The Real Deal New York

Clarett shutters NY office, future in doubt

March 10, 2011 05:53PM
By C. J. Hughes

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From left: Veronica Hackett, a rendering of Collection at Court Street at 340 Court Street in Carroll Gardens, the Brooklyner and 200 West End Avenue

The Clarett Group, a New York residential and office building developer, has shut down its New York office, leaving one local project in limbo and the company’s future in doubt. And it comes as founder Veronica Hackett has decamped for a developer of commercial space, Brookfield Office Properties.

In January, following the gradual departure of staff over the past few months, the handful of remaining employees at Clarett’s Madison Square Park office were let go or quit, according to former employees. In 2007, that office had several dozen employees, the sources said.

Days later, on Feb. 7 Hackett, became head of U.S. development for Brookfield, the international landlord that owns the World Financial Center in the Financial District.

An inability to line up financing for new projects forced the layoffs, according to the sources, who added that the fate of the seven-story Brooklyn condo, Collection at Court Street, at 340 Court Street in Carroll Gardens, is now unclear, despite the fact that its foundation is poured. A number for its sales office is out of service.

Jonathan Marvel, of Rogers Marvel Architects, the architect for Collection at Court Street, said he could not comment on the news of Clarett’s closing, or the project in general, but that the project was in “transition” and details would be coming soon.

Some who were interviewed said they bore no grudge against Hackett, who has almost three decades of real estate experience, as banks made it virtually impossible to line up funding for new projects.

But others familiar with the sequence of events, who characterized Hackett’s exit as abrupt, said she appeared to have landed a new job and then left the company.

Clarett’s other two offices, in Washington and Los Angeles, where the company has projects in the works, will stay open but rename themselves, according to sources, though calls for comments to both of them were unsuccessful.

For her part, Hackett was traveling and unavailable for a comment, according to Matt Cherry, a Brookfield spokesperson, and a call to Clarett’s Manhattan office at 79 Madison Avenue near the corner of 29th Street went unreturned.

Prudential Real Estate Investors, which had partnered with Clarett on deals, also did not return a message by press time.

Clarett, which was founded in 2000, takes its name from a combination of “Hackett” and the last name of co-founder Neil Klarfeld, who is deceased. The company, whose brand was “synonymous with uncompromising quality,” according to its website, developed a number of high-rises in Manhattan and Brooklyn in the past decade. All told, it built, sold or leased 2.1 million square feet, according to its website.

Among its new construction projects was the Brooklyner, Brooklyn’s tallest building, which has 51 stories and 490 units and is located at 111 Lawrence Street. For the deal, Clarett partnered with Equity Residential, which is solely responsible for leasing today.

Other Clarett condos include 200 West End, at 79th Street; 2770 Broadway, at 107th Street; and Sky House, at 11 East 29th Street and designed by FxFowle.

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