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.
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.
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.
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.”