Meet the top 50 leaders in Brooklyn real estate, architecture, design and development. Working in fields as various as journalism, food, architecture, development, and historic preservation, they are helping to make Brooklyn a better place.
Selected by a panel of judges comprising principals from Apartment Therapy, Alchemy Studio, CWB Architects, FXCollaborative Architect (formerly FXFOWLE) and REBNY, as well as Brownstoner, they will be honored at the Brownstoner RADD Awards on Thursday, March 22. (Get your tickets here.)
Here they are, in alphabetical order:
Founder and Principal, Morris Adjmi Architects
Morris Adjmi Architects specializes in interpreting the history and complex forces that shape cities to create buildings that are contextual but clearly contemporary. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and member of the Board of the Tulane University School of Architecture. The firm is behind the design of notable projects such as the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. Recently, they completed a reserved brick condominium on Pacific Street in Boerum Hill.
Facility Manager and Watchtower Representative, Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York
Headquartered in Brooklyn Heights since 1909, the Jehovah’s Witnesses relocated to Warwick, N.Y., at the end of 2017. During their time here, they built or acquired some of the largest properties in Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo, including the former Squibb pharmaceutical plant, Leverich Towers, Hotel Bossert and Standish Arms. In recent years, they have sold most of their Brooklyn holdings, estimated to be worth more than $1 billion, shaping the Brooklyn of today and tomorrow. Accepting a RADD award on their behalf is Robert Alexander, who lived in Brooklyn Heights for 44 years and acted as a community liaison for more than 30 years.
J. Jean Austin
Principal Broker and President, Brooklyn Bridge Realty
A real estate broker for more than 30 years, J. Jean Austin formed Brooklyn Bridge Realty in 1996. They were the first independent brokerage to join the Real Estate Board of New York and welcome co-broking of listings throughout the borough. Under her leadership, they represented Fulton Landing in Dumbo and the Strong Place Church in Cobble Hill. From 2007 until 2010, she served as the first woman chairperson of the Gowanus Canal Development Corporation.
Real Estate Broker, Compass
In 2006, Lior Barak co-formed the Barak Blackburn Team, which has handled more than $1 billion in total property sales and over $50 million in land and development sites in Manhattan and Brooklyn to date. Specializing in North Brooklyn, the Barak Blackburn Team has worked on an array of Brooklyn’s most prominent new developments in addition to townhouse and apartment resales and rentals. Barak has lived in Williamsburg with his family for the past 15 years.
Principal, Barrett Design
Alex Barrett founded Barrett Design in 2005, combining architectural design and real estate development in one boutique firm. It was one of the first to focus on historic properties in Brooklyn, where Barrett grew up. He was previously at Beyer Blinder Belle, known for adaptive reuse and historic preservation. Recent projects include 4 and 8 Downing Street in Clinton Hill.
Andrew Barrocas founded MNS in 2006 and has sold over $5 billion worth of property. He heads up a team of more than 125 people focused on residential real estate and oversees more than a billion dollars worth of property. Barrocas is an active member of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP).
President, RedSky Capital
With more than 10 years of experience handling $1.5 billion in real estate in both Brooklyn and South Florida, RedSky cofounder Ben Bernstein oversees the firm’s investment strategy. Adhering to a long-term hold philosophy, the Brooklyn-based RedSky owns, develops and operates real estate. The firm’s Brooklyn portfolio is worth more than $1 billion and includes a number of distinctive projects in Williamsburg and the former Triangle Sports building in Park Slope. Formed in 2006, RedSky brought Brooklyn’s first Apple Store to Bedford Avenue, and is currently developing a Morris Adjmi-designed mixed-use building on a former Puccio Marble property in Williamsburg.
Real Estate Broker, Compass
In 2006, Christine Blackburn co-formed The Barak Blackburn Team, which has handled more than $1 billion in total property sales and over $50 million in land and development sites in Manhattan and Brooklyn to date. Specializing in north Brooklyn, the Barak Blackburn Team has worked on an array of Brooklyn’s most prominent new developments in addition to townhouse and apartment resales and rentals. Blackburn has sold more than 500 properties in Williamsburg and Greenpoint alone and currently lives in Fort Greene.
Jill Seligson Braver
A former advertising account manager for Fortune 500 companies, Jill Seligson Braver started in real estate in 1993. At Brown Harris Stevens, she specializes in brownstone Brooklyn. A Brooklyn Heights homeowner for 40 years, she has lived in Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights. She won the Brown Harris Stevens Broker of the Year for Brooklyn Heights award in 2017.
Born in Switzerland, Stefanie Brechbuehler is a principal at Workstead. The global design studio was founded in Brooklyn and one of their first projects was designing a kitchen in Brooklyn Heights. Workstead creates spaces as well as objects such as furniture and lighting. The firm designed the public spaces in the Wythe Hotel, as well as a number of residential projects in Brooklyn. Brechbuehler studied architecture and has worked with Michael Graves, Gensler, and Roman and Williams, among others.
Nehemiah homeowner, East Brooklyn Congregations
Established in 1979, East Brooklyn Congregations comprises schools, congregations, and homeowners associations. Best known for their Nehemiah homes, the group has a remarkable track record of community-led development. They have to date built more than 4,000 single-family homes purchased at below-market rates by their occupants in eastern Brooklyn. Other projects include building two public high schools, $5 million in park overhauls, and other neighborhood improvements. In 2017, they help draft a proposal for a new affordable housing plan that suggested the city turn vacant NYCHA sites into housing for low-income seniors. Nehemiah homeowner Zandra Brockman is accepting a RADD award on the group’s behalf.
Real Estate Broker, Douglas Elliman
Rebekah Carver is the former co-owner of Brooklyn Hearth Realty, which she helped start in 2006 and was influential in Ditmas Park’s growing popularity with home buyers. Last year, Carver and her colleagues joined Douglas Elliman and helped open the firm’s first Ditmas Park office. Originally from Montpelier, Vt., she handles multiple transactions for many of her clients.
Managing Partner, Dekalb Market Hall
Anna Castellani moved to Brooklyn in 1986 and opened her first business, the General Store, in Dumbo in 2000, which initially sold art supplies to local artists and gradually became a successful neighborhood restaurant. In 2005, Castellani opened grocery store Foragers at the corner of Front and Adams Street in Dumbo. Recently, she conceptualized, designed and developed the subterranean DeKalb Market Hall in downtown Brooklyn at City Point, which opened in 2017.
Chairman and CEO, Red Apple Group
John Catsimatidis is the Chairman and CEO of the Red Apple Group, an umbrella organization with holdings in real estate, energy, finance, insurance, and the supermarket business. Red Apple Group recently opened The Eagle, the latest in a number of residential buildings they have built in Downtown Brooklyn, and are currently at work on a mixed-use development on the Coney Island boardwalk. Born in Greece, Catsimatidis studied at Brooklyn Tech and New York University, and established 10 Red Apple supermarkets on the Upper West Side by the time he was 25.
Founder and Executive Director, ODA
Since Eran Chen founded ODA in 2007, it has become one of the most prolific and influential architectural firms working in Brooklyn. The firm has a reputation for delivering innovative designs. Recent projects include 10 Jay Street, 420 Kent Avenue and 10 Montieth Street. Prior to founding ODA, Chen served as a principal at Perkins Eastman NYC.
Founder and CEO, TerraCRG
Ofer Cohen founded TerraCRG in 2008 to focus on commercial real estate exclusively in Brooklyn. He is currently a board member of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the co-chair of the its Real Estate Committee. He is on the board of directors of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Brooklyn Hospital Foundation and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
Jared Della Valle
CEO and Founder, Alloy Development
An architect and real estate developer for more than 20 years, Jared Della Valle cofounded Alloy in 2006. The company designs, develops, constructs and markets their own buildings. One of their biggest recent projects is 1 John Street, a condo development in Brooklyn Bridge Park overlooking the water near the Manhattan Bridge that holds the Brooklyn Children’s Museum annex.
President and Park Administrator, Prospect Park Alliance
Susan Donoghue sets the vision and overall strategy for Prospect Park. Prior to her appointment in October 2014, she served as Senior Advisor and Assistant Commissioner at NYC Parks, where she helped guide PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg’s blueprint for enhancing the city’s sustainability. In 2017, she oversaw the year-long celebration of Prospect Park’s 150th anniversary and the restoration of one of the park’s oldest structures, the Wellhouse.
President and CEO, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation
David Ehrenberg serves as the President and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, helping develop the yard, the local economy, and jobs. He oversees 330 tenants and the yard’s 2.5 million-square-foot expansion. In 2017, Building 77, a former storage facility and one of the Navy Yard’s most formidable buildings, made its debut as a state-of-the-art technology hub.
Tom Elghanayan and Fred Elghanayan
Co-Founders and Principals, TF Cornerstone
TF Cornerstone Chairman Tom Elghanayan and President Fred Elghanayan began in 1970 with the renovation of a small brownstone. Now their property portfolio comprises more than 8 million square feet. Tom handles acquisitions, finance, planning, residential marketing and management, while Fred leads the company’s construction division. One of their latest projects is the 714-unit mixed-use residential development at 33 Bond Street in Downtown Brooklyn, designed by Handel Architects.
Chef Educator, Brownsville Community Culinary Center
Rodney Frazer is a veteran of the food service industry with more than 27 years of experience as an executive chef and operations manager, including at Peaches Hothouse in Bed Stuy. He’s the Chef Educator at the Brownsville Community Culinary Center, which launched in 2017 and offers job training to Brownsville residents, fresh food at reasonable prices and community space for local nonprofits.
Managing Director, Midtown Equities
Now Managing Director at Midtown Equities, Jeremy Frenkel most recently oversaw the development of Empire Stores in Dumbo — the award-winning $150 million transformation of historic warehouses into an office and retail destination. It opened to the public as part of Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2017. His experience in real estate development includes ground-up development and residential conversions, such as 99 Gold Street in Vinegar Hill.
CEO, L&L MAG
MaryAnne Gilmartin founded New York-based real estate development company L&L MAG with David Levinson and Robert Lapidus in 2018. In her previous role as President and CEO at Forest City Ratner, she oversaw the development of some of the most high-profile real estate projects in Brooklyn, such as the $4.9 billion, 22-acre mixed-use Pacific Park. She is Chair of the Board of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and a member of the Executive Committee of The Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Chief Creative Officer, Head of Design and Construction, DDG Partners
Peter Guthrie is a founding member of DDG Partners, which focuses on mixed-use and luxury residential investment and development. His prior experience includes being the founder and President of Office  design + construction LLC, an integrated architectural design and construction management firm. A recent project is The Standish, a 12-story Beaux Arts former hotel in Brooklyn Heights that launched in 2017 and name checks Superman as a former resident.
Born in Wilson, N.C., Robert Highsmith is a principal at Workstead. The global design studio was founded in Brooklyn and one of their first projects was designing a kitchen in Brooklyn Heights. Workstead creates spaces as well as objects such as furniture and lighting. The firm designed the public spaces in the Wythe Hotel, as well as a number of residential projects in Brooklyn. Highsmith studied music and architecture.
Blogger, Pardon Me For Asking
A resident of Carroll Gardens for more than 30 years, Katia Kelly has been chronicling daily life in her neighborhood since 2007. A rare survivor among independent neighborhood blogs, Pardon Me For Asking covers topics related to development issues, the loss of mom-and-pop stores, and engages the neighborhood in a conversation about Carroll Gardens’ past and future. Kelly’s investigation in early 2017 of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s purchase of a neighborhood brownstone helped lead federal investigators to bring money laundering and fraud charges against Manafort.
President and CEO, Industry City
Andrew Kimball joined Industry City in 2013 to facilitate the transformation of the 6-million-square-foot Sunset Park industrial facility. Since his arrival, Industry City has invested more than $250 million in infrastructure and helped grow the number of people employed there to 6,500. In 2017, ABC Carpet and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams were among the retailers who opened in Industry City. Kimball previously served as President and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, and currently serves on the boards of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Gowanus Canal Conservancy, Prospect Park Alliance and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, among others.
Timothy D. King
Managing Partner, CPEX Real Estate
Brooklyn born and raised, Timothy D. King co-heads the firm’s business line divisions and business development. With more than 40 years of experience in real estate, he has helped attract national retailers to Brooklyn, including Saks Off Fifth in Sunset Park, and assembled Downtown Brooklyn development sites. A former partner and Brooklyn head at Massey Knakal Realty, King spent 20 years as manager of the Commercial, Industrial, and Investment Division at Fillmore Real Estate in Brooklyn.
Managing Partner, CPEX Real Estate
In his role as Managing Partner of CPEX, Brian Leary co-heads the firm’s business line divisions and business development along with Timothy King. He began his full-time career in 1989, and for three years was a managing partner of a small, Brooklyn-based construction and landscaping business servicing the five boroughs. He spent time at the Bear Stearns Companies, Millenia Realty Services, and Massey Knakal Realty Services, where he was Managing Partner of the Brooklyn and Staten Island branches.
Chairman, Douglaston Development
As the founding principal of the Douglaston Companies — comprising Douglaston Development, Levine Builders, and Clinton Management — Jeffrey Levine has directed new construction or rehabilitation of thousands of residential units and millions of square feet of commercial retail, office and institutional spaces. Douglaston Development helped develop the Williamsburg waterfront, including a water taxi pier, pedestrian esplanade, the Edge, 1 North 4th Place and, most recently, Level BK.
Principal, Madison Estates
A principal at Madison Estates since 1992, Gerard Longo is also the principal at Mettle Property Group, the spin-off of the development division of Madison. Projects include the Townhouses of Cobble Hill and condos at 70 Henry Street. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Longo is the former President of the Brooklyn New York MLS and held board and officer positions on the Brooklyn Board of Realtors.
With a background in architecture, set design and sculpture, Mahoney joined Workstead in 2010. The global design studio was founded in Brooklyn and one of their first projects was designing a kitchen in Brooklyn Heights. Workstead creates spaces as well as objects such as furniture and lighting. The firm designed the public spaces in the Wythe Hotel, as well as a number of residential projects in Brooklyn.
Founding Partner and Design Principal, S9 Architecture
With more than 30 years of experience, Navid Maqami spearheads a diverse range of projects, including interior design and large mixed-use complexes. A recent project is the adaptive reuse of the landmarked mid-19th century Empire Stores warehouses in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which opened in 2017. Currently underway is the ground-up office development known as Dock 72 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
David J. Maundrell III
EVP of New Developments for Brooklyn and Queens, Citi Habitats
David J. Maundrell III founded aptsandlofts.com in Williamsburg in 2002 and developed the company into one of most successful privately owned real estate firms in New York. In 2015, he sold the firm to NRT, and Maundrell was named the EVP of New Developments for Brooklyn and Queens for Citi Habitats. A native of Williamsburg, Maundrell lives in Brooklyn and serves on the board of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and is involved with local organizations such as the Red Hook Alliance and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
CEO, Komaru Enterprises
Amber Mazor has been a developer and design-builder in Brooklyn since 2002, when he established his award-winning company, Perfect Renovation. As CEO of Komaru Enterprises, two of his most notable projects have been the conversion of the landmarked Castle and the George B. and Susan Elkins House, both in Crown Heights. In his spirit, Mazor is a treasure finder and a believer that the game should always be win-win.
CEO and Creative Director, Roll & Hill
With a background in art and advertising, Jason Miller founded lighting company Roll & Hill, which makes and sells his own designs from Jason Miller Studio as well as works from a carefully curated group of other artists. Based in Industry City in Sunset Park, Roll & Hill is a driving force in the thriving Brooklyn lighting design scene.
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, Halstead
Having worked in New York City for more than 17 years as a designer and architect, Morgan Munsey is now a real estate agent for Halstead, where he specializes in townhouses in Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill and Downtown Brooklyn. He is restoring his 1890 Stuyvesant Heights home and has researched thousands of buildings in the area. Munsey gives historic walking tours of downtown and north-central Brooklyn, where he is involved in local preservation efforts.
Founder, TEN Arquitectos
In 1986, Enrique Norten founded TEN Arquitectos in Mexico City, where he was born and studied architecture at Iberoamericana University, and in 2001 opened a second office in New York. With more than 300 projects, and more than 60 works built, including 300 Ashland in Fort Greene, Enrique has also held the Miller chair at the University of Pennsylvania since 1998, and has lectured all over the world in a diverse array of institutions and universities.
President, Alloy Development
With a background in art, architecture and real estate, AJ Pires was project manager for Peter Walker & Partners on the World Trade Center Memorial in downtown Manhattan. At Alloy, he manages the acquisition, financing, design and building of projects that aim to advance thoughtful design and enrich the built environment of New York City. A recent project is 1 John Street, a condo development in Brooklyn Bridge Park overlooking the water near the Manhattan Bridge that holds the Brooklyn Children’s Museum annex.
Associate Real Estate Broker, Corcoran
Brooklyn residential real estate agent Deborah Rieders has sold more than $1 billion of real estate and has been Corcoran’s Brooklyn Heights Broker of the Year for 16 years. Rieders is a member of the Boerum Hill Association, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Cobble Hill Neighborhood Association. Rieders previously worked in museum design, graphic art and art direction.
Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design
Known for distinctive townhouse renovations that contrast the contemporary with the traditional, Elizabeth Roberts has degrees in both architecture from U.C. Berkeley and historic preservation from Columbia University. The Gowanus-based firm, which Roberts founded in 1998, offers full-service architecture and interior design for residential and commercial spaces. Bringing a warm urban minimalism to projects, Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design highlights the unique elements in a space by creating “quiet” around them.
President, Brooklyn Historical Society
President of Brooklyn Historical Society since 2006, Deborah Schwartz has been responsible for re-envisioning the history museum and overseeing award-winning projects. In 2017, the society launched a satellite museum at Empire Stores in Dumbo, with a focus on the history of the Brooklyn waterfront.
Principal, Slate Property Group
A founder of Slate Property Group, David Schwartz has more than 17 years of experience buying, developing and operating real estate across the United States. In Brooklyn, he heads ground-up projects such as mixed-use and multifamily developments. The company recently completed the conversion of a landmarked warehouse to condo designed by ODA at 51 Jay Street in Dumbo.
Associate Real Estate Broker, Nest Seekers
Since beginning in real estate in 2008, Ryan Serhant has become one of the most prominent brokers in the world, with agents under his leadership in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and the Hamptons, and has recently turned his attention to Brooklyn with a new office in Bed Stuy. The star of Bravo’s two-time Emmy-nominated “Million Dollar Listing New York” and the upcoming “Sell It Like Serhant,” he is also a frequent contributor to CNN, CNBC, the Today Show and Bloomberg TV.
Creative Director, Flavor Paper
Jon Sherman rescued a defunct wallpaper company’s equipment and founded Flavor Paper in New Orleans in 2003. The company moved to Brooklyn in 2009 and built an award-winning print studio and showroom in Boerum Hill. The firm’s innovative wall coverings are in permanent collections in museums around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum. The customizable, hand screened, digitally printed, or temporary papers include an exclusive Andy Warhol collection, conductive wallpaper, and scratch and sniff designs. Perhaps best known for Brooklyn Toile, codesigned by Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys, Flavor Paper recently expanded into a second Brooklyn location in Industry City in Sunset Park.
President and CEO, Thor Equities
As President and CEO of Thor Equities, a global development, leasing and real estate management company, Joe Sitt has invested heavily in Brooklyn, including development along the boardwalk of Coney Island and at the former Revere Sugar Factory in Red Hook. He is on the board of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, has mentored Brooklyn youth, served on the boards of Brooklyn’s Flatbush High School and TAB High School, and founded women’s clothing retailer Ashley Stewart. A recent project is redeveloping the former site of the Salvation Army at one of the busiest intersections in Williamsburg.
Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan
President, Stribling & Associates
Since being named president in 2013, Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan has helped grow Stribling & Associates, founded by her mother in 1980, to include more than 300 agents in four offices across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Stribling-Kivlan lives in Brooklyn Heights with her wife Rebecca and two dogs Kiki, a pug, and Jambon, a French bulldog. She is on the board of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy and GLSEN, an organization championing LGBT issues in grade schools across America.
Founder, Preserving East New York
A love for historic buildings and her community inspired Zulmilena Then to form Preserving East New York (PENY) to advocate for the preservation of historic buildings in East New York, the first neighborhood affected by the Mayor de Blasio’s rezoning plan. In 2017, the group helped landmark the Empire State Dairy, the first designation in East New York in 36 years. Then works for the architecture firm Michael Ivanhoe McCaw Architect, located in the Stuyvesant Heights Historic District.
Michael Van Valkenburgh
President and CEO, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
Landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh founded Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, a landscape architecture firm with offices in Brooklyn, New York and Cambridge, Mass. The 80-person firm designs public and private spaces of all sizes, from the large urban open expanse that is Brooklyn Bridge Park to the small garden at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In 2010, MVVA’s design for Brooklyn Bridge Park was awarded the Brendan Gill Prize from the Municipal Art Society of New York.
CEO, Two Trees Management
As the CEO of Two Trees Management, Jed Walentas oversees acquisition, planning, development, construction, marketing and leasing. Under his leadership, Two Trees helped transform Dumbo into a vibrant community that has preserved and built upon the area’s historical fabric. Two Trees built and operates the Wythe Hotel and is currently at work on the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg. Recent projects include 300 Ashland, which opened its plaza in 2017 and has recently seen the launch of Brooklyn’s second Apple Store and Whole Foods 365. Walentas is on the boards of REBNY, the Shed, Creative Time, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. He lives with his wife Kate Engelbrecht, a photographer, and their children, Theo and Filo, in Manhattan.
For tickets to the RADD Awards on Thursday, March 22 at One Hanson Place, click here.
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