It’s not surprising that Lydia Tan would land a top multifamily real estate gig in Northern California.
Since graduating from U.C. Berkeley with an architecture degree, Tan has continuously built on her Bay Area market brawn—with an MBA from Stanford; as an associate with local development firm Tsen & Associates; and, finally, during a 19-year tenure with BRIDGE Housing, where her talents in developing affordable housing and creating successful public/private partnerships carried her to the position of EVP and, ultimately, interim president, following the departure of former CEO Carol Galante to HUD.
So it was a natural next step for Tan when, in February, she took an EVP post at Related Cos., opening the New York City–based real estate firm’s first Northern California office, in San Francisco. In her new role, she intends to leverage her public/private partnership acumen not just in affordable housing, but on the market-rate side, as well, to bring Related new development opportunities across the Bay Area.
“That’s what I like about Related—it’s an opportunistic and opportunity-driven organization, willing to look at all real estate opportunities in a market,” Tan says. “The firm has its feet solidly in both the market-rate and affordable camps, and there was a little bit of that at BRIDGE in our partnership with CalPERS to do workforce housing. I’ll be looking at all asset classes now.”
Transitioning from a regional affordable-market maven to a national multifamily powerhouse has been surprisingly seamless for Tan, with the primary difference—bench depth—decidedly on the positive side. “Both companies are fast-paced organizations with a similar way of looking at risk,” Tan says. “The difference is in the amount of resources Related has—just an incredible depth of expertise in high-rise luxury, in affordable, in urban retail centers—to draw from.”
Tan hopes to immediately connect Related with municipalities across the Bay Area and beyond that are looking to start building themselves out of the recession. “If you look at job growth and how quickly rents seem to be recovering both on the San Francisco peninsula and in Silicon Valley, it’s pretty exciting,” Tan says. “Things are starting to pencil out on the new development side. Yes, public resources are limited, but that means that even the smaller projects are going to make an impact. There are a lot of really great little downtowns all over Northern California where we can make a big difference.”