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Bay Area Power Women: 5 Questions With Forest City Realty Trust’s Kelly Pretzer

This limited series profiles Bay Area Power Women who have helped shape Bay Area cities, neighborhoods, businesses and lifestyles. These women will be honored at Bisnow's Bay Area Power Women event in San Francisco on May 30.

Forest City Realty Trust Development Director Kelly Pretzer joined the company in 2013 and has focused on all phases of the entitlement process at Pier 70. She previously worked at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office as deputy director of legislative and government affairs. She also was a project manager for the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, where she worked on various projects such as Treasure Island/Yerba Buena Island, Parkmerced, Octavia Boulevard/Central Freeway and the America’s Cup.

Forest City Realty Trust Development Director Kelly Pretzer

Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?

Pretzer: I get to take a super complex challenge, like how to get a great new neighborhood built in a largely vacant historic industrial district, and spend several years to figure it out. To do that, my job involves proficiency in design, marketing, finance, CEQA, strategy, community outreach, city legislative processes and everything in between. I get to do all that, which is why I love what I do.

Bisnow: What is the biggest business problem you have faced and how did you solve it? 

Pretzer: The entitlement of the Pier 70 project was an enormous challenge and milestone. We were successful by being creative in our approach to working closely with a wonderful neighboring community, collaborating with great partners at the Port [of San Francisco], hiring an excellent team of consultants and designers and drinking a whole lot of coffee.

Bisnow: What is one thing you think companies can do to address wage and gender inequality? 

Pretzer: One thing won’t create change. It requires a comprehensive set of ideals, policies and training, but having women in leadership positions serving as mentors is an important part of that process.  

Bisnow: What piece of advice do you give others entering the industry?

Pretzer: Development is the combination of seven or eight discrete skill sets, and no one comes to this industry as an expert in all of them right out of the gate. So, lead with your strengths, and come ready to learn and absorb, to gain proficiency in those underdeveloped skill sets. And don’t shy away from opportunities that interest you. Forest City saw that my unorthodox background in city government was actually an asset rather than something that might disqualify me from consideration. 

Bisnow: What do you do to unwind when you’re not working?  

Pretzer: I love to listen to podcasts — it’s a great way to make the commute go by more quickly and learn something while I’m at it. And, more coffee!

Meet Forest City Realty Trust Development Director Kelly Pretzer at Bisnow’s Power Women event in San Francisco May 30.