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Blackstone names new president, COO; SmartCentres CEO to resign

This feature presents a weekly rundown of recent significant management and board changes and personnel moves in the North American real estate industry, including U.S. real estate investment trusts and real estate operating companies, homebuilders and gaming operators.

C-suite changes

* Blackstone Group LP's global head of real estate Jonathan Gray was named the new president and chief operating officer of the investment firm, replacing Tony James, who will assume the title of executive vice chairman. Ken Caplan, senior managing director and global chief investment officer, and Kathleen McCarthy, global COO and senior managing director, will take over for Gray as global co-heads of real estate.

* Retail Properties of America Inc., a shopping center-focused REIT, promoted senior vice president and chief accounting officer Julie Swinehart to executive vice president, CFO and treasurer.

* Office REIT TIER REIT Inc. tapped Dallas Lucas to serve as its president and COO, James Sharp as its CFO and treasurer, and Hannah Wrenn as its chief accounting officer, effective Feb. 15.

* CEO of shopping-center REIT SmartCentres REIT J. Huw Thomas will resign in June, to be succeeded by President and COO Peter Forde. Thomas will continue as a member of the board of trustees, while Mitchell Goldhar, a nonexecutive chairman, will become executive chairman.

* COO of retail REIT Partners Real Estate Investment Trust Paul Harrs resigned.

* Real estate services firm RE/MAX Holdings Inc. announced the retirement of RE/MAX President Geoff Lewis. RE/MAX co-CEO Adam Contos will take over for Lewis, who will remain as a senior adviser with the company until June 30.

Board shuffle

* Regional mall REIT Simon Property Group Inc. added Marta Stewart, former executive vice president and CFO at Norfolk Southern Corp., to its board, effective Feb. 12.

* Hotel REIT RLJ Lodging Trust added Robert McCarthy, former Marriott International Inc. COO and group president of the Americas, to its board, expanding it to nine members, effective immediately.

* Diversified REIT Cominar Real Estate Investment Trust named Alban D'Amours chairman of the board of trustees, replace Michel Dallaire, who resigned Feb. 12.

* Regional mall-focused Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust added JoAnne Epps, executive vice president and provost of Temple University, to its board of trustees, effective immediately.

* Real estate development company ROI Land Investments Ltd. added its CFO Yuhi Horiguchi to its board, replacing Sebastien Cliche, who resigned in early January.

* Real estate development company Cherubim Interests Inc. added Frank Ekejija, chairman and CEO of private equity investor NVC Fund Trust, and Elder James, managing member for R.A. Management Group LLC, to its board.

* Chaim Katzman resigned as vice chairman of the board of shopping-center real estate investment trust Regency Centers Corp. due to his new position as CEO of Gazit-Globe Ltd., and other commitments.

* Diversified REIT GTJ REIT Inc.'s director and former president of insurance financial services Joseph Barone died Feb. 6.

Other news

* CBL Properties, a regional mall-focused REIT, appointed Mike Harrison executive vice president of operations and Alan Lebovitz executive vice president of management, and promoted Dan Wolfe to vice president of mall management, suceeding Don Sewell, who was promoted to senior vice president of management.

* Real estate services company Realogy Holdings Corp. appointed Sue Yannaccone, most recently president and CEO of ERA Franchise Systems, as regional executive vice president of brokerage operations brand NRT, and promoted Simon Chen, ERA's COO, to succeed Yannaccone, effective March 5. Meanwhile, Fred Schmidt, who served as president and CFO of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates, will retire June 1.

* Retail REIT Federal Realty Investment Trust promoted vice president and chief accounting officer Melissa Solis to senior vice president and chief accounting officer; Christian Fleming to vice president for asset management; and Patrick McMahon to vice president for development.

* Homebuilding producer Beazer Homes USA Inc. hired Jay Thrower as area president for Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

* Office REIT Kilroy Realty Corp. chose Matthew Griffin to replace Tracy Murphy as its new senior vice president for northern California, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported.