MaryAnne Gilmartin, Forest City Ratner Companies

2013 Owners MagazineFavorite charity? 

Brooklyn Academy of Music and my children’s school.

Real estate prediction for 2014? 

That the world’s tallest modular building opens in Brooklyn.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? 

As Vishaan Chakrabarti explained in his recent book, A Country of Cities, we need to look to develop high density on and near significant transit hubs, much as we are doing in Brooklyn at Atlantic Yards. The city is in a state of flux, as it always is, and we should be focused on areas outside of Manhattan that will allow for substantial mixed use and terrific place-making.

Who will become New York City’s next mayor?  

Not sure, but I will vote in the election since my family and I moved back to Brooklyn this summer.

What real estate policy should New York’s next mayor make a priority?   

As an industry and city, we need to rethink affordable housing initiatives to increase housing for low-income New Yorkers and working families. Ideally, we can also look to develop buildings that are economically diverse rather than segregating out people based on income. The focus also needs to be on unit sizes for families in need of affordable housing. Another important policy is to promote the growth and prosperity of high-tech companies outside of Manhattan, specifically in Brooklyn and Roosevelt Island.

What qualities do you look for in an agent representing your buildings? 

I look for intelligence and creativity and a sense of joy in the building. I also look for someone who understands the DNA of our company.

What is one aspect of your business you wish you had more time for? 

I’d like to spend more time with the construction teams during the actual build. Since I am a brick-and-mortar gal, I love the construction phase of a project and watching a building being built.

Greatest fear: 

Missing my son’s basketball game. I am hoping that this fear has been conquered with my move to Brooklyn.

If approved, the Midtown East rezoning initiative will: 

Help New York stay competitive as a world-class city.

In the film version of your life, which actor would portray you? 

I honestly don’t know, but I have been told by some of my colleagues that Jessica Chastain would do a great job.

Foreign real estate market you’d most like to invest in: 

Brazil. It is an emerging and exciting country with a strong and diverse culture. It really is the place to be.

Is broadband connectivity in New York City a priority at your buildings? 

Yes, we constantly look to upgrade our Wi-Fi capabilities and have even worked to make the MetroTech Center Commons a free Wi-Fi-accessible area. And with B2, our modular building in Brooklyn, the building will be completely wired.

What should happen with Madison Square Garden and Penn Station? 

Penn Station is an incredibly important area in the city. It ought to be a modern, iconic, transportation-oriented development. Given its location, it should be one of the great areas of the city.

What New York City building should be torn down? 

There isn’t one particular building I would tear down. I think we should always use caution before taking down a building, given that it may have great historical or architectural value or contribute to a greater sense of place. I am supportive of creating new housing and commercial buildings as with Midtown East, but I think we need to do so in a way that embraces the past and the culture of our streetscapes.

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