In this episode, I speak with one of the preeminent real estate developers of our generation, MaryAnne Gilmartin. She’s known for building Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Atlantic Yards, and the New York Times building, to name a few. And she’s now expanding beyond New York City to develop the Baltimore Peninsula—a 177 acre project which includes 14 million square feet of new development and 40 acres of publicly accessible open space. You can listen here on Substack or:
In this interview, you’ll hear the exciting details of her emerging new development in Baltimore as well as why this project is an excellent model for urban spaces—from the details of the master plan to the urban geography to the role of placemaking to the motivations of each stakeholder.
MaryAnne and Brad also discuss the current development environment in New York City. MaryAnne shares her thoughts about the policies and politics that have added headwinds to new housing construction and what the city and state need to do to dig out of the housing crisis. She also shares why she’s optimistic about the city and many New York politicians and why, ultimately, she’d still bet on NYC over any other city in the world.
This interview will be inspiring to any lovers of great real estate projects and development. MaryAnne has a wealth of insights on what it takes to thrive (and survive) as a developer and what key elements make a project valuable and promising. She has a palpable passion for cities and creativity and vision for the future of the built world.
Foundations Underway At 300 East 50th Street In Midtown East, Manhattan
By: MICHAEL YOUNG AND MATT PRUZNICK
Foundations are underway at 300 East 50th Street, the site of a 23-story residential building in the Turtle Bay section of Midtown East, Manhattan. Designed by BKSK Architects and developed by MAG Partners in collaboration with Global Holdings, KRW Realty Advisors, Krown Point, and Safanad, the 275-foot-tall structure will span 170,000 square feet and yield 194 units, with 30 percent allocated to affordable housing, as well as ground-floor retail space, a cellar level, and a 30-foot-long side yard. 300 East 50th Street Owner LLC is listed as the owner and Urban Atelier Group is the general contractor for the property, which is located at the intersection of Second Avenue and East 50th Street.
Recent photographs show the reinforced concrete foundations in progress with the slab and perimeter walls already formed, and numerous bundles of rebar protruding throughout the plot at the locations of the core and columns. Based on the pace of work, construction could reach street level by the spring.
The below Google Street View image details the low-rise building that occupied the property prior to its demolition.
The rendering in the main photo depicts the northern corner of 300 East 50th Street showing a light gray brick envelope surrounding a grid of floor-to-ceiling windows. The structure rises uniformly to the first setback on the 16th floor, which is topped with landscaped terraces. Additional setbacks are located on the 18th floor, after which the building continues to the parapet and mechanical bulkhead lined with metal grilles. The property features 100 feet of ground-floor retail frontage on the northern and western elevations, with large bay windows framed by bronze-colored paneling.
King Contracting Group will be in charge of installing the CMU blocks, brick cladding, and EIFS panels.
The building is planned to house ten to 12 apartments per floor on levels two through 15, and five to seven apartments per floor on levels 16 through 23. Amenities include a shared rooftop deck, bicycle parking, a lounge, a fitness center, and an inner courtyard.
The nearest subways from the property are the E and F trains at the Lexington Avenue-53rd Street station, which provides a connection to the 6 train at the 51st Street station.
300 East 50th Street’s anticipated completion date is slated for the fourth quarter of 2025, as noted on site.
Baltimore is having a moment. The positive headlines have been everywhere the past few months, brimming with superlatives. Just last week, The New York Times placed Baltimore among its top 15 places to visit in 2024 and said the city is having an “enormous year.” Baltimore has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country. We just saw the largest drop in homicides ever. The region has been designated a federal tech hub, and the area is increasingly becoming a destination for visitors from far and wide — with CFG Bank Arena ranking as one of the highest-grossing venues globally last year.
As a result — or maybe it’s the cause — companies and institutions, private and public, are investing here again. The Ravens and the Orioles both made big commitments over the past few months (and won a lot of games), and CFG Bank Arena’s investments have helped attract the best acts in the country. Planning for the new Red Line is underway, Bloomberg Philanthropies is helping to tackle our vacant homes challenge with Mayor Scott, and our port has millions of dollars coming from the Department of Transportation down the road in D.C.
But as a newcomer to Charm City, I’ve also noticed that we’ve been conditioned to always expect the other shoe to drop. The good news about the city’s economic growth was immediately followed by a headline (in another publication) about how the growth is probably not sustainable. Give us at least a day to be inspired and optimistic about where things are headed.
When a foolish comedian took cheap shots at Baltimore last year, it was beautiful to see so many people rally together to stand up for the city, but the truth is that we’re too used to just grinning and bearing it, too tired of pushing back. As someone who spends much of her time pitching companies around the country on Baltimore as a potential home, I get it. But I also know that there’s too much good happening here to let negativity prevail. It’s time that we stand together to tell our story and finally change the narrative about the city we love.
Where do we start? Last year, the city’s economy grew to more than $50 billion. With nearly 6% growth, Baltimore beat out nearly every other similarly sized major city nationwide. Citywide, we’re seeing robust, rapid economic growth and a low unemployment rate of just 4.3%. Coupled with inspiring progress on the tragic homicide crisis, Baltimore is signaling that it’s on the brink of real change.
This was far from inevitable. Just look down I-95 to D.C., where hybrid work hollowed out the downtown and sent crime spiraling. Our sports teams are investing; theirs are planning to leave.
Leaders who care about Baltimore in Annapolis and Washington have helped a lot, too, and that is an important part of our story moving forward. In addition to DOT’s massive commitment to the Port of Baltimore, the new federal designation as a “tech hub” has made Baltimore a finalist for billions of dollars in economic development funding, while Johns Hopkins aims to make the city an epicenter for AI research. Our new governor has made Baltimore a top priority, and our mayor has partnered with faith and business leaders to announce a $3 billion plan to invest in 35,700 vacant homes. This monumental effort will bring funding to under-resourced communities that have suffered from disinvestment for far too long.
The last piece, and the one I’m most focused on, is attracting new businesses (and office leases) back to Baltimore. There too we are seeing very promising progress. Along the Inner Harbor, the new Harborplace development proposal is a major investment in downtown. To its east, Harbor Point is seeing a slew of new tenants and businesses setting up shop. Across the city, we’re all working towards the same goal: a stronger Baltimore.
And at Baltimore Peninsula, we closed the year by announcing 15 new office and retail leases totaling over 65,000 square feet, building on CFG Bank’s historic flagship lease signed to support its expansion last year. They’ll be right across from the new Under Armour HQ, and when that campus opens later this year, it will be a milestone that all of Baltimore should celebrate.
It’s not just large corporations; all across the city, we’re seeing small businesses open in droves and trendy retailers from across the country set up shop. Hip chains like renowned restaurateur Pinky Cole’s Slutty Vegan, regional favorites like Clyde’s and large national retailers are no longer skipping Baltimore as they expand up the Northeast corridor. If you follow the money, it’s clear that Baltimore’s comeback is well underway.
We need to recognize the greatness of Baltimore and the success that we’re seeing each and every day. The city has so much going for it — incredible people, a thriving culture, a location that can’t be beat, and a relentless attitude of resilience and determination. With a robust and diverse economy, high-paying jobs and the support of state and local lawmakers, Baltimore is poised to enter a new era of innovation and growth now more than ever.
This is the next chapter in Baltimore’s story, and it’s time for everyone to celebrate our wins and continue building toward a brighter future. When we all uplift each other, we all succeed.
MaryAnne Gilmartin ([email protected]) is the founder and chief executive officer of MAG Partners, a woman-owned urban real estate company currently developing Baltimore Peninsula in partnership with Sagamore Ventures and Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group.
Explore urban waterways and an array of Native artwork
It’s an enormous year for Charm City. The 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act is bringing in a new Justice Thurgood Marshall Amenity Center; the Baltimore Museum of Art is increasing the presence of Native artists with solo shows, thematic exhibitions and changes to displays and labels across the museum; and Baltimore Peninsula, a place for visitors and locals to shop, dine and play, will breathe new life into a long-neglected port area. For outdoor enthusiasts, a network of waterways called the Baltimore Blueway — open to kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and rowboats — will connect visitors throughout the waterfront to cultural, historic and natural sites. And movie buffs take note: The director John Waters will be in his hometown shooting a film based on his first novel, “Liarmouth.” — Daniel Scheffler
A joint venture between MAG Partners and Safanad has secured $151.4 million in financing to capitalize a seven-story, 181-unit mixed-use multifamily building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, Commercial Observer has learned.
Two different parts ofJLL Capital Marketsled the respective financing arrangements. JLL’s debt advisory financing team was led by Managing Director Geoff Goldstein and Senior Directors Jillian Mariutti and Stephen Van Leer. JLL’s equity advisory team was led by Senior Managing Directors Rob Hinckley and Jeffrey Julien, and Director Nicco Lupo.
Hinckley in a statement described the current market as “dislocated” and said his team is “thrilled” to have completed the financing in such a challenging environment.
“The project’s best-in-class sponsors have a proven track record delivering market-leading properties that offer outstanding investment characteristics,” said Hinckley.
MAG Partners, led by founder MaryAnne Gilmartin, earned the right to develop the property with Safanad after winning a request for proposals from the owner of the building’s land, Penn South, an affordable housing cooperative. The project secured a 421a tax abatement prior to the law’s June 2022 expiration. Roughly 30 percent of the building’s 188 units will be reserved for low- to middle-income residents. MAG Partners plans to develop the project as an energy sustainable, LEED Gold-certified building.
The property is at 335 Eighth Avenue, at the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 26th Street in Chelsea. Roughly 90 percent of the units in the mixed-use project will consist of studios and one-bedroom apartments, with remaining units two-bedrooms. The building will carry 30,000 square feet of amenities, including a fitness center, a media lounge, a coworking space, a ground-floor private garden, and a rooftop garden. There’s supposed to be a 25,461-square-feet Lidl Supermarket on the ground floor.
“In a market with a 2.1 percent vacancy rate, 335 Eighth Avenue’s curated unit mix and high-level amenity package will meet demand from renters seeking to live in a desirable luxury multihousing development in the highly sought-after neighborhood of Chelsea,” said Mariutti in a statement.
The project is set to be completed in the third quarter of 2025.
MAG adds major partner, snags $73M for Chelsea project
By: Kathryn Brenzel
Bank OZK funds another deal for developer
MaryAnne Gilmartin’s firm secured a new partner for its apartment building in Chelsea, along with $73 million in construction financing.
MAG Partners and Safanad are partnering with MetLife Investment Management to build a 188-unit building at 335 Eighth Avenue.
The joint venture also closed on a $73 million loan from Bank OZK.
In January, MAG and Safanad inked a 99-year ground lease for the site, which is controlled by Penn South, a 10-building Mitchell-Lama housing cooperative.
The co-op’s board voted in 2021 to create a ground lease at 335 Eighth Avenue, as a way to generate income on the site. At the time, various leases on the site were ending in the 60-year-old retail building, for tenants including Gristedes, McDonald’s and a tennis center.
Demolition and construction began in the fall of this year, though foundation footings were in place for the project to qualify for the now-expired property tax break 421a. The project will include 188 apartments, 30 percent of which will be set aside as affordable. To ultimately qualify for the tax break, construction will need to be completed by June 2026, though the development team estimates the bulk of work will be done by late 2025.
This latest closing follows another for MAG Partners last month. Bank OZK provided $95 million in construction financing for 300 East 50th Street, a 195-unit project in Turtle Bay.
“It is thrilling to end 2023 with a second residential closing and now nearly 400 units under construction in Manhattan,” Gilmartin said in a statement.
Construction financing isn’t easy to come by for multifamily projects, especially those scrambling to meet the 421a completion deadline. Lenders have mandated that developers guarantee that construction is completed even earlier than 2026. Recognizing developers’ challenges, the Adams administration launched a task force this month to help projects meet the tax break’s deadline.
MAG Partners and Safanad Secure Joint Venture with MetLife Investment Management to Capitalize $150M Development at 335 8th Avenue
MAG Partners and Safanad Secure Joint Venture with MetLife Investment Management to Capitalize $150M Development at 335 8th Avenue
JV Secures $73M Construction Loan from Bank OZK for passive house residential building on the Penn South Coop Campus in Chelsea
NEW YORK, NY. [December 22, 2006] – MAG Partners and Safanad announced today their partnership with MetLife Investment Management to capitalize 335 8th Avenue, a $150M luxury residential building in Chelsea. The partnership also announced that it has closed on a $73 million construction loan with Bank OZK for the 188-unit, mixed-use development now under construction. The building has been designed to achieve Passive House and LEED Gold certifications.
“It is thrilling to end 2023 with a second residential closing and now nearly 400 units under construction in Manhattan,” said Founder and CEO of MAG Partners, MaryAnne Gilmartin. “Our beautifully designed passive house building will be an incredible addition to the West Chelsea neighborhood and contribute to the ongoing success of Penn South’s mission.”
“Safanad is pleased to capitalize its third multifamily development in Manhattan with MAG Partners, building on the success of our Ruby Chelsea and 50th Street projects”, said Danny Jumblatt, Managing Director at Safanad. “We believe these projects are emblematic of the strength of our partnership with MAG Partners and expect them to perform strongly in the face of limited incoming supply over the next few years.”
“This new development will bring a dependable source of commercial income to our limited-equity community. Coupled with a high-quality supermarket, Lidl, and 30% of the new apartments being set aside as affordable housing through the 421a program, the new building fits Penn South’s commitment to serving our community. We are excited for this project that will enhance our residents’ and neighbors’ quality of life,” said Ambur Nicosia, Board President of Penn South.
Today’s announcement follows on MAG Partners and Safanad closing a $95M construction loan with Bank OZK in partnership with Global Holdings at 300 East 50th Street last month. The investment caps a productive year for MAG Partners in the Manhattan residential market, including the start of leasing at Ruby at 243 West 28th Street and the start of construction at East 50th Street and 8th Avenue. The woman-owned development company now has nearly 1,000 units of mixed-income housing in development in New York City.
MAG Partners was selected by the affordable homeownership coop Penn South to develop the parcel on a 99-year ground lease. Located at 26th Street and 8th Avenue, the residential building, designed by COOKFOX, will include a 20,350 SF ground floor grocery operated by Lidl. Construction at 335 8th Avenue commenced in September 2023, with a ceremonial groundbreaking with local elected officials in early October. First occupancy is expected in late summer 2025 and substantial completion in late 2025.
JLL helped secure both the equity and construction financing for the project. JLL’s Capital Markets Debt Advisory team was led by Managing Director Geoff Goldstein and Senior Directors Jillian Mariutti and Stephen Van Leer. The Sales and Equity Placement team included Senior Managing Directors Rob Hinckley and Jeff Julien and Director Nicco Lupo. The deal was led by Jeff Rosen, Principal, and Adam Freindlich, Vice President, of MAG Partners and Danny Jumblatt, Managing Director, and Riley Solter, Senior Associate, of Safanad.
About MAG Partners
MAG Partners is a New York City based, woman-owned, urban real estate company with decades of experience developing in the New York City area. Collectively, the MAG Team has developed nearly 3,520 housing units and over 14.7 million square feet of office, residential and mixed-use assets. MAG Partners currently has nearly 1,000 units of multi-family development under the Affordable New York program in Manhattan today. In addition to 300 East 50th Street, Ruby, a 480-unit luxury building in Chelsea designed by COOKFOX, began leasing in late March to strong demand. Earlier this fall, construction began on 335 8th Avenue, a 188-unit mixed-income residential building with a Lidl grocery store.
Founded in 2009, Safanad is a global holding company combining investment and operational excellence. We developdeep conviction behind investment sectors that have strong macroeconomic tailwinds, build powerful operating platforms to capitalize on these opportunities, and realize the greatest value from this expertise through organic growth and acquisitions over time. Safanad invests in impact, with platforms in Education, Healthcare, Digital Infrastructure, and Real Estate. From offices in New York, London, Riyadh, and Dubai, the firm’s c. 40 professionals have completed more than 40 transactions totaling $10 billion. For more information, please visit www.safanad.com
Today, the Baltimore Peninsula development team announced a new retail tenant coming next year called The Exchange. This “multi-vendor goods and services retail space” will be located on the first floor of the Rye Street Market office building at 301 Mission Blvd.
The Exchange is a partnership with Slutty Vegan Founder Pinky Cole Hayes, who recently announced her restaurants Slutty Vegan and Bar Vegan will be opening in the same building. Hayes will work with the Baltimore Peninsula development team to curate the vendors at The Exchange.
The approximately 5,000 sq. ft. The Exchange will have numerous spaces ranging from 90 sq. ft. to 165 s q. ft. The spaces are designated for local retailers offering “a hyperlocal collection of merchandise and goods.” There will also be a food stall, a seating area, and additional space to be used as a yoga studio and multi-purpose room.
The Exchange will offer “flexible, shorter-term obligations, lower costs to open, and technical support for local, minority and women-owned businesses, furthering the Baltimore Peninsula development team’s MOU commitment to assisting small minority and women business owners with the expansion of their companies.”
Leasing efforts will be led by Andrew G. Segall of Segall Group.
The Baltimore Peninsula development team is comprised of developers MAG Partners and MacFarlane Partners with investments from Kevin Plank and his Sagamore Ventures investment firm, and the Urban Investment Group within Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
“The Exchange embodies our commitment to cultivating a space for local entrepreneurship to thrive,” said Plank in a press release. “Creating a dedicated space for small businesses provides the ideal opportunity for the Baltimore Peninsula development team to further fulfill its MOU commitments, which are an integral piece of our overall vision. We look forward to exploring ideas from the community and working with local entrepreneurs to provide a platform for support and growth through The Exchange.”
“There is a deep well of creative talent and entrepreneurial spirit in Baltimore that deserves a platform for growth,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG Partners, in a press release. “I couldn’t be more excited to unveil The Exchange and provide our residents and visitors with a one-stop-shop for the best Baltimore has to offer. As the vision for The Exchange starts coming to life, we welcome all small business owners to reach out and share your ideas for how we can partner to create a unique, unparalleled experience in South Baltimore.”
“After recently celebrating my homecoming at Baltimore Peninsula, I couldn’t be more excited to lean into my role as development partner in Rye Street Market with The Exchange,” said Hayes in a press release. “Uplifting small business owners means a lot to me as a Baltimore-born entrepreneur, and with The Exchange, we’ll be working hard with entrepreneurs to curate an exceptional market experience that celebrates the spirit of Baltimore. As we get ready to open Slutty Vegan and Bar Vegan, I can’t wait to welcome new neighbors to the Baltimore Peninsula!”
This is the fifth retail and food concept announced to open at the Baltimore Peninsula development in 2024. The Exchange joins a revamped Rye Street Tavern by the Clyde’s Restaurant Group, Slutty Vegan, Bar Vegan, and a new coffee shop and general store by Method Co.
Next up for Baltimore Peninsula’s food and drink roster: a coffee shop
By: Amanda Yeager
Baltimore Peninsula, the new neighborhood in the works on the South Baltimore waterfront, so far has a hotel, office buildings, apartments, a distillery and two restaurants. As we learned last week, two more eateries — vegan restaurants from Baltimore native and Slutty Vegan CEO Pinky Cole — are on the way in 2024.
What it doesn’t have is a place to grab a coffee. That will change early next year, the project’s developers said Friday.
The neighborhood’s Roost hotel will open a coffee shop and provisions store in the spring. The yet-to-be-named business will serve espresso drinks and grab-and-go goods like pastries and prepared foods, said the hotel’s president, Daniel Cruz.
“We’re one of the first businesses to open in Baltimore Peninsula, and having this coffee and provisions store is really going to help activate the building,” Cruz said.
The 81-room Roost hotel, which offers apartment-style lodging for short-term and extended stays, opened in July. The building also houses 40 apartment units for long-term tenants.
Roost’s parent company, Method Co., will operate the coffee and provisions shop, which will also offer dry goods, home goods and local produce for sale. Cruz said the company hopes to source products from local vendors. A rendering of the 600-square-foot store shows a rustic-looking space with patterned tile floors, communal table and lots of hanging plants.
Cruz said the coffee shop will have seating of its own and will connect to the hotel lobby, where there is more seating available to guests. The store will be open to the public.
The cafe is the latest food-and-drink concept slated for the Baltimore Peninsula, formerly known as Port Covington. The 235-acre redevelopment of once-industrial land is also home to Nick’s Fish House, the Sagamore Spirit distillery and Rye Street Tavern, which will reopen in the new year under new management. Cole will bring plant-based burger chain Slutty Vegan and a cocktail bar and restaurant called Bar Vegan to the Rye Street Market building by the fourth quarter of 2024.