Forest City New York Chief Executive Officer MaryAnne Gilmartin confirmed earlier this week the rumors she is leaving Forest City to start her own development firm with two partners, Robert Lapidus and David Levinson, both principals at L&L Holding. She’ll be CEO of the new firm and is taking four Forest City execs with her: Ashley Cotton, Susi Yu, Jeffrey Rosen and Adam Greene.
The new firm, which will open for business Friday, will be called L&L MAG (a combination of L&L and Gilmartin’s initials). It will consult on Pacific Park for Forest City, serving as a liaison between government agencies and Forest City and helping the developer meet its legally mandated goal of building 2,250 affordable units by 2025, the Real Deal reported Monday.
The affordable housing requirement was imposed by the state and city after Mayor de Blasio took office.
L&L MAG will also develop its own housing, hotel, retail and office spaces. Or, in the company’s own words, it “brings together purposeful, committed builders to develop beautiful projects that enhance the skyline and streetscapes of our communities while delivering value to partners and investors.”
Unusually, the new company’s portfolio on its website consists of projects developed by Forest City and L&L — all projects the new team worked on, but not under the auspices of the new firm — suggesting a close relationship akin to a spinoff.
Meanwhile, Forest City New York plans to reduce its ownership of Pacific Park from 30 percent to 5 percent, the company announced Monday. Joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners will own 95 percent of the 22-acre development site.
Work on the complex has slowed somewhat since four new residential towers opened, including 550 Vanderbilt and 461 Dean Street.
The next building, known as B4, is slated to break ground sometime in 2019, Greenland Forest City Partners said. Design work on the building will start this year. It will be residential.
Forest City, which recently reorganized itself as a REIT or real estate investment trust, may be moving to distance itself from liability over Pacific Park. Its multi-million-dollar lawsuit with former partner Skanska over the modular affordable housing tower at 461 Dean Street known as B2 is ongoing.
Bruce Ratner, past the traditional retirement age at 72, has reduced his day-to-day role in Forest City. Ratner, now executive chairman of Forest City New York, was an NYU professor of law and worked in city government before joining the family company.
Pacific Park, originally known as Atlantic Yards, is the biggest and most controversial development project in Brooklyn in decades, spawning protests, lawsuits and a documentary film, “Battle for Brooklyn.”
In the works since at least 2003, the development’s design was initially going to be headed up by starchitect Frank Gehry, who parted ways with the venture in 2009.
The project has come under fire for using eminent domain for private development and for its affordable housing, among other things.
Of a possible eventual 17 buildings, including the critically acclaimed Barclays Center, five have been completed. A new rendering of the entire site posted on L&L MAG’s site shows the first glimpse of several towers.
One of these, in the northwest corner of the site, could rise to about 800 feet, making it one of the tallest skyscrapers in the borough, according to an analysis of the rendering by New York YIMBY.
Forest City is one of the most powerful and influential developers in Brooklyn, whose key projects have changed the landscape of the borough. They include the MetroTech office complex in Downtown Brooklyn, the Atlantic Terminal Mall in Fort Greene and Pacific Park.
MaryAnne Gilmartin is one of a handful of women leaders in commercial real estate in New York, who steered Forest City at difficult times.
“MaryAnne is one of the most successful executives in an industry that would benefit from more women like her in leadership roles,” said Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress.
L&L MAG touts its female leadership, saying on its website, “we are a proud woman cofounded and managed company dedicated to inclusivity in the real estate industry.”
L&L MAG founder David Levinson told The Real Deal, “New York City is long overdue for a woman to serve as cofounder and CEO of a major development company. MaryAnne has more than demonstrated her unique combination of vision, perseverance and leadership throughout her remarkable tenure at Forest City.”
Longtime Pacific Park watchdog Norman Oder, writing in new Brooklyn business publication The Bridge Saturday, was the first to report the new venture.
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