Publisher’s note

Last month, The Real Deal broke the sad news that the 214-agent firm Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy is planning to close shop. As the real estate community mourns the loss of yet another firm — this one the largest to topple to date and run by the esteemed Joanne Kennedy, a fixture on the real estate scene — it’s a good time to take stock of where we are.

It’s the beginning of the summer season, a time when many of us would normally be making our way out to the Hamptons, the Jersey Shore or upstate New York to leisurely spend the weekends.

But this year is different.

Not only are the real estate markets in those vacation destinations struggling, it doesn’t quite feel like the appropriate time to be curling up with a book on the beach or mindlessly dawdling in the vegetable garden. Rather, the summer of 2009 may just be the summer to fight on and figure out how to work with the hand the market has dealt us.

That’s exactly what William “Billy” Macklowe seems to be doing. This month marks the one-year anniversary of the date when he officially took over Macklowe Properties from his legendary father, Harry. That’s why we bring you a profile of how his first year on the job has been.

While some may be wondering exactly what he is the CEO of now that the company is in sell-off mode, one thing is certain: He’s hustling to put out the fires that his father (and the market) set. See the story on page 30.

In this issue, The Real Deal also brings you a ranking of the top new development marketing firms. While new condos are clearly one of the hardest-hit sectors of the market, there are still firms out there doing everything in their power to sell the remaining inventory. (We all know that their jobs have gotten a lot harder since the downturn started.) Not surprisingly, the Corcoran Group and Prudential Douglas Elliman came in first and second, respectively. But the real success story seems to be Halstead Marketing. Look at the story on page 34 to see why, and to see which other firms made our list.

As a side note, we would also like to acknowledge a couple of complaints from those who felt that they were unfairly left off our “top agents” list in last month’s issue. We stand by our methodology, which relied on OLR listing data. But because of the overwhelming amount of information we were sifting through, we were only able to credit the first agent cited for each listing — even when a larger team of brokers was in place. As a result, some high-profile brokers, like Elliman’s Leonard Steinberg and Sotheby’s Meredyth Smith, were not included.

Meanwhile, in this issue we bring you a list that nobody will be complaining about not making — a catalog of so-called ghost towers. Until now these ghost towers — or largely empty buildings that stand as fossils of the overzealous building boom — have been more common in places like South Florida and Las Vegas. They have not been an issue here. But that might be changing. Our research identifies 23 residential condo and rental projects in New York that are most at risk of remaining empty for years to come. See the list we’ve put together on page 57.

On a more personal note, I want to express my sadness over the death of veteran Corcoran broker Mitchell Lawrence, who was a senior managing director at the firm’s 12th Street office. He will be greatly missed.

Also, I would like to congratulate The Real Deal’s editor, Stuart Elliott, who married fellow journalist Julie Satow late last month in a wonderful New York City wedding at the Plaza. We’ll make an exception for them as they spend the beginning of this month enjoying their honeymoon by the beach.

And I can’t sign off without thanking you for all of your feedback on our new and improved Web site, which we launched last month. For those of you who haven’t yet weighed in on what you think of it, please take the time to fill out the survey on page 50. And be on the lookout for the additional new features to come.

Finally, in the last couple of months, the number of you who are following our Tweets on Twitter (a tongue twister, I know) has increased six-fold. It’s a great way to get real-time updates on all of the real estate events we attend. So check it out at www.twitter.com/trdny and also become a fan of The Real Deal on Facebook.