December 15, 2019
The Real Deal

“Conviction and appetite to do it myself”: MaryAnne Gilmartin talks spinoff from L&L

When L&L MAG was formed nearly two years ago, there was a carveout option: MaryAnne Gilmartin could eventually strike out on her own. Now, she’s going that route.

“I have the conviction and appetite to do it myself,” she told The Real Deal on Sunday.

She will spin off from the company she started with L&L Holding’s David Levinson and Robert Lapidus and form what she described as a “truly woman-owned” firm, MAG Partners.
Crain’s first reported the split, under which the two companies could still work together.

When Gilmartin left Forest City to launch L&L MAG in 2018, she said she felt her “finest work is yet to come.” She wanted to focus on ground-up development — an area the real estate investment trust had been moving away from. Forest City was purchased that same year by Brookfield Asset Management for $6.8 billion.

The partnership with L&L served as a bridge for Gilmartin as she transitioned from a public company with an enormous balance sheet to a private one where she’d need to build relationships with investors to finance development. Not only did Gilmartin benefit from L&L’s existing connections, but the two forged new ones as part of L&L MAG. She pointed to Atalaya Capital Management, which didn’t have prior relationships with either L&L or Gilmartin. The firm invested in L&L MAG’s 460-unit residential project at 241 West 28th Street in Chelsea. Another firm that is investing in the project, Australian firm Qualitas, had met Gilmartin during her Forest City days.

But not all relationships will transfer to MAG Partners. For instance, Gilmartin said her new firm will not work with the $500 million joint venture which L&L and California pension fund CalSTRS launched prior to the creation of L&L MAG.

Since the firm’s launch, L&L MAG started the West 28th Street project and became a development partner at 44-02 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City. The Queens site could be included in a potential rezoning, though it’s also embroiled in a long-standing foreclosure fight. The Durst Organization, which owns the debt on the property, has been trying to foreclose on the six-acre site for more than a decade. It’s unclear whether L&L will work on the Long Island City project.

Crain’s also previously reported that L&L MAG is competing against Silverstein Properties and Brookfield to develop 5 World Trade Center. Representatives for L&L didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

Gilmartin declined to discuss other projects that her new firm is considering. But she reiterated her desire to lead a development where a woman is responsible for every facet.

“There are women in every aspect of the real estate cycle that are rock stars and best in class,” she said. “One would not have to compromise in any way, shape or form to do that.”

She added that, of course, men can live and work at the project, joking, “It’s not that we’re going to keep the men out.”

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December 14, 2019
The Real Deal

Gilmartin splitting from Lapidus, Levinson

After less than two years, MaryAnne Gilmartin is splitting off from her development partners David Levinson and Robert Lapidus to go it alone.

Gilmartin, the former CEO of Forest City Ratner who teamed up with L&L Holding Co.’s Levinson and Lapidus to form L&L MAG in January 2018, has exercised an option to exit the partnership, Crain’s reported. Her new firm, to be called MAG Partners, will continue to focus on ground-up projects.

“Two years ago, we put together a vision for a new development firm and that partnership has been super successful,” Gilmartin told the publication. “But we had always planned to get to a point where I could spin off and achieve my goal of leading a new company. I’m in a position now to go forward and have the capital partners I need.”

L&L MAG had so far struck just one major development deal, for a 460-unit residential building in Chelsea. According to Crain’s, Gilmartin and the L&L executives will see that project through together. And Gilmartin’s new firm will take over full control of 44-02 Vernon Boulevard, a Long Island City development site that allows for a million-square-foot residential project. Gilmartin did not disclose whether she will have to pay a breakup fee to leave L&L MAG. [Crain’s]

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December 14, 2019
Crain's New York Business

Developer spins off from partners to launch her own real estate firm

The prominent real estate executive MaryAnne Gilmartin is splitting with developers she partnered with two years ago to launch a new real estate firm. 

Gilmartin said she had exercised an option to exit from the venture with David Levinson and Robert Lapidus, the chief executives of the real estate investment and development firm L&L Holding Company. 

Gilmartin’s new company will be called MAG Partners and will continue to focus on ground-up real estate projects in the city. 

“Two years ago, we put together a vision for a new development firm and that partnership has been super successful,” Gilmartin said. “But we had always planned to get to a point where I could spin off and achieve my goal of leading a new company.”

Gilmartin and Levinson both described the split as amicable and suggested they may still work together with one another on future investments. 

“It’s a reconstitution of our relationship,” Gilmartin said. “It’s fundamentally strong and positive.” 

Known as L&L MAG, the partnership between Gilmartin and L&L Holding Co. produced only one development deal during its lifespan, a project to raise a 22-story, 460-unit rental apartment building on West 28th Street. Gilmartin said that the venture would break ground on that tower early next year and would complete it together, but left open whether the two will continue to work together on other projects it had recently contemplated. 

Gilmartin, for instance, had been recently arranging to build a large residential property on a development site along the waterfront in Long Island City. She said MAG Partners would take over that deal at 44-02 Vernon Blvd., leaving it uncertain whether L&L Holding Co. would participate. 

“The answer is, we’ll take a good look at it,” Levinson said when asked whether he would continue to be involved in that development. “It’s an exciting project and we’d like to invest.”

Gilmartin had been a long-time executive at the prominent New York City real estate development firm Forest City Ratner, rising to the position of president and CEO before departing in early 2018 to launch L&L MAG. Much of Forest City’s portfolio was sold off subsequent to her exit. 

Part of the allure of joining with L&L Holding Co. was tapping Levinson’s and Lapidus’s network of connections to investment dollars, Gilmartin said. The pair have developed relationships with major institutional money backers, including the large California pension fund CalSTRS. 

“I have been a beneficiary of L&L’s relationships,” Gilmartin said. “I’m in a position now to go forward and have the capital partners I need. That has proved to be one of the great successes over the last two years together.”

Gilmartin declined to say who MAG Partners’ financial backers would be. Real estate developers such as L&L Holding Co. generally undertake real estate deals with a small amount of their own equity, securing the bulk of the cash needed to buy and build property from larger financial partners.

Gilmartin also declined to describe the financial terms of the split with L&L Holding Co. and whether she is required to pay any kind of breakup fee to the firm. 

Nearly a dozen employees from L&L MAG will join Gilmartin in her new venture. 

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