NYC’s Former Head Of Housing Starts New Development Firm
The former New York deputy mayor for housing and economic development is taking on the real estate world beyond New York.
Alicia Glen, who is also a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, has launched the real estate development and investment firm MSquared, which aims to invest and develop housing for a variety of income levels.
After spending her over 20-year career in New York City, she plans to venture outside the bounds of the Big Apple, with her eyes set on midsized cities where economic growth has outpaced affordable housing, Glen said in an interview with Bisnow on Friday.
“For right now, I feel the need to do work outside of New York,” she said. “Maybe it’s because I spent my whole life in New York, I am going to have to take a little road trip.”
The company will work at the juncture of the private and public sectors in order to create mixed-use spaces that Glen believes will help kick-start economies and build up the middle class in these communities. While MSquared hasn't identified a list of target markets, cities like Charlotte, Nashville and Austin fit the model it has identified.
“One of the things the pandemic has taught us is how interdependent we all are on the various sectors of the economy,” she said. “A city is not a city if you don’t have teachers, nurses, restaurateurs, and that doesn’t happen anymore without a deliberate intervention.”
The projects that MSquared plans to invest in and develop will include market-rate housing, low-income affordable housing and housing for those that fall in between the two, the company said in its launch announcement.
Through investing and developing mixed-use space, the company will also meet a new need to live and work closely together without reliance on mass transit, a necessity that has arisen amid the pandemic, Glen said.
MSquared is now part of the 14% of real estate companies led by women nationally. Carolee Fink, Glen’s former chief of staff, will also be a principal.
“I’d be silly not to mention this is a feminist issue as well,” she said. “Who is making decisions? How do we look at cities? How do we look at investments?”
Glen served as deputy mayor for five years under Mayor Bill de Blasio, helming the administration’s affordable housing initiative, as well as plans for Sunnyside Yards and Governor’s Island, before leaving the post in March 2019.
Last week, she critiqued her former boss’s decision to ax $2.3B of capital funds from the city’s budget amid the pandemic.
“If we had a housing crisis before this, we’re going to continue to have an incredible housing crisis after this,” she told Bisnow. “It is just sort of saying, ‘We don’t care about you.’”
Glen said her interest in markets other than New York is not based on how she feels about the city’s future but rather where the most dire need is for the type of housing stock the firm plans to produce.