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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