St. John Properties Celebrates 50 Years of Leadership with Continued Focus on Sustainability and Expansion
“We have become the gold standard in formulating and executing a feasible and sustainable plan for green architecture and will continue evolving in the future,” said Edward St. John, Founder and Chairman
BALTIMORE, MD (November 29, 2021) – St. John Properties, Inc., a commercial real estate development, management and investment company headquartered in Baltimore, MD and founded in 1971 by Edward St. John, is celebrating its 50-year anniversary with a renewed focus on building sustainability and growth. Their 21 million square foot real estate portfolio is valued at over $4 billion, spans eight states and serves more than 2,500 clients. St. John Properties is one of the top five developers of LEED space nationally, and intends to continue to be a leader in sustainability innovation with a mission to deliver buildings that produce more energy than they use, and to further refine processes that improve indoor air quality while boosting employee wellness and productivity.
“The conservation of energy and natural resources, along with the ongoing need to develop and innovate environmentally-friendly buildings have become a priority in attracting new tenants,” explained Edward St. John, Founder and Chairman of St. John Properties. “We have become the gold standard in formulating and executing a feasible and sustainable plan for green architecture and will continue evolving in the future.”
Focus on building sustainability program designed to create new industry standards
A key mission of St. John Properties is to develop sustainable buildings constructed with materials that contribute to an eco-friendly environment, while maintaining indoor environments that promote employee wellness and conserve energy and resources. In an effort to fulfill this mission, the company was one of the first organizations to establish a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program in 2009. Led by a dedicated team of full-time sustainability professionals, St. John Properties has now constructed 87 buildings comprising more than five million square feet of LEED certified space.
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world, and provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. Recognized as Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia’s top LEED developer and among the top five developers of LEED space nationally, St. John Properties has a goal of reaching 100 LEED-certified commercial buildings, totaling six million square feet of space by 2023.
Last year St. John Properties received the Maryland Chapter of U.S. Green Building Council’s “Community Change Agent” award for outstanding efforts in designing and constructing healthy buildings and for the company’s overall impact and leadership in the LEED initiative.
The company’s innovative UV Whole Building Air Purification process, announced earlier this year, is a multi-step strategy that features the installation of UV-C light disinfecting systems designed to eliminate airborne pathogens such as fungal spores, bacteria and viruses that can pass through a building’s HVAC equipment. The process involves replacing existing HVAC air filters with higher-efficiency models that capture more airborne particles; upgrading coil cleaning and HVAC system sanitation, resulting in increased air flow; and utilizing longer HVAC runtimes, allowing for more frequent fresh air circulation throughout a building. To date, St. John Properties has installed these upgraded HVAC systems in 23 of their multi-story office buildings, comprising nearly 2.4 million square feet of space. The company plans to implement these systems during the construction of all new multi-story office buildings going forward.
In an effort to support the use of energy efficient electric vehicles, St. John Properties has installed electric vehicle charging stations at all newly constructed multi-story office buildings across their portfolio. Forty-six charging stations have been installed since 2011, and the company has committed to ensuring all new office and flex/R&D buildings will be EV-ready by proactively installing infrastructure to support future demand for charging equipment.
One of the company’s sustainability goals is to roll out a scalable and economic solar approach on top of all building types and to deliver buildings that naturally produce more energy than they use, in order to create a net positive. Future sustainability endeavors also include a focus on building health and wellness and a continuation of their LED lighting program, which has resulted in the upgrade of more than 10,000 lighting fixtures throughout the St. John Properties portfolio to date.
Talent pipeline generated by Partner-in-Training program energizes national expansion
St. John Properties will continue their long-term plan to establish independent satellite offices in emerging and economically-diverse markets across the country. The company’s pioneering Partner-in-Training program provides candidates with rigorous training and education in every discipline of the commercial real estate process including development, construction and sustainability, marketing, leasing, tenant improvements and property management. Upon completion of the four-year program, professionals will open a new St. John Properties regional office.
Six professionals have completed the Partner-in-Training program, and an additional six are currently enrolled. St. John Properties is currently targeting several new markets to enter, specifically those in the Southern regions of the country.
“Young professionals enrolled in our Partner-in-Training Program represent the future of St. John Properties,” stated Lawrence Maykrantz, President and CEO of St. John Properties. “This program requires long-term investment of human and financial resources to execute our expansion objectives throughout the United States. We have found this to be a highly-effective way to identify talented professionals who we believe have the skills and leadership traits to manage a team and effectively execute our development program.”
50 years of building innovation
After graduating with his Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Maryland College Park, Edward St. John assumed control of his family’s small commercial real estate portfolio, which included five 10,000 square foot industrial buildings. He began to learn the intricacies of commercial real estate and the responsibilities of being a landlord while working with his tenants, which were comprised of a variety of small and medium-sized businesses. Listening to and placing the needs of his tenants first was an early lesson learned and this stimulated his drive to expand his portfolio.
As he gained a better understanding of companies’ commercial real estate needs, St. John began to focus on developing a “part office/part industrial” single-story building separated into bays which enabled companies to achieve the custom configuration that their individual business required. Professional service-oriented companies were able to design a space consisting of nearly 100% office space, while small-manufacturing entities could create an environment with 90% production/warehouse space and 10% office space. The relative percentages of these configurations were limited only by the imagination of the end-users. Each building was outfitted with a standard office door in the front entrance of the bay and an 8 x 10-foot drive-in door in the rear that was suitable to accept and output over-sized equipment or deliveries.
After a client remarked that he spent considerable time at the office and desired an environment that better reminded him of his home, St. John significantly upgraded the building with an elevated brick and glass exterior and residential-like landscaping. This practice soon expanded throughout the company’s portfolio. The company, then named Maryland Industrial Enterprises and subsequently MIE Properties, Inc., quickly began to assemble land holdings and constructing flex/R&D buildings and small business communities throughout Maryland and Northern Virginia, making St. John one of the first to widely develop the product across the market – a product that is still ubiquitous with St. John Properties today.
Speculative development approach fuels growth by anticipating client needs
The company, which rebranded to St. John Properties, Inc. in 2005, is differentiated in the marketplace by its philosophy of developing real estate product on a speculative basis. This enables St. John Properties to immediately respond to the emerging requirements of new and existing clients. During each of the last four consecutive years, the company has speculatively broken ground on more than one million square feet of space throughout its eight-state portfolio.
The company expanded to Colorado and Wisconsin in 1987, opened a regional office in Frederick, Maryland to service Central Maryland and Northern Virginia in 1996, and entered the Louisiana marketplace in 2000. In 2012 the company purchased the one million square foot Harrisburg Mall in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and launched its gaming division with Boomtown Casino is Reno, Nevada. In 2014, St. John Properties opened its most recent regional office in Utah.
Company began development of high-profile mixed-use communities in 2011
In Howard County, Maryland, the company partnered with master developer Greenebaum Enterprises on the office and flex/R&D buildings at Maple Lawn, a mixed-use community that contains more than one million square feet of commercial office and flex/R&D space, as well as medical buildings and retail uses in a “Main Street-style” environment. The Maple Lawn community boasts approximately 1,300 residential units including townhomes and single-family houses.
Greenleigh is a 1,000-acre mixed-use community in Baltimore County, Maryland and upon completion will include 1,900 residential units, including single-family homes, townhomes and multifamily units, along with more than 2.5 million square feet of commercial, retail, self-storage and hospitality space. Somerset Construction Company is a development partner on this project.
St. John Properties has developed more than 1 million square feet of commercial office, flex/R&D and retail space at Melford Town Center. The mixed-use community in Bowie, Maryland contains a Courtyard by Marriott hotel, with plans to add more than 250,000 square feet of commercial space and over 1,400 residential units.
In Utah County, Utah, St. John Properties is developing the $250 million Valley Grove mixed-use business community which, on completion, will be configured to support more than one million square feet of commercial office, retail and restaurant space, as well as a full-service hotel.
Recognition of accolades and employees
In 2018, NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, selected St. John Properties, as its Developer of the Year – the association’s highest national honor.
“This was the greatest accomplishment that we’ve achieved throughout our 50-year history,” said Edward St. John. “We believe in the power of hiring the right people, working hard and giving back to the community. This national recognition validates our corporate culture of performing to the best of our ability each day and doing what it takes to get the job done right.”
“For five decades, St. John Properties has performed as a true innovator in the commercial real estate industry,” stated Thomas J. Bisacquino, NAIOP president and CEO. “The company’s notable accomplishments, extensive portfolio and commitment to sustainability are a testament to its passion for advancing both the quality of the properties it develops and our industry. NAIOP was thrilled to honor St. John Properties with our highest honor in 2018, celebrating the company as our Developer of the Year and recognizing its outstanding quality of projects and services, adaptability to varying market conditions, and support of its local community. Congratulations to St. John Properties for all it has achieved and all that is ahead for this terrific company.”
In December 2019, in celebration of achieving its goal of developing 20 million square feet of commercial real estate, St. John Properties distributed a $10 million bonus amongst its employees. The bonus was paid out solely based on each employee’s years of service, with the average employee receiving $50,000.
In 2020, St. John Properties was recognized by the Baltimore Business Journal as the #1 Best Place to Work in the large business category. The company cited its unique workplace culture as one of its strengths, in more than a third of all current employees have a tenure exceeding 10 years. “We take enormous pride in our ability to attract and retain the best talent in the real estate industry. Our investment in retaining this talent is invaluable, and is reflected in the tremendous accomplishments executed by our team on a daily basis,” explained Lawrence Maykrantz.
Edward St. John Foundation focuses on transformative power of education
A founding principle of St. John Properties is to invest long-term in the communities they serve. The company encourages on-going philanthropic activities by its employees with a matching gift program, and has been ranked on the Baltimore Business Journal’s list of top Corporate Philanthropists since 2014. In 2020, Baltimore-area employees gifted $3.48 million to non-profit organizations and volunteered 5,472 combined hours.
The Edward St. John Foundation, created in 1998, donates 7.5 percent of St. John Properties’ net profits annually. The Foundation has gifted over $65 million to more than 750 organizations, with a focus on entities dedicated to providing educational opportunities to people of all ages. The Foundation’s mission is to utilize the transformative powers of education to change lives and strengthen communities. In 2011, the Foundation donated $10 million to the University of Maryland to develop the Edward St. John Teaching and Learning Center at the College Park campus, where St. John earned his electrical engineering degree.
Founded in 1971, St. John Properties, Inc. is one of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest privately held commercial real estate firms. The company is distinguished by its commitment to customer service, achievements in green building, and top-rated workplace culture. Throughout St. John Properties’ 50-year history, the company has developed more than 21 million square feet of Flex/R&D, Office, Retail and Warehouse space serving more than 2,500 clients in Maryland, Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Utah, and Wisconsin. For more information about the company, visit www.sjpi.com.