By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Forest City Ratner Corp. yesterday wouldn’t comment on published reports that Bruce Ratner would step down as CEO of the huge development firm, although he would remain as chairman.
The Commercial Observer reported that “Mr. Ratner, 68, will step aside this winter, assuming the role of company chairman and putting MaryAnne Gilmartin, the firm’s executive vice president of development and leasing, at the helm of the firms’ day-to-day operations.”
However, the purported new CEO, Ms. Gilmartin, is well respected in the Brooklyn business and political communities.
She has often appeared at public hearings and meetings – for example, a meeting last year on Barclays Arena’s traffic plan, held at the 78th Precinct -- to articulate the firm’s position.
Carlo Scissura, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, told the Eagle, “I probably never met anyone as well-prepared and conversant and really at the top of her game as she is. She is very knowledgeable about the development and real estate worlds. I’m a fan.”
Ms. Gilmartin grew up in Rockaway and was educated in Fordham University. She participated in the city’s Urban Fellows Program and spent seven years at the Public Development Corporation, now the Economic Development Corporation.
In a sense, she now has the same role with Forest City Ratner as Irina Pavlova, a Russian-American executive, does with the Brooklyn Nets team itself.
In 2010, she published an op-ed in the New York Observer defending the still-controversial Atlantic Yards project. In part, it read, “From the beginning, Atlantic Yards has been about much more than building a basketball arena. It has been about jobs and housing and an historic community-benefits agreement that ensure that the project’s economic and social benefits help the folk who live here and need it most.”
And this year, when Forest City Ratner decided to build its first housing tower within Atlantic Yards using modular construction, it was Ms. Gilmartin who explained it to the media:
“We believe we’ve achieved a significant break through that will allow us to create world-class design and keep our commitment to union labor and deliver a significant amount of affordable housing,” she said.
At the time, she also alluded the long relationship between Forest City Ratner and the unions, said, “If it isn’t a union job, it isn’t a Ratner job.”
Forest City Ratner, which is allied with the Cleveland-based Forest City Companies, entered the Brooklyn real estate field in the late 1980s with Pierrepont Plaza in Brooklyn Heights. This was followed by MetroTech, and, of course, still later with Barclays Arena and the Atlantic Yards project.