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. 

View Source