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JBG Smith Accepts Steven Roth's Resignation From Board, Appoints New Chairman

Vornado CEO Steven Roth at REITWeek 2014

JBG Smith has a new chairman after accepting the resignation of Vornado CEO Steven Roth.

The Bethesda-based REIT announced in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that its board of trustees voted Thursday to accept Roth's offer to resign, and it named Robert Stewart as its new chairman. 

Roth's offer to resign came after a majority of JBG Smith's shareholders voted at its annual meeting on April 29 to remove him from the board. His resignation reduces the number of board members from 12 to 11. 

The board designated Roth as chairman emeritus, an honorary title to recognize his role in the company's creation. JBG Smith became a publicly traded REIT in July 2017 upon the closing of a merger between The JBG Cos. and a spinoff of Vornado's D.C. arm. 

Neither the company nor its shareholders have publicly revealed any reasons why they voted Roth off the board, but the board said in Thursday's filing it views him as an "invaluable resource" because of his 48 years in the industry. 

"The Board intends to request his advice and Mr. Roth has agreed to continue to be available to advise the Board and management, and the Board and management look forward to his continued guidance in his new role," the SEC filing said. 

Stewart previously served as JBG Smith's vice chairman before ascending to the board's top role. He has worked with JBG since 1988, focusing on the acquisition, financing and selling of its assets, plus managing development plans. 

JBG Smith has focused much of its attention since the merger on its National Landing portfolio, a series of aging office buildings that came from the Vornado side of the deal and were selected by Amazon in 2018 for its second headquarters. The tech giant has hired over 1,600 people to work in space it is leasing from JBG Smith, and it broke ground in January 2020 on the first two HQ2 buildings, with the REIT serving as development partner. 

The REIT is also building a series of multifamily and retail projects in the area around HQ2, and it is serving as development partner for Virginia Tech's new Potomac Yard campus nearby. It has additional developments in Reston and in D.C.'s  Capitol Riverfront, Shaw and NoMa neighborhoods. 

Last week, JBG Smith reported a Q1 net loss of $20.7M. It attributed the loss to continued effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including lower occupancy in its multifamily and commercial portfolios, higher operating costs for multifamily properties and reduced parking income for commercial properties. Its commercial portfolio was 86.9% occupied as of March 31, and its multifamily portfolio was 85.9% occupied.