Lease Beat

Hale & Hearty Takes Space in MetroTech Center

2 MetroTech Center

Hale & Hearty Soups will be opening at 2 MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn this fall after signing a 10-year lease for 1,760 square feet, MetroTech Center developer Forest City Ratner Companies announced.

New York-based Hale & Hearty, which has 30 locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island, sells sandwiches made with artisanal breads, salads and 15 to 20 different soups per day. All soups are made from scratch in Hale & Hearty’s Brooklyn kitchens. Read More

Lease Beat

Northside Media Group Heads from Dumbo to DoBro

1 MetroTech Center

After 11 years in Dumbo, Northside Media Group, publisher of The L Magazine and Brooklyn Magazine, moved to Downtown Brooklyn’s 1 MetroTech Center yesterday, according to one of Northside’s co-founders, Daniel Stedman.

The company, which also specializes in the marketing, branding and execution of events like SummerScreen, Absolut Bonus Track and the Northside Festival, was ready for a change and needed bigger digs for its 25 employees, Mr. Stedman said. Read More

The Sit-Down

Tucker Reed Won’t Sleep Until Downtown Brooklyn Becomes a 24/7 Community

Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Tucker Reed is sweet on Brooklyn—big time. A resident of Prospect Heights who enjoys frequenting the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mr. Reed is a champion of the city’s most populous borough. He is a ball of energy as he talks about all of the work the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has done with him as president for the past two years, from supporting the technology sector with the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Coalition to establishing Downtown Brooklyn as New York City’s college town. About a year after Commercial Observer conducted the Sit-Down interview with Mr. Tucker, we wanted to check in and see how the nonprofit has been doing with the reinvention of Downtown Brooklyn. Read More


MaryAnne Gilmartin Named Co-Chair of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Board

MaryAnne Gilmartin

MaryAnne Gilmartin, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, and tech leader MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis will serve as the new co-chairs of the board of directors of the nonprofit Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

“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.” Read More

Sales Beat

Vornado Resolves Extell Dispute, Will Build Luxury Condo at 220 Central Park South

220 Central Park South

Vornado Realty Trust has acquired the land and air rights necessary to proceed with its development at 220 Central Park South, the real estate investment trust announced yesterday.

The $194 million acquisition will allow Vornado to begin construction of its planned 920-foot tall luxury residential condominium and puts to rest an ongoing dispute between the REIT and Extell Development, the seller of the rights. Read More

Atlantic Yards

Chinese Firm Signs Preliminary Deal As Atlantic Yards Majority Investor

(Photo: SHoP Architects, via WSJ)

Chinese state-owned property developer Greenland Holdings Group signed a preliminary deal to buy a majority stake in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards, under which the Shanghai-based investor would take a 70 percent stake from Forest City Ratner Companies.

Under the proposal, Greenland would co-developing the residential portion of the complex and sharing its costs going forward, while FCRC Read More


Lawsuit Alleges FCRC Modular Project Violates Code

Forest City Ratner Companies

An Article 78 litigation proceeding filed last week against the New York City Department of Buildings in the State Supreme Court, New York County, by the Plumbing Foundation City of New York, Inc. and the Mechanical Contractors of New York, Inc., alleges the DOB ignored City plumbing and fire code requirements when it approved the Forest City Ratner Companies plan for the developer’s Atlantic Yards modular project.

According to the lawsuit, the DOB violated the code by approving FCRC’s plan to construct the modular residential building without the supervision of licensed master plumbers and licensed master fire suppression contractors. Read More

Power Broker

Engineering Success: David Cooper on the Future of the WSP Group

David Cooper

When the U.S. branch of London-based engineering consultancy WSP Group was charged by Forest City Ratner Companies and the New York Times with the task of designing the core and shell, as well as the interior, of the Grey Lady’s new headquarters on Eighth Avenue, the team faced a coterie of challenges presented by the advanced technologies required to meet the developers’ sustainability and efficiency demands.

The WSP team, led by president David Cooper, was ready for the task. Read More


Forest City Ratner Continues to Reshuffle, Names Berliner COO

Mr. Berliner

David Berliner has been named chief operating officer of Forest City Ratner Companies, it was announced earlier today. Mr. Berliner had formerly been serving as general counsel for the development company.

“David has long been a valuable member of the executive team with a thorough knowledge of the entire company,” MaryAnne Gilmartin, newly-appointed president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement. “As Chief Operating Officer, he will be a key member of my leadership team and a great partner as I take over the day-to-day responsibilities of the company.” Read More

The Sit-Down

Our Lady of the Forest: MaryAnne Gilmartin On Taking Charge at FCRC

MaryAnne Gilmartin

Last week, Forest City Enterprises confirmed what had become an open secret in New York real estate circles: MaryAnne Gilmartin would succeed Bruce Ratner as president and chief executive of the company’s New York subsidiary, Forest City Ratner Companies. Ms Gilmartin spoke with The Commercial Observer on the day of the announcement last week about the process of deciding on a succession plan, what she will bring to the table and how her ascension to the top of FCRC will impact the way women are viewed in the real estate industry.

Read More

The Lobby

Forest City Ratner Confirms Succession Plans

MaryAnne Gilmartin

Forest City Ratner Companies today confirmed what has long been understood in New York real estate circles: MaryAnne Gilmartin will succeed Bruce Ratner as president and chief executive officer of the development company.

Mr. Ratner, 68, will serve as the executive chairman of FCRC, stepping aside so that Ms. Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial and residential development, can take over.

“I’m exhilarated by the notion of being able to partner with Bruce going forward, but I know business,” Ms. Gilmartin told The Commercial Observer in a telephone interview. “I am a developer at heart so Bruce and I are like-minded in terms of the importance of civic building and community and how we create great places.” Read More

The Lobby

It’s True: Bruce Ratner to Step Down as Forest City CEO


Bruce Ratner is stepping down as CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, a source tied to the organization tells The Commercial Observer, confirming rumors that have been swirling around the industry for the past year.

Mr. Ratner, 68, will step aside this winter, assuming the role of company chairman and putting MaryAnne Gilmartin, the firm’s current executive vice president of development and leasing, at the helm of the firm’s day-to-day operations, the source said.

“It’s been in the works for a significant amount of time… over the last year or so,” the source said.  “Everyone knows Bruce is a mentor to her (Ms. Gilmartin) and that she was being groomed for the role.”

“The stories are accurate,” he added, referring to the string of media reports that followed suit after an initial report published in Crain’s yesterday.

The decision begs the question of whether the man behind the Barclays Center and Metrotech Center in Brooklyn, and the 52-Story marvel and home to The New York Times at 620 Eighth Avenue, has simply had enough of the day-to-day squabbles that characterized the last decade of his tenure at the firm. Read More

Sales Beat

TIAA-CREF Pays $60M for 1511 Third Avenue

1511 Third Avenue

TIAA-CREF has purchased 1511 Third Avenue on the Upper East Side from Related Companies for $60 million, sources tell The Commercial Observer.

The 60,000-square-foot property is a four-story landmarked building, one block south of East 86th Street, the main retail artery in the neighborhood. Read More

Barclays Center: From Eminent Domain to Deron Williams

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets

“It was intended to be iconic,” MaryAnne Gilmartin said of the Barclays Center’s façade of undulating rusted steel just three months after the wildly controversial arena opened its doors.

But while the arena’s architecture aimed to lodge itself in the public consciousness, the Atlantic Yards development project, of which Barclays is the preening firstborn child, couldn’t have anticipated the discord it would ignite in the Brooklyn neighborhoods it promised to reactivate. Read More