Mack-Cali Realty Corp. is based at the company’s flagship Harborside campus in Jersey City — Courtesy: Mack-Cali
By Joshua Burd
Mack-Cali Realty Corp. is rebranding to Veris Residential Inc., the company said Tuesday, in a step that reflects its move to a pure-play multifamily operator and a focus on sustainability.
In its announcement, the Jersey City-based real estate investment trust said it will continue to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and will do so under its new name and new ticker symbol, VRE, effective Dec. 10. It also noted that it was “less than a handful of office assets away” from being a full-fledged residential company in growth markets across the Northeast, although it did not mention the status of its flagship commercial properties along the Hudson waterfront.
Mack-Cali, under pressure from shareholders, has moved aggressively in recent years to shed its once-sprawling suburban office portfolio and focus on upscale apartment buildings through its subsidiary, Roseland Residential Trust. The company on Tuesday noted that it has made significant progress over the past several months “in achieving its strategic objectives of simplifying its business, strengthening its balance sheet and enhancing its operational platform,” which has included suburban asset sales valued at more than $1 billion, repaying all corporate-level recourse debt, an extensive internal reorganization and a renewed commitment to environmental, social and governance best practices.
“Since the establishment of our ESG committee in July 2020, the board of directors and management team have worked tirelessly to intricately weave environmental and social considerations into the fabric of the company, serving as a compass to inform our current and future decision-making,” Mack-Cali CEO Mahbod Nia said in a prepared statement. “Our new brand, Veris Residential, encapsulates our responsible, transparent and forward-thinking approach, underpinned by a unified culture grounded in equality and meritocratic empowerment.
“I look forward to leading the company through this next phase of its evolution and building upon our strong momentum this year to continue generating long-term value for our shareholders while positively impacting our residents and the communities we serve.”
In a news release, the company said its current multifamily portfolio has a sector-leading average property age of only seven years, while it has integrated energy efficiency and other environmental considerations into many existing properties and development projects. The REIT also listed several initiatives that it’s now implementing at the property and corporate levels that align with its core values, including:
- Formally endorsing global sustainability initiatives, such as the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact and the Climate Group’s EV 100.
- Enhancing support for diverse and all-inclusive communities, including increasing gender and ethnic diversity within the company and board of directors, establishing employee affinity groups, introducing company-wide diversity training, and becoming a signatory of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Pledge and the U.N. Women Empowerment Principles.
- Reducing its overall carbon footprint by establishing thoughtfully designed new developments, a number of which have received LEED certifications; upgrading building management systems to include smart meters and thermostats as well as remote energy conservation via mobile devices; and considering further ways to mitigate the carbon footprint of existing properties. The company has also adopted 100 percent renewable electricity within its office headquarters and across the communal areas within its multifamily portfolio.
- Adopting cutting-edge technology to improve energy consumption by partnering with like-minded organizations that help enhance the resident experience with smart meter technology and by arming employees with the necessary tools to deliver outperformance.
- Improving the health and wellbeing of its residents and employees, including earning WELL Health and Safety certification across its multifamily properties earlier this year and selectively piloting a number of sustainable technologies, including hydroponic vegetable planting and net zero drinking water solutions, in addition to a wide range of in-place health and wellbeing initiatives.
- Implementing a flexible, hybrid working structure that ensures the company continues to attract and retain experienced, curious, and passionate team members dedicated to helping Veris Residential continue to achieve success.
- Continuing to maintain a deep connection with the residents and communities it serves by aligning with national and local organizations that share its values, partnering with national organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross and the National Forest Foundation while supporting local communities through philanthropic initiatives with Jersey City Medical Center, New City Kids, Boys & Girls Clubs, among others.
“The decision to reposition Mack-Cali as Veris Residential is an important milestone following the transformative steps the company has taken since the reconstitution of the board of directors,” said Tammy K. Jones, the company’s board chair. “As we look ahead, we remain committed to maximizing long-term value for our shareholders while also strategically managing evolving ESG risks and opportunities.
“This integrated approach to the way we conduct our business — one that acknowledges the importance of all stakeholders, strong corporate governance as well as its responsibility to the communities we serve and the planet we inhabit — will be a strong competitive advantage and position Veris for future growth and success.”