James Lester is EVP of Development for Live Nation. In this role James is responsible for managing all components of large, international venue developments, from start to finish, as well as coordinating with local market leaders, in house design teams and other key stakeholders. James’s current projects span the globe from South America, to Canada, the UK and several other European countries.
James has nearly twenty-five years of experience in large, public-private real estate developments, having developed and acquired nearly every product type including arenas, market rate and affordable housing, office, and mixed-use entertainment based retail.
Prior to joining Live Nation, James was COO of Bolivar Development, responsible for overseeing all development activities, including twelve active projects and numerous prospects. Bolivar is a private real estate development and construction company that has built nearly 12,000 units of housing and over 400,000 SF of retail and education space in more than 100 buildings in New York City.
James also founded Pioneering Group Development, LLC (“PGD”), a New York-based real estate development and advisory company where he acquired and rehabilitated properties in New York, Colorado, and California.
Before founding PGD, Jim served as Executive Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Development at Forest City Ratner Companies. At Forest City, Jim was tapped by Bruce Ratner, Executive Chairman, to lead the development of the most high-profile project in the company’s portfolio, Barclays Center, the sports and entertainment arena that would become the home of the Brooklyn Nets and the cornerstone of the $4.9 billion, 22-acre mixed-use Pacific Park Brooklyn development. Jim and his team simultaneously managed the design, City, State, MTA, and neighborhood approval processes, environmental reviews, infrastructure design and construction (including a new MTA transit hub and reconstruction of an LIRR yard), an over one billion dollar construction budget, operating income and expense forecasting, and a uniquely complex web of public/private financing in order to transform a collection of miscellaneous residential and commercial parcels into the most state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue in the United States.
In his 17 years at Forest City Ratner, Jim also worked on the purchase, oversight, and sale of the Nets Basketball franchise, built the 2,000 person arena operating company, led negotiations with Nassau County to acquire the right to redevelop the Nassau Coliseum and surrounding 77 acres, in addition to developing various residential, commercial and mixed-use projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Jim grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, a city whose faded economic vibrancy sparked an early interest in the power of real estate development to drive, or derail, the growth of the social, economic, and cultural life of a city. This interest has only deepened over his more than 20-year career, during which he has encountered many unseen pockets of opportunity for development in neighborhoods with varied economic profiles.
He has served as a member of the board of directors of the Long Island Association, Inc. and Full Stack Modular, a modular construction company based in Brooklyn, NY.
Jim began his real estate career at Austin Lawrence Partners, in Aspen, Colorado. Jim is a graduate of Duke University.