Forest City Enterprises has grown from treeline to skyline. Founded in 1920 as a lumber dealer, the company now focuses on commercial and residential real estate development in metropolitan areas across the US. Forest City, which has more than $10.7 billion in assets, owns and develops commercial properties, including 44 retail centers and shopping malls, 47 office buildings, two hotels, and Brooklyn's Barclays Center in 15 states. The company's residential group owns and manages 115 upscale and middle-market apartments, condominiums, and senior housing properties, as well as more than 14,000 military housing units in over 20 states. Forest City converted into a real estate investment trust (REIT) in early 2015.
The firm's Commercial Group constructed and currently operates the 670,000-square-foot Barclays Center (home of the Brooklyn Nets and future home of the New York Islanders hockey team), a sports and entertainment venue in Brooklyn, New York. The arena opened in September 2012 and is reported as a separate operating segment, contributing 4% of fiscal 2013 (ended January) sales. Although it sold 80% of The Nets in 2010, Forest City still has an ownership interest in the basketball team through Net Sports and Entertainment, which also owns the Brooklyn arena.
Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises is active in 26 states and the District of Columbia. Although its portfolio is geographically diverse, it considers its core markets to be New York City, Philadelphia, Denver, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Washington, DC metropolitan area. The company makes selective acquisitions in urban markets such as Dallas, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Sales and Marketing
Major tenants in Forest City's commercial properties include AMC Entertainment, Bass Pro Shops, Regal Entertainment, TJX Companies, and The Gap.
The commercial and residential real estate firm's sales increased 4% in fiscal 2013 (ended January) versus the prior year, to about $1.1 billion. The opening of the Barclays Center in fall 2012, and increased revenue from its residential holdings spurred growth. Proceeds from land sales also contributed to revenue growth. (The 4% gain in revenue in 2013 ended a four-year slide.) Forest City Enterprises swung from a loss in fiscal 2012 to report net income of $36.4 million.
Forest City is mainly focused on its core portfolio of apartments, retail, and office properties. As a result, the company has sold much of its land holdings. Growing demand for rental properties has the company focused on that segment and it is looking to develop new multifamily projects in Washington, DC and Dallas, and Denver. In efforts to diversify itself, Forest City has created various partnerships with federal military entities to redevelop military family communities in Hawaii, Illinois, Washington, and Colorado. However, military housing remains a small portion of Forest City's overall business (some 4% in revenue).
As the commercial and residential real estate market suffered during the recession, Forest City took several steps to manage the challenges it faced during the economic downturn. Revenues and net income dipped during the recession. However, the company curtailed development and focused on maintaining its portfolio. It also worked to manage its debt and cut costs by reducing its workforce. Forest City also sold some properties in order to reverse losses. Forest City took advantage of stress in the market to make land acquisitions at favorable prices. Improving asset value also allowed the company to unlock value in the portfolio by making some sales.
The interrelated Ratner, Miller, and Shafran families own Forest City. The Ratner family and Forest City once held a majority stake in the New Jersey Nets basketball team. In 2010 they sold 80% of the team to billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, the richest man in Russia. The sale provided subsidiary Forest City Ratner with capital to begin the much-delayed, controversial Atlantic Yards mixed-use development in Brooklyn. The $5 billion project included a new arena for The Nets basketball team. As part of the deal Prokhorov also holds a 45% stake in the Barclays Center.