Extell’s former top marketing exec launches own firm

Anna Zarro will consult with Extell and Ceruzzi

From left: Central Park Tower at 225 West 57th Street,  Anna Zarro, and 147 East 86th Street (Credit: Curbed NY and Ceruzzi Properties)
From left: Central Park Tower at 225 West 57th Street,  Anna Zarro, and 147 East 86th Street (Credit: Curbed NY and Ceruzzi Properties)

Anna Zarro — who left her position as head of sales at Extell Development earlier this summer — is launching her own new development consulting business.

Running her own shop has been a longtime goal, she said, but it was one she put on hold when Gary Barnett’s Extell came knocking in 2016. Previously, she was senior vice president of marketing and leasing at Town Residential.

Zarro said she’s launching her as-yet-unnamed venture with two anchor clients: Extell, for whom she’ll help to oversee leasing for 1,000 rental units, and Ceruzzi Properties, where she will serve as an executive in residence and head of sales, marketing and communications. In that capacity, she will help launch 1289 Lexington — also known as 147 East 86th Street — Ceruzzi and Kuafu Properties’ 18-story condo tower. She will also help to launch 138 East 50th Street, a 71-story tower designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli. Both projects are set to begin sales in 2019.

At Extell, Zarro, who is 35, oversaw six projects, including the Kent and One Manhattan Square.

Her departure was seen by some as the latest executive to pass through a high-pressure environment.

But Zarro disputed that narrative.

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She called Barnett’s firm the “Ivy League” of developers, and said she believes Extell’s in-house marketing department is “teed up” to launch its forthcoming megaprojects, like Central Park Tower, which has a projected $4 billion sellout. But she conceded that the volume of units in Extell’s pipeline was part of the reason she decided to act now. “If I were doing it right, and doing right by Gary, I’d need to be there for 10 years.”

Zarro also said she’s hoping to capitalize on a softening condo market, where developers and brokers are often at odds over the best way to move units. Put bluntly: When sales slow and developers’ first line of defense is usually to fire the brokers and hire new ones. “It’s kind of throwing the baby out with the bath water,” Zarro said.

She envisions herself as an intermediary between developers and brokers to manage and set expectations.

Beyond Extell and Ceruzzi, Zarro said she’s taking on “select” clients. “I’m not racing onto the battlefield to fight for projects,” she said. Instead, she wants to ensure projects she takes on “make sense,” in that they do not directly compete with each other.

For that reason, she’ll be consulting on Extell’s rental projects only while she’s taking a lead on Ceruzzi’s condo developments. “You don’t want to find yourself in a conflict,” she said.

Extell, meanwhile, is searching for a new sales director.

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