In the strongest sign yet that 80-year-old Silverstein Properties chief executive Larry Silverstein is seriously considering a succession plan, a former president of Artisan Real Estate Ventures has been tapped as the World Trade Center owner’s co-chief executive, it was announced last week.
Martin Burger, who previously served as president and chief executive of Artisan Real Estate Ventures before joining Silverstein Properties in 2010, will now spearhead new ventures in China, Eastern Europe and Florida, where most recently he led an effort to secure financing for the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.
Mr. Silverstein, meanwhile, will continue to oversee the historic redevelopment of the World Trade Center along with World Trade Center Properties president Janno Lieber. Mr. Lieber manages all aspects of the effort to rebuild at the World Trade Center site.
During an interview with The Commercial Observer last week, Mr. Burger acknowledged that Mr. Silverstein has been actively discussing a succession plan since at least 2009, although when pressed the new co-CEO claimed no retirement timeline had been set.
“Larry had thought about a succession plan for some time now, so when I was talking to them two years ago Larry had already made the decision,” said Mr. Burger.
“I don’t think Larry’s ever going to retire,” added Mr. Burger. “He’s a force of nature.”
Mr. Silverstein, who founded Silverstein Properties, praised Mr. Burger in a prepared statement last week, but conspicuously avoided talk of outright succession or retirement.
“I am thrilled that Marty will lead our continued effort to finance new development projects, acquire new properties and form new joint ventures around the globe,” said Mr. Silverstein in a statement issued last week.
“Over the past two years, Marty has worked closely with our entire management team to expand our business at home and overseas. Thanks in large part to his efforts we now have projects underway in Florida, Eastern Europe and China. This is a very exciting time for our company and for me personally.”
Mickey Kupperman, the chief operating officer at Silverstein Properties who has been leading a reorganization of the company and helped expand it from 120 employees in 2006 to 230 employees today, also seconded Mr. Silverstein’s vote of confidence.
“Marty is one of the smartest, most creative and personable guys I know,” said Mr. Kupperman.
“He has a large network of contacts in the industry and many of those people consider him a friend. He’s a great fit with the culture of the Silverstein organization.”