BRP’s Meredith Marshall: “We get the story wrong in New York”

Major housing developer discusses issues facing NYC development on the latest episode of Coffee Talk

Developers often get a bad rap in New York City, with politicians eschewing donations, resident groups resisting gentrification and City Council members even proposing that nonprofits get first dibs on city-owned land slated for affordable housing. “Maybe that works politically, but I don’t see how that works,” said Meredith Marshall of the last proposal.

In the latest episode of Coffee Talk, Marshall, who co-founded major developer BRP Companies in 1992 with partner Geoff Flournoy, sat with TRD associate publisher Hiten Samtani. Discussing the current political climes, Marshall noted that while city politicians may have good intentions, they don’t always understand the complex economics of real estate. “We need to build more workforce housing for the typical New York City worker,” he said. “We can’t all do it with HPD and city subsidy, because we just don’t have enough money.”

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With 3.1 million square feet under development and 10 projects in the pipeline, clearly BRP has been able to navigate the waters of city government well. Indeed, the firm has moved fast up TRD’s list of top developers. It placed third this year, behind only investment giants Brookfield and Related.

But for Marshall, whose projects are often complex public-private partnerships, a city budget shortfall and increasingly hostile public attitudes might appear more of a threat than they would to the 800-pound gorillas. Marshall did note that the second phase of BRP’s La Central project in the Bronx has been delayed by that budget crunch, though he still expects the deal to close by the end of the year. Still, demand is high and homes in New York are hard to find. “When you have stay-at-home orders,” he said, “you have to have a home to stay in.”

Listen in on Marshall’s conversation with Samtani for more insights into the market, the affordable housing capital stack, and whether or not real estate could become more comprehensible for the common man.