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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

With Community Liaison Office now staffed by Greenland marketing director, a fading role for L&L MAG

This is the eighth of ten articles on the 5/7/19 Quality of Life meeting. The first concerned the project schedule. The second concerned The Brodsky Organization's share of the B4 tower. The third concerned noisy weekend construction. The fourth concerned opacity in the Barclays Center calendars. The fifth concerned illegal parking during arena events. The sixth concerned traffic issues. The seventh concerned oversight. The ninth concerned the developer's update. The tenth concerned the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation.
One question I raised in my preview: now that Forest City Ratner no longer exists, its parent company having been absorbed by Brookfield Asset Management, will L&L MAG, the firm founded by former Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin, still have a role?

Answer: not really.

The disclosure came up after a question about the Community Liaison Office, or CLO.

Refresher: at the end of every two-week Construction Update, it states that the Community Liaison Office has been staffed by various personnel:
How to Reach Pacific Park Brooklyn Community Liaison Office (CLO)
The Community Liaison Office is located at 591 Dean Street. Visitors seeking the office should enter through the gate on Dean Street. The CLO’s hours are M-F from 9am – 4pm and can be reached by phone at 866-923-5315 and by email at communityliaison@pacificparkbrooklyn.com
Is the CLO still administered by L&L MAG, asked resident Peter Krashes.

No, said Tobi Jaiyesimi of Empire State Development.

The contact number is exact same, added Scott Solish of Greenland USA, which owns nearly all of Greenland Forest City Partners. "We still communicate with L&L MAG as necessary, but it’s fully staffed."

Who's the CLO now?

"Is there a specific person?" Krashes asked.

"Her name is Christina Chao," Solish said. "She's been with Greenland for several years, and has been at last several meetings, [but] couldn’t make it tonight." If so, she's never announced herself or been introduced.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Chao, a bilingual graduate of Rutgers University and then Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (with an M.S. in Real Estate Development), has been Director of Marketing, Business Development & Investors Relationship for Greenland USA since some point in 2017.

Her responsibilities:
  • Supervise residential sales of 550 Vanderbilt (https://550vanderbilt.com/), a luxury condominium with 278 units, setting company record for unit closing rate in 2017.
  • Oversee community liaison office responsible for communicating with neighborhoods surrounding development sites.
  • Establish trusted communication channel with China Headquarters and serve as conduits between Corporate management and local leadership.
  • Implement Greenland USA brand standards and establish standard sales process.
  • Direct competitive research and consumer trend analysis to ascertain demographic reach and audience in order to better position property amongst competitive landscape. Compile and cross reference research to create insights and strategies for current residential rental building in pre-development phase.
  • Engage international brokers to development overseas sales and marketing strategies.
  • Serve as primary liaison with joint venture partner, i.e. Forest City Ratner.
(Emphases added)

So she oversees the CLO, but maybe isn't always the point person. And it's sure not her priority.

L&L MAG still involved?

Another question came up: Is L&L MAG still involved?

"Not as—not on an active, day-to-day, basis, but we still communicate with them," Solish said.

Remember, at a January 2018 public meeting, after Forest City and Greenland restructure their deal, with Greenland taking all but 5% of the project going forward, Ashley Cotton, who had just left Forest City to join L&L MAG, said that Roberta Fearon, who had run the CLO, was no longer with Forest City.

Cotton then said a group of people, or “me, personally” will continue to handle communication. Later, she was asked directly, “Who’s going to replace Roberta?” “I’m going to take on her responsibilities,” said Cotton.

Cotton did attend several meetings going forward, but had not for several months. (She also was on maternity leave, I'm told, for some period.)

At the recent meeting, the question arose: what does L&L MAG do?

"They represent Forest City and Brookfield for certain aspects of the project," Solish said, a reference to the fact that Forest City at the end of 2018 was absorbed by Brookfield Asset Management and now exists as a subsidiary.

"But not here?" he was asked.

"I'm here," Solish said. "Aren’t I enough?" (I remember him at various points expressing thanks that Cotton, a more experienced public presenter, was taking the lead at such meetings.)

"Ashley Cotton has played, had played such a key role," Jaiyesimi said, citing her institutional knowledge and established relationships as "what was necessary for the transition... That relationship is still there and established, but day to day CLO work, or community relations, is being funneled through Greenland Forest City Partners." (Or, actually, Greenland USA.)

A fading role

At the 2018 meeting, I noted that Cotton had said that L&L MAG had a service contract with Forest City. I asked: “Is it a service contract with the joint venture? Are you speaking for the project or Forest City’s interests?”

“The contract is with Forest City, but I speak on behalf of the joint venture,” Cotton said. “Hand in hand with Scott, I’ve been the spokesperson for the joint venture since it was initiated.”

“But you don’t have a contract with Greenland.”

“No, but neither does Forest City,” she said. “They have a deal with each other…. It’s an ownership stake.”

“Does Forest City—“

“She’s explained it,” Solish interjected.

“I am the spokesperson for the joint venture, as I’ve always been, and L&L MAG has a services agreement with Forest City,” Cotton said. “Forest City has an ownership joint venture with Greenland USA.”

I pointed out that Forest City's relatively tiny share of the project meant that it had little sway. “There could be a little thought bubble over your head at the same time that says ‘5%,’ that’s what I’m trying to understand,” I said.

“You can put whatever thought bubble you want on it,” she said.

As I wrote, when Forest City had 30% of the project, as well as a joint-venture agreement that required mutual assent on major decisions, it essentially had veto power over such things as a new building start.

Unless L&L MAG has a contract with the joint venture or Greenland, I wrote, it’s tougher to see that Cotton represents the full project. And now, as Forest City no longer exists, it seems she doesn't.

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