the region. Today, companies view their real estate as more than just a physical asset – it’s also a place from which they run their companies better. GSK wanted their office to do just that. With its open floor plan, focus on less email and highly efficient business philosophy, Five Crescent Drive is a dramatic example of how office space is changing inside and out.
What would you be doing if you weren’t involved in real estate? I‘d be more active in the organizations I am passionate about such as the Kimmel Center and Chamber of Commerce. I believe in giving back, and there are lots of meaningful issues that deserve our attention.
What types of projects interest you right now? High performance buildings.Of the 50 projects that are either recently completed or are under construction, all of them have high performance characteristics. And that doesn’t even include the new Comcast Innovation and Technology Center! People are much more conscious about how they can use their offices in a more effective way.
What do you see as our biggest land use challenge? Our biggest challenge moving forward is how to reuse obsolete real estate. This will permeate all types of real estate from industrial to churches to office space. In Philly, we’ve taken old office buildings and made them offices and hotels. Moving forward, we have to consider, what does this building want to be so that it is the most productive use of the space? We will see much more repositioning to make some of these old buildings into higher performing structures.
Liberty Property Trust is the Legacy Sponsor of ULI Philadelphia’s inaugural Willard G. “Bill” Rouse Awards for Excellence. How important has Bill’s legacy been to our regional real estate scene? How does it continue to impact our region today? When you think of America’s cities, very few individuals and companies have made as big an impact on the skyline as Bill and Liberty Property Trust has made in Philadelphia. First, Liberty Place One and Two broke the height barrier, followed by the Comcast Center; soon the Comcast Innovation and Technology will redefine the skyline. Beyond that, Bill made an impact on three major areas: the business — whether it was redefining the city skyline or redesigning suburban office parks, Bill reimagined what space could do; the City – Bill’s leadership roles at organizations like the Convention Center and Kimmel Center continue to have lasting impacts; and people — If you talk to anyone in the real estate community, you will meet a lot of folks that Bill touched at some point in his career.
Are there any other projects or regional trends you’d like to highlight? Philadelphia has been gaining population in the last few years. Young people are starting to find the city an attractive place to live. We’d be crazy not to invest in resources like public education to get them to stay. We also need to champion good, thoughtful design quality as an industry. We are in a business where once we create a product, we can’t move it. People come to places with good architecture, and we should steward that.