The CEO of Corporate Office Properties Trust said Thursday the firm is in "prove-me mode," as it adapts its portfolio to serve a workforce more interested in an urban setting, while its longstanding government contractor tenants face slower growth.

The Columbia-based firm is working to win back the confidence of investors and analysts disappointed by some underperforming suburban office properties, CEO Roger Waesche Jr. said at the real estate investment trust's annual meeting for shareholders. He said he expects 2014 to represent a low point for the firm's earnings, with growth coming this year.


The company has closed on two deals in 2015 designed to diversify its holdings — the $63.5 million purchase of 250 W. Pratt Street in March and the $83 million acquisition of Metro Place II in Virginia, which is located on the Washington Metro and within walking distance of amenities.

The Baltimore purchase caught some analysts and investors by surprise, Waesche said in response to a question from former CEO Randall Griffin, who retired in 2012.

"There is change and whenever you have change, there is uncertainty and the analysts and our investors are going through an adjustment period," he said. "We're in a prove-me mode."

Waesche said the firm is working with an architect on plans to build-out 250 W. Pratt Street with retail space, in line with a vision for the corridor promoted by the Downtown Partnership and similar to the addition at 400 E. Pratt Street, which now houses Shake Shack, among other tenants. He said he expects to look at designs in the next few months and hopes to move fast, but there is no set timeline.

Waesche told shareholders he is bullish on the city.

"If you look backwards, you wouldn't buy this building," he said. "You can only buy this building if you look forward and believe in Baltimore and believe in its renaissance."

COPT's stock closed Thursday at $26.70, up 1.75 percent for the day. Shareholders approved compensation, an audit plan and re-elected nine people to the board of directors.