A decade after the rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn paved the way for much of the development you see today, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has new leadership for its Board of Directors reflective of the transformation occurring in the area.
Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) President and CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin and MakerBotCEO Bre Pettis will serve as the new board co-chairs, succeeding Alan Fishman, the DBP Board Chair since the Partnership was founded in 2006. Robert Catell, who also served as a co-chair, retired from the position in 2012.
“MaryAnne and Bre know Downtown Brooklyn from the inside out and are the perfect leaders to help bring the area into another remarkable decade of meaningful growth,” said Fishman. “Downtown Brooklyn will continue to flourish in their hands.”
FCRC is the biggest commercial landlord in Brooklyn with a concentration of its holdings Downtown, where it owns the 5 million-square-foot MetroTech office complex, which serves as home to MakerBot. As a leader in 3D printing, the latter has helped boost the area’s viability as a hub for tech-based innovators and entrepreneurs.
“Downtown Brooklyn’s dynamism has allowed MakerBot to grow by leaps and bounds by attracting some of the best and brightest employees,” said Pettis. "The super innovative people and all the infrastructure to put that talent to work are here. I don't think I would have been able to launch my business as successfully anywhere else and that's a message that I really want to get out there."
Gilmartin said she hopes to continue to transform the neighborhood into an attractive commercial destination, primarily for the city's fast-growing tech firms.
"The days of this area being a back-office location are winding down," Ms. Gilmartin said. "It's the media and tech and creative companies that are coming here, especially as rents have risen in areas like midtown south."
Historically, Downtown Brooklyn served as the borough’s leading commercial, cultural, and retail hub. An area-wide rezoning completed in 2004 ushered in the area’s new era as a place to both live and work – with more than 8,200 residential units in some 60 residential towers coming on line in the past decade. Since its founding in 2006, DBP has nurtured $5.2 billion in private investment and facilitated more than $400 million in improvements to the public realm.
“When the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership launched in 2006, Downtown Brooklyn looked, felt and served a very different role than today,” Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Tucker Reed said in a statement. “Now, new firms and families are choosing to be here because of the neighborhood’s strong foundation and rich history. MaryAnne and Bre embody a new generation of Brooklyn entrepreneurs, and I am delighted that we’ll be able to tap into their experience and wisdom.”
Ms. Gilmartin, president and CEO of Forest City since 2013, has led the development of high-profile real estate projects like the Barclays Center, Atlantic Yards development and the New York Times Building. Ms. Pettis has run MakerBot, a company that provides reliable and affordable desktop 3-D printing, since it was founded in 2009.
“Under years of guidance by Alan Fishman, Bob Catell and Bruce Ratner, I have seenDowntown Brooklyn transform into one of the City’s best neighborhoods for business, entertainment, and raising a family, and I know the best is yet to come,” Ms. Gilmartin said. “Bre, Tucker and I will work tirelessly to continue to bring superior companies, jobs, housing and retail to this area while making sure its public spaces serve the community’s needs and desires.”
Though the chairs of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership do not manage the organization day-to-day, Ms. Gilmartin said she and Mr. Pettis will be active in charting its strategy and initiatives. Among the goals on her agenda is improving the area's streetscape, a plan that she said would include enhancing a connection between the new Brooklyn Bridge Park and the sliver of parks that run from the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge south to Borough Hall.
"We have all the right pieces here," Ms. Gilmartin said. "The goal is to put them all together."