Shopping Centers Today

DEC 2018

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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88 S C T / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 E X E C U T I V E M OV E R S A N D S H A K E R S N E W S M A K E R S O ne quality that seems to get attributed to Rod Blake fre- quently is congeniality. Indeed, this native of Pontiac, Mich., who became vice president of develop- ment at Starwood Retail Partners in September, enjoys a reputation as something of a statesman going back to early life in his home state. "He's almost like a politician," said Stephen J. Kieras, who was Blake's manager years ago at Michigan-based Taubman Centers. "If he wasn't in real estate, he could have been the mayor of Pontiac." As it happens, Blake did in fact launch his career from politics, if somewhat obliquely. As a high school student, he was a youth representative on the Pontiac City Council, and be- fore leaving to study political science at Yale, he promised then-Mayor Wal- lace Holland that he would return. In 1990, a few months before Blake had even graduated, the mayor oŠered him a position as chief assistant to the director of public works, which Blake accepted. "I thought I'd only work there for a year or two, but I ended up spending seven years in government," he said. "I had the opportunity to take on some really big responsibilities at an early age." Blake's real estate career has includ- ed senior development positions not only at Taubman, but also at GGP (now BrookŽeld Properties Retail Group) and Olympia Development. During his 30 years in the business, Blake has negotiated some tough real estate deals — including the $2 billion Little Caesars Arena, in ™e District Detroit — and he is admired for his ability to broker trust between local residents and government ošcials on projects. "What really makes Rod unique is his people skills," said Kieras, who re- tired from the industry in March 2017 as Taubman's executive vice president of development. "He's relationship-fo- cused — everyone loves Rod." Blake's responsibilities while work- ing for the city of Pontiac included land acquisitions for right-of-way projects. He helped negotiate a land swap with Taubman Centers, which at the time was building the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, in neighbor- ing Auburn Hills. He evidently made no small impression on Taubman executives, because in 1997 they oŠered him a job as an assistant to then–Vice Chairman Robert Larson (also then-chairman of Taubman Retail ambassador Rod Blake's diplomatic skills are no less valued than his talent for development By Rebecca Meiser ROD BLAKE

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