City & State's Brooklyn Power 50 has several people linked to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, but no one from Forest City
Thus they bypassed the obvious candidates, as noted in the lead:
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is identified with Brooklyn. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate minority leader and the most powerful Democrat in Washington, D.C, was born and raised there. Other high-profile political power brokers--Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams--also hail from the borough.Unsurprisingly, several on the list have some ties to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park and, perhaps unsurprisingly by now, the mostly highly-ranked person closely connected to the project, former Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, is no longer at Forest City.
Moreover, no Forest City executive makes this list, a sign that the company has transitioned from being a developer pursuing ambitious projects, which typically need special approvals and political juice, to being a real estate investment trust, mainly reaping income from existing projects. Instead, a couple of executives connected to the Barclays Center--who, come to think of it, have gained some special approvals--make the list.
Any such list is arbitrary, with various rankings subject to question, so I'll offer some excerpts and some comments/observations.
From the list: the leaders
1. Jed WalentasWalentas arguably does belong in the top cluster, but it should be noted that the Domino site is in Williamsburg's South Side, not South Williamsburg, which is the home of the Satmar sect of Hasidic Jews.
CEO, Two Trees Management
It is extremely rare for anyone to have an opportunity to remake one New York City neighborhood in their lifetime, but the Walentas family has rejuvenated two. Four decades after transforming an industrial swath under two Brooklyn bridges into one of the most desirable and priciest places to live in the city, Jed Walentas set out to accomplish the same feat in South Williamsburg. His Two Trees Management development firm purchased the long-defunct Domino Sugar complex in 2012 and unveiled a $1.5 billion rezoning plan for the 11-acre site with a mix of housing and retail spaces designed by SHoP Architects and a waterfront park. Two Trees opened the park in June, giving Williamsburg residents access to the area after the factory closed in 2004. Walentas will soon have company. Other developers, including Eliot Spitzer, are poised to open large rental complexes to his south while new towers continue to rise to the north. Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to add a streetcar along Kent Avenue to supplement ferry service that stops on both ends of the complex.
More importantly, that 11-acre site, though an important development and an example of a successful political deal for the developer, has a far more fractional impact on Williamsburg than Two Trees' domination of DUMBO.
Also, that squib doesn't get the transportation right. There's no ferry service at either end of the complex yet--the NYC Ferry stops some six blocks to the north and five blocks to the south. And it should be noted that Walentas is a prime mover behind the streetcar, which is both quite controversial and significantly in doubt. (Those issues are noted in a separate article in the print issue.)
2. Jonathan Rosen and Valerie BerlinRosen and Berlin may have shrugged it off, but, as I wrote for City Limits, those emails show how the 535 Carlton affordable housing was packaged for the press. Unmentioned in the squib is that the firm has long worked for Forest City Ratner/Forest City New York, as well as the successor joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners.
Jonathan Rosen and Valerie Berlin have had New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ear since helping the Park Slope politician break through a crowded Democratic mayoral field five years ago. Rosen is so close to the City Hall brain trust that de Blasio ferociously fought to shield their written correspondence from reporters by naming him an “agent of the city” in court papers. The malediction did little to boost Rosen other than garnering unwanted attention, and ultimately a judge ruled against the mayor, allowing his petty grievances against the media to be aired in May. Rosen and Berlin shrugged it off and their eponymous firm continues to expand, attracting real estate and high-powered nonprofit clients like The Hudson Companies Inc. and the Brooklyn Public Library. In the past year, they have also hired David Levine, a former Hillary for America executive and a veteran of the Obama White House, as the firm’s chief operating officer, and added two senior executives to head up their philanthropy and lifestyle practices.
Ranking #3 are public affairs consultants Rebecca Katz and Bill Hyers of Hilltop Public Solution. Then comes:
4. Regina MyerPerhaps any leader of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership deserves a top rank among Brooklyn powerbrokers, but it should be noted that Myer benefits from the momentum created by previous executives, as well as the accumulated clout and money of downtown developers. She is not merely pushing for a greenway but has proven a reliable promoter of developments like the proposed 80 Flatbush project.
President, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
Five years ago, most New Yorkers didn’t think about Downtown Brooklyn as a destination other than as a place to serve jury duty. That’s changing quickly. Cranes have been lifting I-beams on nearly every block as multistory residential towers pierce the horizon. Sales prices have risen too this year, making the neighborhood one of the most robust real estate markets in New York City. A driving force behind the rising demand in the borough’s downtown area is Regina Myer, who joined the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership in 2016 after leading the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp. Myer has helped lure tech companies, real estate developers and commercial tenants to the Fulton Street corridor. Last year’s opening of City Point – a residential and commercial entertainment complex with a gourmet food hall, grocery store and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – has been a godsend for residents who have had to trek to Fort Greene or Boerum Hill for food and entertainment options. Now Myer is pushing for a greenway at the Brooklyn Strand, connecting Downtown Brooklyn to the waterfront with new bike paths.
(Note that Myer's predecessor, Tucker Reed, gets ranked #36 as founder of the real estate consulting firm Totem.)
I was surprised to see the #5 ranking going to Linda E. Johnson, who's a significant player, but perhaps with less clout than, say, a few people ranked not far below, like David Ehrenberg, President and CEO, Brooklyn Navy Yard (#7) or Andrew Kimball, CEO, Industry City (#8).
In the second round, Gilmartin arrives
After David Greenfield, CEO, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (#10), Brooklyn Democratic Party powerbroker Frank V. Carone (#11), Iris Weinshall, Chairwoman, Prospect Park Alliance (#12), comes:
13. MaryAnne Gilmartin(Emphasis added)
CEO, L&L MAG
What does the CEO of Forest City New York, who spearheaded Pacific Park, one of the most complex real estate projects in Brooklyn’s history, do for an encore? Why, start her own firm. MaryAnne Gilmartin launched her own development firm L&L MAG in January, taking a slew of Forest City executives with her. The connection won’t be severed. She plans to serve as a liaison with government agencies to help Forest City build 2,250 affordable units on the 22-acre Downtown Brooklyn site.
Is her new position an encore? Well, in some ways it's a step up, given that she's a founder, albeit of a firm with deals not yet nailed down. But the squib wrongly implies that Gilmartin somehow deserves kudos for the complex, troubled Pacific Park, which proved a financial setback for Forest City New York and its parent, Forest City Realty Trust.
To be clear, her firm has a service contract with Forest City to serve as a liaison to help the joint venture--of which Forest City owns 5% going forward--build out the entire remaining project, which could involve 5,188 apartments. So far, 782 affordable units have been built, leaving 1,468 to be built.
Note that, while the developer once called the site "Downtown Brooklyn"--though most is in Prospect Heights--now it's claiming the project somehow occupies its own neighborhood, Pacific Park.
Then comes Yormark
From the list:
16. Maureen Hanlon and Brett YormarkThat's an interesting ranking. I'm sure that Madison Square Garden would still claim superiority, as well as greater profits, but Barclays is definitely on the map. Yormark notoriously bungled the Islanders' move, which proved painful to the arena's finances. (He was originally hired by Forest City to be CEO of the Nets and the arena, and now works for Mikhail Prokhorov.)
President, Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA Inc.; CEO, BSE Global
The Brooklyn Nets may not be the best team in the NBA (they missed the playoffs last year) and the New York Islanders can’t wait to play hockey back in Nassau County, but Maureen Hanlon and Brett Yormark have built up the Barclays Center into the city’s premiere home for sports and entertainment. Yormark is also working to renovate the LIU Brooklyn Paramount Theater, which would seat 3,000 people and rival Radio City Music Hall with music and comedy.
That said, they deserve credit for the clout to get Borough President Eric Adams to, surprisingly, support moving the hockey team out of Brooklyn and to get New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to commit public funds to re-renovating the Nassau Coliseum during the Islanders' interim stay.
Lower down the list, Pratt's Shiffman
Surely Doug Forand, Senior Partner, Red Horse Strategies (#34) deserves credit for winning Brooklyn City Council re-election campaigns (Carlos Menchaca, etc.), I'm not sure his firm deserves credit for "nearly toppl[ing] Rep. Yvette Clarke with rising star Adem Bunkeddeko," given the analysis here by Will Bredderman of Crain's.
It was interesting to see #35 go to Frances Bronet, the new President of the Pratt Institute, and Ronald Shiffman, a professor there and "co-founder of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development," now known simply as the Pratt Center.
"For decades, Shiffman, the former city Planning Commission member, has urged planners to make neighborhoods more livable, and his most enduring legacy may be populating government agencies with planners who thrived under his tutelage," the article states. Indeed, Shiffman deserves great credit for his achievement--and, remember, he served on the board of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.
An influential pastor and an enduring advocate
40. Clinton MillerIndeed, Miller had both supported his friend Hakeem Jeffries in the latter's 2006 run for state Assembly while also criticizing Atlantic Yards, and later helped recruit potential plaintiffs for a threatened, but not pursued, housing discrimination suit that led to the 2014 settlement that provided a new timetable--if not greater affordability--for the Atlantic Yards affordable housing.
Pastor, Brown Memorial Baptist Church
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted to speak at an African-American church on a Sunday after Cynthia Nixon declared her candidacy, he called the Rev. Clinton Miller. Surprisingly, the Brown Memorial Baptist Church pastor declined, saying the governor had not helped enough minority- and women-owned businesses. This month, he signed a letter chiding Nixon for auctioning drug paraphernalia at a fundraiser. Miller is one of the few religious leaders in Brooklyn who can call his own shots with politicians, something both candidates are realizing.
42. Bertha LewisLewis might have garnered a higher rank years earlier, when she was closer to de Blasio and also to Forest City Ratner, when it was a power broker. As I've written, Lewis has previously praised the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park affordable housing, but did not participate in the most recent affordable housing promotion, perhaps because of that distance from de Blasio. (And maybe because she too recognizes that much of the housing isn't that affordable?)
Founder and President, The Black Institute
Bertha Lewis is a survivor. Following the dissolution of ACORN, the largest community activist organization in the country, Lewis founded The Black Institute in 2010 to shape public policy. Once an ally to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Lewis isn’t afraid to criticize him, calling his administration “incompetent and immoral” over the city’s rate of contracting with minority- and women-owned businesses. These days she’s going all-in with Cynthia Nixon against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, citing the incumbent’s “disingenuous” recent visits to NYCHA.