Emile Haddad, the real estate executive who spearheaded the conversion of an old airbase into housing, athletics and entertainment at Irvine’s Great Park Neighborhoods, is leaving his leadership role at the end of September.
Five Point Holdings announced late Monday, Aug. 23 that Haddad will transition Sept. 30 from day-to-day management of the company he founded to senior adviser. He will also remain on Five Point’s board of directors and serve as chairman emeritus.
Five Point’s new management team includes Stuart Miller, executive chairman of Five Point’s long-time partner and homebuilder Lennar; and Lynn Jochim, Five Point’s chief operating officer, who is being promoted to president. In addition to its Orange County development, Five Point also has real estate projects in Valencia and San Francisco.
“I simply could not be prouder to have led Five Point through its formative years, as it has become a true leader in community development and public-private partnerships,” Haddad said in a statement. “Five Point today has an extraordinary foundation for future success, with irreplaceable assets and a management team that is well-positioned to take Five Point to the next level.”
His real estate work is quite a contrast to his fleeing his native Lebanon amid a civil war to come to California in 1986.
He was working as chief investment officer for Lennar Homes in 2005 when the shuttered El Toro Marine base came up for auction. It was his job to make sure Lennar was the top bidder, no matter the cost.
Marian Bergeson, chair of the Foundation for the Great Park, gets help donning her hard hat before shoveling some ceremonial dirt in January 2012. FivePoint Communities’ CEO Emile Haddad watches. FivePoint Communities held a groundbreaking ceremony for the nearly 5,000 new homes and 1.2 million square feet of non-residential areas that will be developed in the Great Park neighborhoods of Irvine. (H. LORREN AU JR., THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER)
Great idea, poor timing
In 2008, Lehman Brothers – the company financing the Great Park development – collapsed as the economy melted down into the Great recession.
“People don’t realize … how close this (project) got to the abyss, and the effort that was needed to keep it together,” Haddad said years later.
California then eliminated redevelopment agencies in late 2010, a move that cost Haddad’s Great Park dream another financing source.
Haddad convinced the city to double the number of homes to be built, allowing Five Point to move forward with its housing development as well as be the Great Park’s developer.
A company statement said Haddad will “focus on enhancing our communities to stay true to the company’s vision and will maintain critical relationships at the state and local level, as well as focusing on new ventures and initiatives the Company may consider pursuing in order to enhance shareholder value.”
“Emile Haddad has been an innovator and leader in the national community development landscape,” Miller said in a statement. “He founded and grew Five Point from its inception to its current maturity. He has developed an exceptional management team that is prepared to continue to develop the extraordinary Five Point communities as a true credit to their surroundings while driving shareholder value.”
At the Great Park, Five Point — the master developer and a 37% owner of the project — has sold 6,970 home sites out of 10,500 planned. In 2021’s first seven months, builders have sold 516 homes. In Valencia, 110 homes have sold since sales launched in May. Builders have bought 1,268 lots out of 21,500 planned for the northern Los Angeles County development.
Five Point became a public traded company in May 2017, with Lennar its largest shareholder, controlling 39% of all shares.
Company shares have not fared well in the pandemic era. Since February 2020, the homebuilder has earned shareholders 7% returns vs. 80% for a key homebuilder stock index. Haddad as CEO earned $6 million in 2020, including a $5 million bonus.