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Brookfield Property Chairman Ric Clark Launching New Real Estate Firm

New York
Ric Clark founded WatermanClark in late 2020 and has invested in LEX.

Brookfield’s Ric Clark, who stepped back from his role at the real estate behemoth earlier this year, is co-founding a new investment firm in New York City.

Clark is joining forces with Waterman Interests’ Philip “Tod” Waterman, Bloomberg reports. The new entity will be called WatermanClark and take over employment of all the current Waterman staff and continue the oversight of properties that Waterman Interests owns or runs.

Clark will stay on the board of various Brookfield real estate entities and continue serving as a senior adviser at the Canadian investment firm, he told Bisnow when reached by phone Tuesday evening.

“I will be there if they need me, but I look forward to doing some investing on my own,” he said. "I’ve been through so many crises, and I think when people are confused, it’s a good time to invest."

WatermanClark will focus on office and retail assets in its hometown, which has been one of the hardest hit economically as a result of the pandemic.

“Ric and I have collaborated on real estate investments and civic projects for more than three decades and we are thrilled that timing and circumstances have come together to allow for this partnership to happen,” Waterman told his staff in a memo, according to Bloomberg.

The new venture will also aim to expand the business, and Waterman said in the memo that he and Clark “anticipate significant opportunities in gateway cities nationwide,” adding the pair have already found “emerging opportunities” despite the health and economic crisis.

Clark sold more than $3.4M worth of shares of Brookfield Property REIT last week — shares he bought in March, when shutdowns were rolling in across the U.S. and the REITs stock value had cratered — according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Brookfield announced Clark was stepping back from Brookfield in February after decades of helping build the firm into New York City’s biggest office landlord.

At the time, Brookfield said that while Clark is pulling back from his current responsibilities, he will stay on as chairman of Brookfield Asset Management's real estate subsidiaries — Brookfield Property Group, Brookfield Property Partners and Brookfield Property REIT — and that he would remain a senior adviser for the company.

A spokesperson for Brookfield confirmed Clark remains a nonexecutive chairman of Brookfield Property Partners and Brookfield Property REIT and that this new venture is wholly independent from Brookfield.

"My focus with Tod initially is locally," Clark said. "Those who bet against New York at times like these lose, those that bet for New York will come out ahead. There is some work to be done, but I don’t think New York is going anywhere.”

Waterman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Waterman Interests' assets include 400 Park Ave. and 125 West 55th St. and Lever House at 390 Park Ave., which it has owned through a long-term leasehold in a joint venture with Brookfield since 2018. The partnership and RFR Realty had been in a legal dispute over ground rent and control of the building.  However, that dispute which was discontinued with prejudice earlier this year and cannot be refiled, The Real Deal reported. Waterman and Brookfield took over the building from RFR in May. 

UPDATE, NOV. 17, 5:20 P.M. ETThis story has been updated with comments from Clark.

UPDATE, Nov. 18, 11 A.M. ET: This story has been updated to reflect disputes between the Brookfield and Waterman Interests and RFR Realty have been discontinued.