July 27, 2023

Ruby Two-Building Development Wraps Up At 243 West 28th Street In Chelsea, Manhattan

Construction is finishing up on Ruby, a pair of 22-story residential buildings at 243 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. Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is in charge of leasing and marketing and 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.

Façade installation was still ongoing on portions of the upper levels and on the interior-facing walls at the time of our last update in February. This has all since concluded, and the sidewalk scaffolding has been disassembled from both sides of the property. Some fencing and barricades still remain while work wraps up on the main entrance, but should be removed in the coming weeks.

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

The canopy over the front doors is among the few outstanding finishing touches. The metal framework is in place and more of the paneling will soon clad the underside and edges.

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

The following close-up shots show the details in the red brick façade, which was installed by King Contracting Group and spans some 100,000 square feet. The brick is arranged in various bond patterns, and features chamfered edges leading to the grid of recessed windows with decorative metal railings.

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

New light fixtures have been installed across the ground floor as well.

Photo by Michael Young

Work has also concluded on the metal-paneled mechanical bulkheads and the rooftop landscaping.

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Homes at Ruby come with in-unit washers and dryers, central AC, and name-brand kitchen appliances. Each unit has oversized windows and ceiling spans up to 15 feet, as well as contemporary fixtures such as smart home keyless entry, Nest thermostats, oak flooring, oversized closets, blackout and solar shades, and Energy Star-certified Bosch washers and dryers. Kitchens get a Bosch appliance package with custom cabinetry, satin chrome hardware, quartz countertops and full-height antique white herringbone tile backsplashes. The bathrooms are lined with polished chrome fixtures and mirrored cabinets with abundant storage, wall-hung oak vanity paired with a custom shelf, herringbone flooring, and walk-in showers with full-height herringbone tiled walls enveloped by seamless glass in select residences.

Amenities at Ruby include pet-friendly policies, a 24/7 attended lobby, a live-in superintendent, dog-washing station, media room, library, multiple indoor lounges, a two-story fitness center, children’s playroom, laundry room, bike storage, an outdoor second-floor courtyard, an outdoor rooftop swimming pool with an adjacent lounge, and an upper-level terrace on the southern building. The development is engineered to achieve LEED Silver certification.

The nearest subway from Ruby 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.

YIMBY expects the remaining work on the ground floor to be completed sometime later this summer.

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July 17, 2023
Commercial Observer

Elliott Investment Management Provides $196M Refi for Chelsea Multifamily Asset 

The loan refinances Ruby, a mixed-income luxury rental at 243 West 28th Street

MaryAnne Gilmartin’s MAG Partners has secured a $196 million refinancing loan for its 480-unit mixed-income luxury rental project in the heart of Manhattan’s West Chelsea neighborhood. 

The financing was provided by funds managed by Elliott Investment Management, which holds approximately $55.2 billion in assets under management, in a joint venture with an investment platform formed by Adi Chugh, CEO of Surya Capital Partners.

The refinancing retires an existing $173 million construction loan MAG Partners secured from Madison Realty Capital in October 2020, and comes as the luxury rental building — known as Ruby, and located at 243 West 28th Street — has achieved 40 percent leasing capacity less than four months after opening.  

“Our belief in this project and this city have been proven by the demand we are seeing for Ruby,” Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG Partners, said in a statement. “We are proud to have brought these beautiful homes to market through a remarkable time in New York City.”

Matthew Villetto, executive vice president, Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, handles leasing at the project. Viletto told Commercial Observer that both the leasing volume and rent performance at Ruby have been “unprecedented.”

He added that rents for the studios have entered the $5,000-per-month range, one-bedrooms are in the $7,000-per-month range, and that two-bedrooms have hovered between $10,000 and $15,000 per month since leasing began in late March. 

“It’s a testament to the strength of the New York City market and the flight to quality and the specific quality this building is offering,” Villetto said. “It’s just a really spectacular and unique proposition that the marketplace is responding very well to.”

The two-tower property also includes 8,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Building amenities include a rooftop pool, a private lobby garden, a fitness room, a club lounge, and a second-floor garden. Roughly 30 percent of the building’s 480 rental units are reserved for affordable housing.

This is the first New York City project for Gilmartin’s MAG Partners, which she founded in July 2020. MAG Partners has designed, built and operated more than 7 million square feet of office, residential and mixed-use projects, including more than 2,000 units of housing, for a total value in excess of $4.5 billion.

The West Chelsea project is a joint venture among MAG Partners, SafanadAtalaya Capital Management and Qualitas. Safanad is a global holding company located in New York City and Dubai that has invested more than $10 billion in various real estate, education, health care and digital infrastructure projects since 2009. Atalaya Capital Management is a New York City-based alternative investment advisory firm with $5 billion in assets. Qualitas is a leading real estate investment firm in Australia that has a book valued at $8.5 billion. 

Ruby highlights yet another headline between MAG Partners and Safanad. The two firms formed a non-exclusive joint venture agreement in November 2020 to pursue New York City real estate projects together for ground-up development or active management. 

“We believe the success of the Ruby is indicative of the resiliency of the New York City multifamily market and demonstrates the strength of our partnership with MAG Partners,” Andrew Trickett, head of investments at Safanad, said in a statement. 

MAG Partners has its eyes fixed on more New York City developments. The firm recently began demolition for two more mixed-income residential projects: one at 335 Eighth Avenue in Chelsea and another at 300 East 50th Street near the United Nations

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June 20, 2023

Demolition Prep Underway At 335 Eighth Avenue In Chelsea, Manhattan


Demolition preparations are underway at 335 Eighth Avenue, the site of an upcoming seven-story residential building in Chelsea, Manhattan. Designed by COOKFOX and developed by MAG Partners, the 200,000-square-foot structure will yield 188 residential units with 30 percent dedicated to affordable housing for low- and middle-income residents under the Affordable NY Program, as well as a 23,000-square-foot Lidl grocery store on the ground floor. Titan Industrial SVC Corp is the demolition contractor and Urban Atelier Group is the general contractor for the property, which is located at the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 26th Street within the Penn South affordable housing cooperative, officially known as Mutual Redevelopment Houses.

Recent photographs show sidewalk scaffolding set up around the perimeter of the current occupant of the site. Black netting should soon be assembled over the rest of the structure, and demolition will likely unfold quickly given the building’s modest low-rise scale.

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

The main rendering depicts 335 Eighth Avenue clad in red brick with floor-to-ceiling windows and several stepped setbacks topped with landscaped terraces on the upper levels. A pair of short mechanical bulkheads cap the structure, and the ground floor will feature oversized windows for the retail frontage.

YIMBY last reported that the Lidl supermarket will feature a bakery, fresh produce, a floral shop, meat and seafood, and other everyday essentials. The store will be the company’s second location in Manhattan, following a Harlem market that opened in February 2022. Lidl is expected to work with Hire NYC to offer employment to residents in the local community and provide comprehensive benefits such as healthcare for all full- and part-time employees, regardless of hours worked per week.

The property is a short walk from the C and E trains at the 23rd Street station.

Demolition is anticipated to wrap up in the third quarter of 2023, and the new residential development and Lidl are expected to open in 2026.

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June 16, 2023

Baltimore Peninsula Team Celebrates Opening Of Roost Apartment Hotel

On Friday, Baltimore Peninsula’s development team celebrated the pending opening of Method Co.’s 81-unit Roost Apartment Hotel at the $5.5B development along the city’s waterfront.

The building at 2460 Terrapin Way, designed by architect Hord Coplan Macht explicitly for long-term stays, is slated to open July 1.

“Baltimore Peninsula is well on its way to becoming an active community open to and enjoyed by all,” MAG Partners CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin said in a statement. “We have new residents moving in every day, a robust program of on-site activities for the regional community to enjoy and now we have a relaxing, amenity-filled hotel for visitors to enjoy.”

The Roost Apartment Hotel concept bridges the gap between a boutique hotel experience and apartment living. The properties include features like a full-size kitchen, balcony and full-wall windows. Additionally, Roost properties incorporate amenities like a 24/7 concierge and fitness centers with Peloton bikes.

The Baltimore Peninsula location includes furnished units between one and three bedrooms. The property also provides 20K SF of indoor and outdoor amenity space, including an open-air pool. Aumen Asner Inc. and Method Studios, Method Co.’s in-house design studio, collaborated on the interior design.

Method Co. already operates Roost properties in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit and Tampa, Florida, and plans an additional location in Charleston, South Carolina.

Completing the Roost is part of what the development team calls Chapter 1B of building the 235-acre megaproject, including 1.1M SF of office, residential and retail.

The Roost will be the third residential building to open at Baltimore Peninsula, following Rye House and 250 Mission. Earlier this year, those properties started leasing their 416 apartments, including 89 affordable units.

The idea to bring the Roost concept to Baltimore Peninsula predates MAG Partners and MacFarlane Partners, which assumed the role of lead developers last year. Weller Development Partners, the project’s initial lead developer, pursued bringing the Roost concept to the development known at the time as Port Covington.

“ROOST Baltimore plays an integral role in the exciting future of Baltimore Peninsula and provides a critical foundation and unique flexibility in the hospitality and residential offerings,” Weller Development Partners President Marc Weller said in a statement. “It is wonderful to see Baltimore Peninsula come to life right before our very eyes, and ROOST is a catalyst for this continued momentum.”

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June 6, 2023

Rendering Revealed For 335 Eighth Avenue Redevelopment In Chelsea, Manhattan

Rendering of 335 8th Avenue. Courtesy of COOKFOX

Rendering of 335 8th Avenue. Courtesy of COOKFOX

MAG Partners is teaming up with affordable housing cooperative Penn South to redevelop 335 Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, Manhattan. The new seven-story mixed-use building will include ground-floor commercial space and 200 residential units with affordable housing for low- and middle-income residents. COOKFOX is designing the 200,000-square-foot structure.

“It is an honor to partner with Penn South and join their long legacy of community building in Chelsea,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG Partners. “We are committed to building in a way that enhances this beautiful neighborhood and provides value to the coop’s long-term sustainability.”

Located on the corner of West 26th Street and Eighth Avenue, the building currently houses a Gristedes grocery store, a community tennis club, a McDonald’s, and was home to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre from 2003 until 2017. The new development will have a grocery store as one of the commercial tenants.

Under the Affordable NY Program, 30 percent of its units will be reserved for low-and-middle income New Yorkers. In order for Penn South to maintain affordability, MAG Partners will develop and operate the building under a long-term ground lease.

“The top priority for the board of directors is to preserve the affordability of Penn South for current residents and future generations,” said Ambur Nicosia, president of the Penn South Coop Board. “We needed a solution that does not require our shareholders to pay major increases in monthly maintenance fees. The stores are supposed to subsidize the apartments, not the other way around. I am pleased that we found a partner who will help us achieve these key objectives through the development of a new building that is contextual and appropriate to the surroundings.”

Renderings depict floor-to-ceiling glass on the ground floor, and a brick façade on the upper levels. Frontage along Eighth Avenue has an even grid of windows and bands breaking up the red-hued masonry. The exterior along West 26th Street features more floor-to-ceiling windows and several landscaped setbacks. MAG Partners has partnered with COOKFOX for 241 West 28th Street, another residential building in Chelsea.

Construction for 335 Eighth Avenue is expected to begin in 2022.

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May 16, 2023
Commercial Observer

Power 100 – #50 MaryAnne Gilmartin

MAG Partners scaled its business in a big way during the past year and not long after the company’s birth.

The developer, which MaryAnne Gilmartin founded in July 2020, launched leasing in February for its inaugural New York project, the 480-unit Ruby residential development at 243 West 28th Street in Chelsea. Thirty percent of the units are designated as affordable, and the property includes 8,500 square feet of ground-floor retail. It is named after Black fashion designer Ruby Bailey, and it marked the first of a portfolio of multifamily buildings MAG plans to name after historical and influential women.

“Ruby embodies what we as a company did through the pandemic, where we doubled down on New York and we bet on the city when people were writing its obituary,” Gilmartin said. “We managed to get the financing and the construction underway in very, very difficult circumstances. And now, behold, we have this beautiful building.”

Two other New York City projects from MAG began to take shape in the past year, including at 335 Eighth Avenue, where demolition has begun for a 188-unit rental building. MAG’s project team also assembled a development site at 300 East 50th Street with plans for construction later this year.

Gilmartin also led MAG’s expansion into the Baltimore market by joining with MacFarlane Partners in May 2022 on a 177-acre master-planned community project in South Baltimore. The

1.1 million-square-foot mixed-use development also includes sponsorship from Sagamore Ventures, the family office of Under Armour founder and chairman Kevin Plank, as well as Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group. Since taking over in the developer role, Gilmartin

has signed two commercial leases and an extended-stay hotel development deal, and also started the residential lease-up of nearly 600 units, with a 20 percent affordable component.

“We’ll always be a New York company, but our love of New York and our ability to do what we do, which is to build multiple asset classes and think really big and boldly, brought us to Baltimore,” Gilmartin said. “I think that that was a high-water mark for us to grow the company outside of New York and actually put a flag in the dirt in Baltimore.”

Growing MAG’s footprint into Baltimore contributed to the company more than tripling its employee roster. It now has 33 on staff, 50 percent of them female.

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May 8, 2023
Baltimore Business Journal

Clyde’s Restaurant Group to take over Baltimore Peninsula’s Rye Street Tavern

A Washington D.C. restaurant group is expanding to Baltimore with plans to take over a waterfront tavern in the Baltimore Peninsula development.

View Source
April 28, 2023
Baltimore Banner

Residents and businesses are moving to the Baltimore Peninsula. Here’s a first look.

Penelope Blackwell

Published on: April 27, 2023 2:13 PM EDT|Updated on: April 28, 2023 9:58 AM EDT

Looking north east at the future Triangle Park from 250 Mission.
Looking northeast at the future Triangle Park from 250 Mission. (Carl Schmidt for the Baltimore Banner)

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Commercial, retail and residential spaces have opened at Baltimore Peninsula, the ambitious, 235-acre mixed-use development on the site of an old industrial port in South Baltimore’s Port Covington neighborhood.

The first few office tenants and residents have moved into three newly constructed buildings at the historically underutilized site, which neighbors several predominantly Black communities to its south.

MaryAnne Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG Partners, the lead developer, is not stopping there.

“We need Baltimore to be on everybody’s radar,” she said.

More than 800 townhomes, a large entertainment venue and plans to reconfigure major nearby roads and highways are also in the works for the multi-block project, spanning some 200 acres. Existing tenants there include City Garage, Sagamore Spirit Distillery and Rye Street Tavern.

Hotly contested due to its record-breaking tax increment financing package — which allows developers to use property taxes generated at the site to pay back bonds issued early on for public infrastructure needs — the $5.5 billion waterfront venture promises more than 14 million square feet of new construction upon its completion. City residents, housing activists and economic watchdog groups also have opposed the use of such a large incentive — City Council approved $660 million in tax increment financing funds in 2016 — given Baltimore’s other pressing and existing needs.

Baltimore could be on the hook to pay back the bond costs if developers fail to lease up the site, which has only landed two new office tenants so far. Between the first two residential buildings, 11 units have been leased.

The H. Chambers Company, a planning and design firm specializing in private clubs and hospitality, is the first tenant to occupy an office within the Rye Street Market business complex located at 2455 House St. The company signed on for about 9,000 square feet of space.

Rick Snellinger, president and CEO of The H. Chambers Company, welcomes visitors during the office tour. (Carl Schmidt/for the Baltimore Banner)

The building can accommodate smaller businesses with spaces around 25,000 square feet, but there are larger floor plans as well. The rooms are divided by glass walls and doors, and “the sun, the light and air is abundant in the all corners of the floor plate,” Gilmartin said.

Office at The H. Chambers Company. (Carl Schmidt/for the Baltimore Banner)

Robert Hickman, board chair of the design firm, said the company looked all over the region for their sixth office location.

But it was the Baltimore Peninsula that offered a place that was “really special,” he said, including access to an outdoor balcony.

“We needed something that really brings the outdoors in. And we deal in the world of private clubs … it’s all about inside outside,” Hickman said.

Rooftop of 2455 House St. building. (Carl Schmidt/for the Baltimore Banner)

CFG Bank has also signed on to lease about 100,000 square feet in Baltimore Peninsula. They plan to move in by the end of 2023.

By 2024, Gilmartin expects enough activity to get nearly 75% of the commercial space leased, she said.

Rye Street Market commercial space. (Carl Schmidt/for the Baltimore Banner)

Just across the courtyard are two mixed-use apartments buildings, Rye House and 250 Mission, where maritime-inspired units — with natural wood, and glass and steel finishings — are available. Other amenities include ample green spaces, co-working spaces and some Juliet balconies.

Rye House lobby. (Carl Schmidt/for the Baltimore Banner)

Ryan Watts, the general manager at real estate developer Bozzuto, said the leasing since early April amounts to 15% of the units at Rye House and 10% of the units at 250 Mission.

Of the 416 units at Rye House, 54 will be dedicated to households earning 80% of the area median income, or AMI, while another 35 will be dedicated to those earning 50% of the AMI.

Communal dining area at Rye House. (Carl Schmidt/for the Baltimore Banner)

Last year, New York-based MAG Partners and the San Francisco-based MacFarlane Partners took over the large-scale development, first pitched in 2016 by Under Armour founder Kevin Plank and his Sagamore Ventures development firm. Plank and his associates began buying up the land for the site about a decade ago. Since then, sales at the sportswear company have dropped, and the company has scaled back plans for its new Baltimore Peninsula offices.

In November, developers at MAG and the San Francisco-based MacFarlane Partners rebranded the development, changing the name to the Baltimore Peninsula from Port Covington. They said they hoped to turn a page on some of the project’s contentious history.

Sagamore Ventures still maintains a “major equity stake” in the project, and a new corporate headquarters for Under Armour is slated to open in the fourth quarter of 2024.

Looking northeast along Atlas Street. (Carl Schmidt/for the Baltimore Banner)

Gilmartin said the master plan allows for flexibility, and she envisions building a large entertainment or sports venue, as well as an accompanying hotel and conference center.

She also thinks the project’s scale and easy access to a major highway will make it attractive to the film industry.

“And so we are looking at ways the public sector could develop programs that will attract to that industry, because they’re really good jobs; they train the people both on the other side of the camera and behind the camera,” she said. “And they need the kind of space that our master plan is conducive for.”

Baltimore Banner reporter Hallie Miller contributed to this story.

[email protected]

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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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