Melissa Román Burch

Melissa Román Burch


Melissa Román Burch

Executive General Manager at Lendlease

Melissa Román Burch
By May 17, 2021 9:00 AM

E.B. White once wrote that Manhattan “is to the nation what the white church spire is to the village—the visible symbol of aspiration and faith, the white plume saying that the way is up.”

And, despite a global pandemic, some developers behind New York’s defiant skyline just kept building, underscoring their unfaltering belief in the city’s future.

“There have been highs and lows this past year, but it’s also been the year of silver linings,” Melissa Román Burch said. “There have been a number of real professional high points, which were not only pandemic-defining, but also career-defining moments.”

In the depths of COVID, when most were struggling to find their feet, Burch and her team were busy closing a $250 million construction loan for 100 Claremont Avenue, Lendlease and L+M Development Partners’ mixed-use project in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights.

“We simultaneously closed on the debt and equity for the transaction, the purchase of 300,000 square feet of air rights over the Union Theological Seminary, and the project’s launch into construction,” Burch said.

And, when other developers were pulling back, the firm leaned into that conviction to purchase 1 Java Street, a full city-block development site on Brooklyn’s Greenpoint waterfront, in October.

As a global organization, Lendlease’s certitude in part comes from a belief in “the enduring qualities of cities through many different crises,” Burch said. “We believe the same cultural, entertainment, educational and human connections that have drawn people to New York pre-COVID will still be in place coming out of COVID.”

Outside of New York, Lendlease teamed with Aware Super to acquire a 500,000-square-foot development site at 3401 South La Cienega Boulevard in L.A. in January — its first L.A. project. Then, in March, it teamed with Ivanhoé Cambridge to acquire and develop a 1.15-acre, state-of-the-art, life sciences building at 60 Guest Street in Boston.

Another major focus for Burch is sustainability and climate resiliency, with Lendlease’s recent acquisitions all advancing its agenda around decarbonization. Lendlease’s U.S. multifamily portfolio is already net-zero carbon, way ahead of its 2025 deadline. It’s targeting absolute zero by 2040.

“I feel like I’m standing on the experience of not just Lendlease in New York, which is formidable, but Lendlease globally, which feels that much more powerful,” Burch said. “And the COVID period has enabled the feeling that those connections are really seamless.”—C.C.

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