Stephen Ross: From Detroit to New York’s Skyline

In the world of real estate development, few names resonate as powerfully as Stephen Ross, the founder, and chairman of The Related Companies. His journey, from the streets of Detroit to the towering skyscrapers of New York City, is a testament to ambition, vision, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.

Early Days and Education

Born in Detroit, Ross’s initial foray into the world of business was in Florida, where his family relocated to manage a hotel. His academic journey took him from the University of Florida to the University of Michigan, and eventually to New York, where he pursued a master’s in taxation. These academic pursuits would lay the foundation for his future endeavors in real estate investment and development.

A Foray into Real Estate

Ross’s entry into the real estate world was marked by a combination of astute observation and seizing opportunities. He began his career in tax law, which provided him with a unique perspective on real estate syndication. This background, combined with his experiences in investment banking, positioned him to recognize the potential of certain underutilized properties in New York.

One such opportunity was the Time Warner Center. From his office at 625 Madison Avenue, Ross would often gaze at the old Coliseum and envision its potential. This vision would eventually materialize into one of New York’s most iconic mixed-use developments.

Philosophy and Approach

Throughout the interview, Ross emphasizes the importance of being “best in class.” For him, success in real estate is not just about constructing buildings but about creating lasting value. He believes in learning from others, especially from their mistakes. This philosophy has guided his approach to business, allowing him to navigate the complexities of the real estate world with a discerning eye.

Ross also underscores the significance of having a consistent source of income in the real estate development business. He attributes part of his success to his background in tax syndication, which provided a steady income stream and buffered against the cyclical nature of real estate.

A Sporting Venture and Future Aspirations

Beyond real estate, Ross’s interests extend to the world of sports. He is the principal owner of the Miami Dolphins, a venture he approached with the same zeal and vision as his real estate projects. Looking ahead, Ross is deeply involved in the development of Hudson Yards, another transformative project that promises to redefine New York’s skyline.


Stephen Ross’s journey is a masterclass in vision, determination, and strategic thinking. From his early days in Detroit to his monumental projects in New York, Ross has consistently demonstrated what is possible with the right mix of insight, ambition, and expertise. His story serves as an inspiration for budding entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals alike, reminding us of the power of vision and the importance of relentless pursuit of excellence.