Changing of the Guard, Real Estate Style

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T he turnover of leadership at New York’s venerable real estate organizations has been staggering. Since September, Stephen Ross of Related Companies, Michael Fascitelli of Vornado Realty Trust, Mort Zuckerman of Boston Properties, Larry Silverstein of Silverstein Properties and Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner have all announced their resignations from their current roles.

While all will stay involved with their respective companies in one form or another, the changing of the guard in New York real estate has been in full swing.

Below, The Commercial Observer highlights each of these men—and their replacements—along with the one that started the recent trend, Douglas Durst. Read More

The Lobby

Larry Silverstein is Latest High-Profile CEO to Step Down

Larry Silverstein

Larry Silverstein, the affable face of Silverstein Properties and the man behind the redevelopment of the World Trade Center, is stepping down as CEO – the latest of a string of high-profile real estate CEOs to step down this year.

The co-chief executive at the firm, Mr. Silvertein’s heir apparent, Marty Burger, who joined in 2010 as executive vice president after 15 years with Related Companies, will succeed Mr. Silverstein, The Wall Street Journal reported.  Mr. Silverstein will stay on as chairman.

“Marty is a terrific young guy, and his function is really going to be to grow the company,” the 81-year-old real estate icon, Mr. Silverstein, told the Journal. Read More


Owen Thomas to Replace Mort Zuckerman as Boston Properties CEO

Mort Zuckerman

Owen Thomas will succeed Mortimer Zuckerman as chief executive of real estate investment trust Boston Properties on April 2, it was announced today. Mr. Thomas will also join the firm’s board of directors, while Mr. Zuckerman will remain in his role as executive chairman.

Mr. Thomas is a 25-year real estate industry veteran and has been serving as chairman  of Lehman Brothers Holdings since March 2012. Mr. Thomas has presided over a number of transactions while with Lehman, including the $15 billion sale of Archstone Enterprise LP to Equity Residential and AvalonBay Communities. Prior to Lehman Brothers Holdings, Mr. Thomas served in a number of roles during a 20-year career at Morgan Stanley, including head of real estate and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley Asia Ltd. Read More


Observer Media’s Masters of Real Estate, Minute by Minute by Minute

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More than 300 real estate professionals crowded the Metropolitan Club early Thursday morning, despite snow-covered sidewalks, for the Observer Media Group’s third annual Masters of Real Estate forum.

Sponsored by Fried Frank and Marks Paneth & Shron, the event drew boldface names like Larry Silverstein and Mortimer Zuckerman, who spoke about the devastation wrought by Sandy, not to mention financiers like Angelo Gordon & Co.’s Adam Schwartz and Rockpoint Group’s Keith Gelb, who weighed in on opportunistic investments.

Below, reporter Al Barbarino walks the room and listens in on the panels, striving to put his finger on the commercial real estate industry’s pulse, minute by minute. Read More

Shameless Promotions

Masters of Real Estate Event Breaks Record

Jared Kushner.

Featuring an all-star line up of the city’s most formidable real estate professionals, this year’s annual Masters of Real Estate fetched a record 450 RSVPs, The Commercial Observer has learned.

Observer Media Group executives began preparing for the event, now in its third year, six months in advance with an eye toward creating an eclectic mix of speakers. Larry Silverstein of Silverstein Properties, Michael Fascitelli of Vornado, William Rudin of Rudin Management, Jeff Blau of Related Companies and Glenn Rufrano of Cushman & Wakefield are all scheduled to appear. Rob Speyer of Tishman Speyer bowed out.

Jared Kushner, the owner of The Commercial Observer and president of Kushner Companies, will lead the event with remarks. Read More

Power Broker

Brooklyn Buzz: From Spike Lee to Etsy, C&W’s Glenn Markman Has BK Down

Glenn Markman.

Glenn Markman first began to pay attention to Brooklyn long before there was a Barclays Center to crystallize the borough’s rise.

Like so many success stories in real estate, buying in early was key.

Having done deals in Brooklyn for 20 years, Mr. Markman by now is known as an expert in office leasing in the borough, though he is also prolific in Manhattan. From his résumé, there’s no mistaking his prominence as a Brooklyn dealmaker.

In 2008, he represented Spike Lee in finding a Dumbo office for the film director’s advertising company, Spike DDB.

Earlier this year, when the Brooklyn Nets decided to relocate the team’s executive offices from New Jersey to be closer to the new Barclays arena, Mr. Markman, who is a leasing executive at Cushman & Wakefield, led a C&W team that brought the Nets into 35,000 square feet at 15 MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn. Read More

The Sit-Down

Larry Silverstein’s Got 99 Problems, But Jay-Z Ain’t One

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Hip hop impresario Jay-Z kicked off the opening of Forest City Ratner’s Barclays Center with a series of eight sold-out concerts last week. And while thousands of rap and pop music fans descended on Brooklyn to welcome Hova back to his native borough, more surprising, perhaps, were the boldface real estate titans who lined up as guests of Bruce Ratner to witness the spectacle. Besides Dan Tishman of Tishman Construction and Vornado Realty Trust’s Michael Fascitelli and Steven Roth, Mary Ann Tighe of CBRE described the evening as electric. “The only Jay-Z song I recognized is his New York song, which he performed early in the show,” wrote Ms. Tighe, who added in an email to The Commercial Observer that she also enjoyed the arena’s menu of Brooklyn-based restaurants. “Best arena/stadium food ever,” she wrote.

Perhaps the one attendee who was most impressed with the Barclays Center and its booming sound system, however, was Larry Silverstein, the iconic developer behind the ongoing redevelopment of the World Trade Center. Mr. Silverstein revealed his first impressions of the Barclays Center with The Commercial Observer and shared his opinions on Jay-Z and the venue’s body-shaking bass system.

The Commercial Observer: So a tipster told us they saw you at the Jay-Z show last Friday.
Mr. Silverstein: We attended the concert Friday night, and it was a transformational experience. Read More

Power Broker

Can Larry Silverstein’s Heir Apparent, Marty Burger, Rise to the Occasion?

Marty Burger

During a ski trip to Colorado several months ago, Michael May, an executive at Cantor Fitzgerald, remembers his eagerness to hit the slopes. He rose at the crack of dawn and found his friend Marty Burger, who had organized the trip, waiting in the lodge with the same idea in mind.

Traveling with a large group of executives, they skied all day. Mr. May remembers being exhausted, but Mr. Burger convinced him to join him and few others for some indoor tennis back at the hotel. A couple of games, at Mr. Burger’s urging, turned into a couple of sets. Read More