Top 10 North American Real Estate Developers
Net worth: $15.2 billion*
Donald Bren, 84, is America’s wealthiest real estate developer. Born in Los Angeles, his father was a Hollywood producer and, on the side, a real estate investor. There, Bren was first exposed to the real estate business. In 1955, after graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in business administration and economics, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps for three years. He returned to California in 1958 and promptly founded the Bren Company, a builder in Orange County, an area covering popular destinations including Anaheim, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Irvine. In 1977, two decades after building his company, Bren and a group of investors purchased the Irvine Company, which owned the Irvine Ranch, a property that spanned 93,000 acres, accounting for 20 percent of Orange County. Bren slowly acquired more shares of that company until he became the sole owner in 1996. The California native is credited with master planning many of the Golden State’s communities, particularly the City of Irvine. Communities developed by Bren offer a balanced home where locals can live, work and play with ease. He is also a proud philanthropist, estimated to have given more than $1.3 billion. His achievements include donating more than 60 percent of the Irvine Ranch to be protected open space and parkland, and giving more than $200 million to schools and universities.
*All figures are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted and all net worth figures are reported by Forbes as of November 16, 2016
Donald Bren Chairman of Irvine Company, LLC
Andrew Beal, 64, is best known for founding the Beal Bank in Dallas in 1988. Before banking, though, he was a real estate investor. At 19, Beal bought a house in his hometown in Michigan and started leasing it for a monthly income. Beal became known for buying, repairing and then selling properties for a profit. In 1981, Beal and another investor partnered up to buy two dilapidated buildings in New Jersey for $25,000. Two years later, the flipped buildings were sold for $3.2 million. Through Beal Bank, the Michigan native continues to invest in real estate. During the financial crisis of 2008, the bank purchased commercial and real estate loans. In 2000, Beal Bank was named the most profitable American bank by American Banker, a distinguished financial newspaper. Beal is also a mathematician; in his youth he studied mathematics at the Michigan State University and he is self-taught in numbers theory mathematics. Beal has donated millions to education, in particular to the fields of science and engineering. He also sponsors two science fairs annually and previously gifted $1 million to Dallas’ Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Andrew Beal Founder and Chairman of Beal Bank
Stephen Ross Founder and Chairman of Related Companies
Born in Detroit, Stephen Ross, 76, is one of New York City’s most prominent developers. In the 1960s, Ross earned a business degree from the University of Michigan, a law degree from Michigan’s Wayne State University, and a Master of Laws in Taxation from New York University. Upon graduation, he practised law in Detroit and later moved to New York City to work on Wall Street as an investment banker. In 1972, the now- defunct Bears Stern fired Ross, which spurred him to found Related Companies. Ross utilized his tax knowledge to develop affordable housing, an area that allowed more tax breaks. As his reputation grew in the affordable housing sector, he started landing contracts for more luxury developments, including the Time Warner Center in Manhattan. Completed in 2004, the Twin Towers overlooking Central Park has won many awards for its mixed- use design and office space. Even though Ross stepped down as CEO in 2012, he remains involved with Related’s projects. One of the company’s high profile developments is Hudson Yards, a 28- acre plot in midtown Manhattan located less than 2 kilometres west of the Empire State Building. The project is America’s largest private real estate development and it will be the site of office buildings, residences, parks, retail stores and even a public school. As Ross’s wealth has grown, so has his generosity. He has donated more than $ 300 million to his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Ross also owns an NFL team, the Miami Dolphins.
Stanley Kroenke, 69, grew up in a small town in Missouri where his father owned a lumber company. He attended the University of Missouri, where he earned a degree in business in 1971 and an MBA in 1973. A year later, he married Anne Walton, who is the daughter of Walmart co-founder Bud Walton. They met while on vacation in Aspen. Kroenke’s rise to success is often associated with Walmarts’ expansion around the country. The job he took out of university was for a Missouri retail developer that built many strip malls anchored by Walmart. In 1983, he founded The Kroenke Group that primarily built shopping centers. Again, his company’s projects often featured Walmart stores. In 1991, he founded THF Realty with his thenpartner Michael Staenberg to build more shopping centers. They are now embroiled in multiple lawsuits. Aside from strip malls, Kroenke invests in sports stadiums. In fact, he founded Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, LLC in 1999 to own and operate sports entertainment facilities. The reclusive billionaire, also known as Silent Stan, is a sports enthusiast. He owns the L.A. Rams in the NFL, London’s premier soccer club Arsenal, the Denver Nuggets in the NBA, the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL, the Colorado Rapids in the MLS, and the Colorado Mammoth in the National Lacrosse League.
E. Stanley Kroenke Founder of The Kroenke Group and THF Realty