Saturday, January 16, 2016

"She's very direct": Wall Street Journal buffs Forest City's Gilmartin

A very friendly Wall Street Journal profile today is headlined If a Project Is Easy, This Real Estate CEO Isn’t Interested, subtitled "Forest City Ratner Co.’s MaryAnne Gilmartin aims to challenge the real-estate industry’s norms."

It begins with a now-familiar anecdote about how she sold Forest City to the New York Times:
Suddenly a young man walked in, dressed as a vintage paperboy. “Extra! Extra! Forest City builds headquarters building on time and ahead of schedule,” he cried, according to meeting attendees. He unfurled a long project schedule, which Bruce Ratner, then chief executive of the company, cut in half with an oversize pair of scissors.
It was a showstopper.
Unmentioned: the Barclays Center came in late.

The AY summary

Here's the Atlantic Yards summary:
In 2007, she took the lead in the Pacific Park Brooklyn development, a 15-building residential project with 6,430 apartments—2,250 of the units fall into the affordable housing category—that has weathered lawsuits, the recession and four gubernatorial administrations. For it, she later negotiated an $800 million partnership with Greenland USA, a subsidiary of a China-based developer.
Ms. Gilmartin’s enthusiasm for the construction of a 32-story modular building overlooking Barclays Center, which Forest City also developed, hasn’t waned despite lawsuits and stalled construction.
Construction has restarted on the tower. She visits the development site nearly every day, hoping it will eventually serve as proof that her company and Greenland can build other high-rises in a similar way.
I wouldn't say it has "weathered... four gubernatorial administrations" but rather it's been "greased by" them.

Unmentioned:
  • the name change from Atlantic Yards to Pacific Park
  • the "impairment" (paper loss) Forest City took on the partnership with Greenland
  • the fact that Forest City previously sold only a minority stake in its projects but this time gave up 70% and thus control
  • the mold and other damage in the stalled modular tower
  • the warning to workers in the modular plant that they might be laid off
Nor, of course, were any community members consulted.

A strong negotiator

The article states:
Over the years, Ms. Gilmartin has developed a reputation as a strong negotiator. “She is very direct,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.
Um, well, sometimes threatening, sometimes "less than pleasant, if not rude."

The photo

Note the caption of Gilmartin and her partner/boss, Hu Gang, CEO of Greenland USA. He replaced Ifei Chang, who left--or was disappeared--rather quietly and quickly last November.
Photo by Andrew Hinderaker for the Wall Street Journal

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