Four of Philadelphia Region’s Top CEOs Assemble to Debate Future of Commercial Real


Top executives from PREIT, Liberty Property Trust, Jefferson Health, and Hersha Hospitality discuss adaptation to technology, consumer trends, and election results

Yesterday, four of the region’s top CEOs assembled to discuss and debate the future of the commercial real estate industry at the CRE Change Summit, held at AKA Washington Square on Chestnut Street.

The exclusive, invitation-only event — organized, moderated, and sponsored by Brad Korman, Co-CEO of Korman Communities, and Jake Reiter, President of Verde Capital — was highlighted by insights into how each commercial real estate sector is adapting to the evolving political landscape, technology, and ever-changing shifts in consumer behavior. The discussion revealed a common theme driving the future of hospitality, healthcare, office, industrial, and retail real estate: a development and management philosophy rooted in consumer and tenant experiences.

The Summit’s prestigious panel of speakers included Joseph Coradino, CEO, PREIT; William Hankowsky, Chairman, President and CEO, Liberty Property Trust; Stephen Klasko, President and CEO, Jefferson Health; and Jay Shah, CEO, Hersha Hospitality.

Mr. Coradino, whose publicly traded investment trust owns and operates more than 25 million square feet of retail space, observed a fundamental paradigm shift in demands from shoppers.

“Malls have ceased to be a place where people just shop; they’re a place where people have experiences,” Coradino said. “We’re making investments to provide things like healthcare, dining, and entertainment, because each of those pieces are becoming essential to a rich and engaging shopping experience.”

Mr. Shah, CEO of Hersha Hospitality, which provides turnkey management, asset management, and receivership solutions for 125 hotels nationwide, echoed the sentiment, adding that hotels should be designed to reflect the consumer’s evolving lifestyle.

"In the hospitality sector, we want to offer service and an environment that provides emotional connectivity and less friction,” commented Shah. “Consumers are rejecting commoditized travel experiences, opting for a more unique experience based on their stay occasion. As a result, we're using new tools and listening devices to gather consumer insights and anticipate guest tastes and preferences to provide a uniquely tailored experience at each of our hotels.”

Meanwhile, Liberty Property Trust’s William Hankowsky offered perspective on how the company is adapting its 96-million-square-foot office and industrial portfolio, reflecting an evolving dynamic in which businesses seek workspaces that offer fresh environments for employees.

“It’s become clear to us that the impact of technology on all sectors of real estate is profound,” Hankowsky added. “In addition to a shift toward high-grade industrial assets that harness the emergence of e-commerce, we want to be in key markets in which we can develop new office product from the ground up. More and more, employers are following employees, and it’s our job to build cutting-edge facilities that have evidence of a vision and passion for the employee experience.”

Mr. Klasko, whose healthcare entities service nearly two million patients each year, noted that healthcare is, in many ways, transforming into a hospitality experience.

"We’re striving to provide a more consumer-oriented, seamless patient experience that reflects the technological efficiencies that they’re encountering in other parts of their lives,” said Klasko. “It allows us to collectively become more empathetic, communicative, and creative healthcare professionals."

The CRE Change Summit is part of an annual CEO Symposium series organized by Reiter and Korman on a not-for-profit basis. The conferences, organized in conjunction with JFRE, an affiliate of the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia, are designed to provide intimate, candid discussion about the most cutting-edge trends in real estate from the industry’s most esteemed leaders.

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