March 7, 2023

How New York Developer MaryAnne Gilmartin Built a Career on Embracing the Complicated

Her MAG Partners Begins Leasing Ruby Residential Tower in Manhattan’s Garment District

MaryAnne Gilmartin, who founded MAG Partners in 2020, is known for projects including Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the New York Times Building in Manhattan. (MAG Partners)
MaryAnne Gilmartin, who founded MAG Partners in 2020, is known for projects including Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the New York Times Building in Manhattan. (MAG Partners)

MaryAnne Gilmartin, who founded MAG Partners in 2020, is known for projects including Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the New York Times Building in Manhattan. (MAG Partners)

The older man on the other side of the chain link fence had a shotgun and two pitbulls. MaryAnne Gilmartin, then just 22, was armed with little more than a receptive attitude.

When the dust eventually settled after that on-site meeting, she had successfully dealt with his refusal to leave the land he occupied, helping to clear the way for a project New York City sought to build. Three decades later Gilmartin, now founder and chief executive of New York real estate developer MAG Partners, would be the first to tell you her embrace of projects with complicated issues has ended up serving her well.

Gilmartin’s career has gone from that first assignment involving a vehicle towing yard to include work on buildings such as Barclays Center in Brooklyn, reflecting what she called in an interview a “tendency to lean into projects that have hair on it [and] may require a little more heavy lifting.” She’s expanded her philosophy to include “pursuing opportunities that others may not want.”

The recent kickoff of leasing at Ruby, a two-tower, 480-unit luxury residential rental development that’s 30% affordable, is the latest example of chasing projects that others might turn down. It’s MAG’s first New York development to debut since Gilmartin founded the firm during the pandemic in 2020 after buying out her partners.

The midblock property, located at 243 W. 28th St. between Seventh and Eighth avenues across from the Fashion Institute of Technology in the Garment District, is housed on a former parking lot owned by Edison Properties. Ruby is the fruit of what Gilmartin described as “far from a typical real estate transaction.”

After developers failed to buy the land from Edison, Gilmartin eventually was able to structure a 99-year ground-lease deal that led to the project named after Ruby Bailey, 20th-century fashion pioneer who lived in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.

The New York residential project Ruby, depicted in a rendering, features amenities including a rooftop pool. (DBOX)

There was “a lot of handholding,” she told CoStar News. The deal had “a lot of hair and complicated issues.”

Some of the complications involved convincing MAG’s capital partners to proceed with funding construction during the pandemic when lenders didn’t want to back projects in New York, she said.

“The building became a referendum of sorts,” she said at a real estate event this month hosted by Fordham University, her alma mater. “It’s a bet on New York City.”

‘Accidental Developer’

Gilmartin is no stranger to tackling projects that may have deterred others. She became what she described as an “accidental developer” in the ’80s after graduating from Fordham, and that led to her involvement with a lot of different projects across the city through the Urban Fellows Program.

“It was there that I realized I had real estate in my veins,” she said at the Fordham talk. “It was fortuitous. It wasn’t at all part of my plan.”

When her first Urban Fellows assignment involved the towing site at an industrial park in Queens, she said a stumbling block emerged over the 82-year-old squatter. Gilmartin decided to hop on the train to go visit him, against the advice of others.

“I know nothing about the business,” she said. “All I know is this is a person who has a set of facts and beliefs and preferences and desires. I need to understand what they are. … I literally stood on the other side of the chain link fence and talked to this very disturbed older man. … Real estate is a collection of stories about the human condition.”

Her visit paid off and paved the way for the man transitioning to special housing, clearing the site for the towing facility.

After about seven years working in public service and a two-year stint as a broker, which made her realize “being a middleman is just not in my makeup,” she went to Forest City Ratner and ended up spending 23 years there, including as president and chief executive before the firm was sold to Brookfield Asset Management in 2018.

Making Her Way

Gilmartin, a New York native, grew up in both Rockaway Beach in Queens and in Woodstock, New York, a two-hour drive north of the city. She credits her can-do attitude in part to something her mom said despite growing up in what she described as a “dysfunctional childhood.”

“My mom said, ‘You make your own way. You make your own happiness,’” Gilmartin said.

On the career front, Bruce Ratner, who co-founded Forest City Ratner in 1985 and was its CEO before eventually passing his baton to Gilmartin in 2013, was a big influence.

“I was part of the meritocracy,” Gilmartin said. “Bruce Ratner had my back. We had the confidence we belonged at the table. He said, ‘If you can dream it and can defend it,’ we usually got approval to do it. … Know your wheelhouse. You can’t fake it. If you are substantive in this business, amazing business can happen.”

One of those pieces of businesses involved MAG’s first foray outside New York, partnering with Under Armour founder Kevin Plank as well as Goldman Sachs to oversee Baltimore Peninsula, a 235-acre mixed-use development in Baltimore. Some 1.1 million square feet of office, retail and residential is opening this year on a prime waterfront location as part of the project with 13 million more square feet left to be developed.

Loves New York

“My first love is New York City,” Gilmartin told CoStar News. But within a day’s commute, “between Boston and D.C., we see opportunities. … Land demand and ground-up opportunities are much more amenable” than in New York.

A case in point of how it’s “tough” getting things done in New York, she said, involves the June 2022 expiration of the 421-a tax exemption program that gave developers tax breaks on multifamily developments in exchange for a portion of units being set aside for affordable housing. Without the support of New York state legislators, the program, which Gilmartin calls essential for business, remains dead despite backing from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, she said.

“I’m a little jaded because of that,” she said at the Fordham event. “It’s nice to go to Baltimore. The answer in Baltimore isn’t ‘no.’ The answer is ‘yes.’ In New York, the answer is ‘no’ first. The city has to grow. … If there’s no tax-exemption program, we will have a homogeneous collection of condos that are highly unaffordable for people in the city. There’s a chilling effect” on multifamily development.

Ruby and two other Manhattan residential projects MAG has underway — 335 Eighth Ave., a 190-unit mixed-income apartment building, and 300 E. 50th Street, a 194-unit property on the east side — all qualify under the expired 421-a program, Gilmartin told CoStar.

“This isn’t a windfall for developers,” she told CoStar. “I would like to build more. Multifamily is still the darling asset class in New York. It’s difficult to imagine more projects” without the tax-exemption program.

As New York’s office vacancy rate has surged to new record highs, Gilmartin isn’t calling it quits on the sector. MAG is developing a 175,000-square-foot boutique office at 122 Varick St. in the Hudson Square neighborhood, where both Google and Disney are building major campuses.

“This is a bespoke offering. There’ll continue to be a flight to quality,” she said, adding that it will reflect “the post-pandemic world of how we want to work.”

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February 27, 2023

NYC Developer Opens Chelsea Rentals as Pipeline Gets Tougher

MaryAnne Gilmartin’s first project in the city since striking out on her own will start leasing. Future efforts might become more challenging.

A rendering of an interior of an apartment at MaryAnne Gilmartin’s new development in Chelsea. Source: DBOX

New York veteran developer MaryAnne Gilmartin, who’s worked on the Barclays Center and New York Times Building, will start signing up renters for her new firm’s first completed project. 

Her firm, MAG Partners, begins leasing Monday at the Chelsea development called Ruby — named for the late Harlem-based fashion designer and dressmaker Ruby Bailey — that has 480 apartments spread across two towers. She also has two other Manhattan multifamily projects underway at 335 Eighth Ave. and 300 E. 50th St., but after the deadline to qualify for a key tax incentive expired last year, her outlook for more rental projects across the city is starting to dim.

Gilmartin is among developers warning that the New York rental market — already tough with rents hovering near record highs — could come under pressure as she expects it could take state officials at least a year or two to get serious about replacing the 421-a tax break, an incentive that encouraged building more affordable rentals. In the meantime, she expects the pipeline for rental construction to slow and some developers to turn to more lucrative condominium projects with fewer units and higher prices. 

“We’re going to have homogenized product — too much of it — brought online as a result of not having alternatives,” Gilmartin said. “That does not serve the people in New York City.”

For now, Gilmartin is focused on showing what MAG Partners can build. Ruby, the Chelsea building, plays up its proximity to the Garment District with a brick facade, herringbone flooring and generous closet space. Rents without concessions for Ruby’s market-rate apartments start at $4,330 for studios, $5,955 for one-bedrooms and $9,000 for two-bedrooms. Three-bedrooms will be priced once they’re ready to hit the market. The developer has also designated 30% of its units as affordable housing. 

The lobby of the Chelsea building, called Ruby after a Harlem-based designer. Source: DBOX

Gilmartin previously led Forest City Ratner as chief executive officer before stepping down in 2018. At that firm, she worked on the Pacific Park project that includes the Barclays Center and Renzo Piano’s New York Times Building. Her new firm is one of the few New York real estate developers that’s owned and run by women.

“There’s something about our firm that’s not ordinary, which others tell us and sometimes we forget, which is that we don’t look like a typical New York City development firm,” Gilmartin said. 

The two towers are separated by a 70-foot (21-meter) courtyard that’s full of greenery and recreation areas for residents. There’s also a roof deck and swimming pool, as well as a 5,000-square-foot (465-square-meter) fitness center. About 10% of the units have private outdoor space. 

The towers will feature a rooftop pool, as well as sprawling fitness center. Source: DBOX

Gilmartin hopes the project will show that New York rentals don’t have to be penny-pinching commodities to be profitable. 

“There are plenty of really forgettable buildings that don’t actually stand up nicely over time and that don’t represent the best you could have done, but those buildings will still make money,” she said. “The value that we have is that principles of beauty, diversity and sustainability create long-lasting value — that you can actually build beauty and deliver returns.” 

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February 27, 2023

MAG Partners Launches Leasing at its First New York City Building, Ruby

Designed by renowned global architecture firm COOKFOX Architects, luxury rental project Ruby embraces the history and influences of the Garment District while offering a modernized luxury living experience in one of Manhattan’s most desirable neighborhoods

Link to renderings here

NEW YORK (February 27, 2023) – Woman-owned leading real estate company MAG Partners today announced the launch of leasing at Ruby, a residential development located at 243 West 28th Street in Chelsea. Located across the street from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, within New York City’s Garment District, Ruby offers 480 studio to three-bedroom residences amongst two towers – 30 percent of which are reserved for affordable housing – in addition to 8,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

Named after fashion designer Ruby Bailey, an expressive visual and performance artist and master beader, Ruby is MAG Partners’ first New York City project and the first in a portfolio of residential buildings to be named after historical and influential women.

“MAG Partners is built upon the principles of beauty, diversity, inclusion and sustainability, all of which are reflected within the living experience at Ruby,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, Founder and CEO of MAG Partners. “As a firm founded in New York, we couldn’t be more excited to open this passion project in our own backyard. We are proud that our first building is providing much-needed housing in our city and offers thoughtfully designed residences focused on health and wellness.”

Designed by globally renowned architecture firm COOKFOX Architects, the 22-story and 23-story towers’ architectural expression is inspired by the historic fabric of the turn-of-the-century Garment District neighboring buildings, incorporating biophilic elements throughout its amenities. The thoughtful design pays tribute to creatives in the garment industry like Bailey, a Bermudian immigrant who led an artistic life in NYC. In addition to her eclectic fashion and clothing designs, she also created a series of doll-sized “mannequins” which today are part of the permanent costume collection in the Museum of the City of New York. She lived in Harlem until her death in 2003 at the age of 97.

“Our design for Ruby was inspired by the forms and patterns of Garment District masonry structures and the warp and weft of woven textiles. These historical elements lend a sense of authenticity to the new residences and elevate residential design in the neighborhood,” said Rick Cook, Founding Partner of COOKFOX Architects. “The attention to craft and amenities at Ruby that connect residents to outdoor space and gardens brings nature-connected living into one of the busiest areas of Manhattan.”

Each of the residences within Ruby are thoughtfully appointed with sophisticated details. Kitchens are designed with integrated Bosch appliances with herringbone backsplash, harkening back to the textile context. The bathrooms also feature porcelain herringbone tiles, with ceramic subway tile walls and extra-wide built-in medicine cabinets. All units include a Bosch stacked washer and dryer, three-layer, 5-inch-wide engineered oak wood flooring, keyless unit entry door hardware, Nest thermometers, solar shades throughout (including blackout shades in the bedrooms) and generous closet space. Approximately 10 percent of units have private outdoor space. 

The approximately 19,000-square-foot robust amenity package includes an array of indoor/outdoor offerings. In addition to a rooftop pool, roof lounge and grilling terrace, there is a club lounge with dining and entertainment areas, a library lounge with coworking and meeting spaces, a landscaped courtyard and lobby garden, a 5,000-square-foot, two-floor fitness center with cardio and weight training facilities, and more.

The Ruby facade is contextual masonry inspired by the rich historic architectural fabric of the neighborhood featuring hand-laid brick, richly patterned surfaces and narrow setbacks. While the exterior evokes the neighborhood’s industrial past, the interior lobby and amenity spaces provide tranquil moments promoting wellbeing including warmly-lit wood panels, angled millwork, custom panels and diffused interior lighting. The two towers are anchored by a courtyard – a private sanctuary overlooking a landscaped lobby garden, connecting the residents to nature. 

Ruby incorporates high-performance building systems that optimize energy performance, enhance indoor air quality, and improve acoustic performance to provide residents with the ultimate luxury – an urban sanctuary. Along with all of the outdoor spaces, daylighting of corridors, and the use of natural materials and patterns in design, the sustainability strategies will contribute to the building’s LEED Silver certification.

“We are thrilled to be a part of MAG Partner’s inaugural project. The thoughtfully designed and constructed development brings much-needed affordable and market-rate housing to Chelsea,” said Andy D’Amico, president and CEO of Urban Atelier Group, which is leading the construction management of the project. “Ruby is the perfect model for housing in the 21st century with a design rooted in the neighborhood’s architectural fabric and sustainable strategies that connect residents to nature. The project’s success would not have been possible without the trust and transparency between our partners to help bring the vision to life.”

To further honor Bailey, MAG Partners has partnered with The Social Justice Center at FIT – a first-of-its-kind initiative in higher education seeking to address the systemic problems faced by BIPOC youth, college students, and working professionals in the fields that drive the creative economy – to offer a scholarship for BIPOC FIT students.

“We are proud to honor the life of Ruby Bailey and the contributions she made as a Black female artist who built a lifelong career in New York City,” Gilmartin added. “The partnership with FIT will allow her legacy to live on through the lives of the next generation of BIPOC creatives looking to make their mark in the city.”

Founded by seasoned real estate professional Gilmartin, MAG Partners was formed in 2020 as a 21st century national urban development company dedicated to diversity and inclusivity in the real estate industry. The Ruby announcement comes on the heels of MAG Partners’ 2022 successful launch of its Baltimore Peninsula project in Baltimore, Maryland, a 235-acre master plan designed for impact on a post-industrial waterfront peninsula in central South Baltimore. The project is being developed in partnership with Sagamore Ventures, Urban Investment Group within Goldman Sachs Asset Management and MacFarlane Partners.

Other NYC projects in the works for MAG Partners include nearby 335 Eighth Avenue, a mixed income, 190-unit apartment building with ground floor commercial space; 300 East 50th Street, a 194-unit multifamily building with ground floor retail at the corner of Second Avenue; and 122 Varick Street, a 175,000-square-foot boutique office development. The female names of the future residential buildings will be unveiled closer to their launches.

Ruby is conveniently located within walking distance to Penn Station which includes access to nearly every NYC subway line in addition to the Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, PATH and Amtrak. Residents will enjoy easy access to the city’s leading restaurants, entertainment venues, shopping and more.

“Having worked with MAG Partners and the entire design team from inception, Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is proud to represent Ruby and bring to market this best-in-class rental development,” said Matthew Villetto, Executive Vice President, Douglas Elliman Development Marketing. “The integration of wellness, biophilic aspects, high design and finishes, unparalleled amenities and services, contextual architecture, stunning views and more have resulted in an end-product and experience that will undoubtedly stand out in the marketplace and exceed renter expectations.”  

The project is a joint venture between MAG Partners, Safanad, Atalaya Capital Management and Qualitas. MAG Partners previously announced that it has secured a $173 million construction loan from Madison Realty Capital for the project.

Market-rate studios at Ruby begin at $4,500 per month. Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is the exclusive marketing and leasing agent for Ruby. For more information, please visit or (212) 551-RUBY.


About MAG Partners

MAG Partners is a woman-owned, urban real estate company with decades of experience developing impactful, iconic, large-scale projects throughout New York City. Led by MaryAnne Gilmartin, together the MAG Partners team has successfully designed, built and operated over 7 million square feet of office, residential and mixed-use projects, including over 2,000 units of housing, with a total value of over $4.5 billion. The firm believes and has proven that principles of beauty, diversity and sustainability create lasting value.

About COOKFOX Architects

COOKFOX Architects is a New York based architectural and interior design studio. COOKFOX has built a studio focused on high-performance, environmentally responsive, socially engaged design. The studio is well-known for innovative design that supports physical health and mental wellness at the highest standards of environmental performance. With a portfolio of diverse residential, workplace, and education projects, COOKFOX seeks to pursue architecture that restores, regenerates, and elevates our collective experience of the urban environment.

About Douglas Elliman Development Marketing (DEDM)

Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, a division of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, offers unmatched expertise in sales, leasing, and marketing for new developments throughout New York City,  Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Florida, California, Massachusetts, and Texas. The company’s new development hybrid platform matches highly experienced new development experts with skilled brokerage professionals who provide unparalleled expertise and real time market intelligence to its clients. The firm is heralded for its achievements in record breaking sales throughout each of its regions. Drawing upon decades of experience and market-specific knowledge, Douglas Elliman Development Marketing offers a multidisciplinary approach that includes comprehensive in-house research, planning and design, marketing, and sales. Through a strategic global alliance with Knight Frank Residential, the world’s largest privately-owned property consultancy, the company markets properties to audiences in 61 countries, representing an over $87 billion global new development portfolio.

About Urban Atelier Group

Urban Atelier Group (UAG) is a boutique construction management firm based in New York City. UAG’s culture is rooted in the ethos of an atelier – the team views itself as a creative workshop where each member has a voice and the ability to elicit change.Founded by President and CEO Andy D’Amico and Executive Vice President and Operations Manager, James Palace, the firm emphasizes a collaborative process, working with key stakeholders to build beyond construction drawings. The firm’s portfolio of distinguished work is defined by analytic problem-solving and transparency, constructing innovative designs with unparalleled service.

February 15, 2023

Ruby Nears Completion At 241 West 28th Street In Chelsea, Manhattan

Exterior work is nearing completion on Ruby, a 22-story two-tower residential complex at 241 West 28th Street in Chelsea. Designed by COOKFOX and developed by MAG Partners, Atalaya, Safanad, and Qualitas, the 400,000-square-foot project will yield 480 rental units with 144 reserved for low- and middle-income households, as well as 8,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Urban Atelier Group is the general contractor for the property, which is located on a through-block parcel between Seventh and Eighth Avenues with frontage on both West 28th and 29th Streets. The developers are aiming for LEED Silver certification.

Since our last update in October, the construction elevator has been dismantled from the West 28th Street elevation and the gap in the façade has been filled in. Nearly all of the 100,000 square feet of bricks have been laid by King Contracting Group and the mostly blank western sides of both towers are now clad in their final EIFS enclosure. Only minor work remains to be completed around the ground floor and upper levels. Belden Tri-State supplied the brick on this one and Cladding Concepts supplied the decorative railings.

241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young

More of the decorative railings have been put in place across the second level and eastern end of the building, and dark spandrels have been installed across the upper levels. Sidewalk scaffolding still surrounds the northern and southern ground-floor frontage but should be removed in the coming weeks once exterior work wraps up.

241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young

The below images show the look of the interior sides of the towers, which feature metal paneling lining their central cores.

241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young
241 West 28th Street. Photo by Michael Young

Homes come with in-unit washers and dryers, central AC, and name-brand kitchen appliances. Amenities at Ruby include a dog-washing station, a media room, multiple indoor lounges, fitness center, children’s playroom, laundry room, bike storage, live-in superintendent, a 24/7 attended lobby, and an outdoor lounge with a swimming pool and an adjoining terrace.

The nearest subway is the local 1 train at the 28th Street station to the east along Seventh Avenue. Also nearby is the 34th Street-Penn Station complex with access to the A, C, E, 1, 2, and 3 trains, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and Amtrak.

241 West 28th Street is anticipated to be completed this summer.

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