In a surprise announcement on Friday night, Greenland USA said that I-Fei Changwas stepping down as president and chief executive officer of the Shanghai-based development company.Such an abrupt departure "for personal reasons," with the news buried on a Friday night, does not indicate a happy transition. We don't know if the reasons have to do with the projects at hand, or internal tensions, or something else. But it's another example of a major executive (remember Jim Stuckey and Bruce Bender?) leaving from the developer's side.
Little explanation was given from Greenland as to why Ms. Chang was stepping down other than a line in a press release saying, “Greenland Group recognizes Ms. Chang’s achievements, and respects her choice to resign for personal reasons.”
...While a successor has not been named, according to the release shared with Commercial Observer, Gang Hu, former executive vice president and founding member of Greenland USA, will take on Ms. Chang’s responsibilities. Requests for further comment were declined.
Greenland, of course, bought 70% of Atlantic Yards (excepting the arena and B2 tower) from Forest City under Chang's watch, and promptly renamed the project Pacific Park Brooklyn. It also bought the huge Metropolis project in Los Angeles, part of a rapid expansion into the U.S. and other major markets.
Chang was regularly quoted in press releases regarding the Brooklyn project, such as the one last December for the 535 Carlton groundbreaking:
“Today’s groundbreaking is a celebration for all New Yorkers, and is a result of the tireless dedication of our partners within State and City government. We’re extremely proud of Pacific Park’s impact on the community through mixed-use development, affordability for a wide range of families, diversity, open space, and leading design,” said I-Fei Chang, CEO & President of Greenland USA and CEO of Greenland Forest City Partners.In April 2014, Bloomberg News reported:
The speed at which Ifei Chang, 49, assumed her position as president and chief executive officer of Greenland U.S. Holding and her equally swift investment in two multibillion-dollar deals demonstrate the pace at which Chinese companies are committing to large-scale construction outside their homeland.
It took just one 15-minute phone call in July to persuade Ifei Chang to join Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holding Group Co. and lead a U.S. expansion. Within three months, she was running $6 billion of projects as part of a record push by Chinese investors into American property.
Chang told the Real Deal that she hopes "to find more meaningful, visionary projects." The magazine reported that Chang spent most of her time in Los Angeles, while her successor, Greenland USA’s current executive vice president Gang Hu, lives in Brooklyn.
Chant told the Real Deal that it was her decision to leave Greenland, given that the projects were moving forward. I don't find that too convincing.