CHICAGO — Christopher Kennedy, son of the late Robert Kennedy, said he will step down as president of MMPI, which owns Chicago’s sprawling Merchandise Mart and other properties.

In a letter to colleagues, Kennedy said this month marked his 25th year at the Mart, which houses Stylemax, the Midwest’s largest women’s apparel and accessories trade show, and after reaching that milestone he wants to explore other opportunities.

“I am young enough to start a new career and old enough to know how,” he wrote. “I have a growing interest in public policy, community service and the impact of strong leadership in these areas. Entrepreneurial business development seems like the best way to serve those interests.”

In late July, Kennedy will be succeeded by Mark Falanga, a senior vice president who has worked at the Mart for 17 years. Myron Maurer, a 24-year veteran of the company, will become chief operating officer with Kennedy serving as a consultant through March 2012.

On Friday, Falanga said the Mart will continue to house and grow Stylemax, which runs four times a year, and the Chicago Collective, a twice yearly men’s apparel market.

“We are committed to the apparel business,” Falanga said. “We’re in it for the long haul.”

The apparel industry is part of the Mart’s history as it was developed by Marshall Field and Co. in 1930. Kennedy’s grandfather, Joseph Kennedy, purchased the structure, which sprawls two city blocks and rises 25 stories, in 1945. In 1998, MMPI was bought by Vornado Realty Trust, with Kennedy staying on and serving as president since 2000.

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