This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles. MaryAnne Gilmartin has been one of New York City’s most prominent developers for years in her position as CEO of Forest City Ratner, building the Barclays Center and Pacific Park megaproject in Brooklyn, the New York Times Building in Midtown Manhattan and Frank Gehry’s first high-rise apartment building, 8 Spruce St. Downtown.
In 2018, she left her post as the leader of the REIT’s New York office to strike out on her own, founding L&L MAG in January. Backed by L&L Holding Co. and hundreds of millions in equity funding, Gilmartin, after two decades at Forest City, is now the first female founder of a construction and development firm in New York City.
Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
Gilmartin: I have the greatest job in the world running a real estate development company called L&L MAG that I founded at the start of 2018. I’m able to work with the best and brightest in the finest city on the planet, changing neighborhoods and impacting the city skyline. My gig is full of purpose and passion.
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
Gilmartin: I am a hopeless developer! It’s all I know and it allows me to be involved in amazing philanthropy while providing for my family.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
Gilmartin: A brief stint in a commercial brokerage. Great people, but not my thing. I realized I needed more control — I am well-suited to be a principal.
Bisnow: What was your first big deal?
Gilmartin: My career-defining transaction was the New York Times headquarters deal — where we acted as JV partner and developer. It was my breakout project because I led the chase and the execution.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Gilmartin: I don’t like that word. My biggest missed opportunity would be not going to law school. Not that I ever wanted to be a practicing attorney — I just love the intellectual endeavor.
Bisnow: How do you define “making it”?
Gilmartin: Living a life defined by great relationships, feeling an abundance of purpose, having the ability to provide for those I care deeply about and, finally, ordering fresh flowers at will!
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Gilmartin: People who multitask during meetings and those who watch the room over your shoulder for FOMO.
Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?
Gilmartin: I have been blessed with more than one. Notably — Bruce Ratner for teaching me how to run a meritocracy, and Mary Ann Tighe, who has always believed in me more than I believed in myself.
Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you’ve ever gotten?
Gilmartin: Best — the hard fight is worth it. Worst — take typing.
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Gilmartin: Traveling to far places with my brood.
Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
Gilmartin: Jules Verne on top of the Eiffel Tower
Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?
Gilmartin: I’d pass.
Bisnow: What’s the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Gilmartin: After taking over for the great and indomitable Bruce Ratner, launching my own development company with Robert Lapidus and David Levinson.
Bisnow: Whose work do you most admire?
Gilmartin: The Architect’s masterpiece.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
Gilmartin: As a mother, a woman and a New Yorker: DC politics!
Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?
Gilmartin: My kids.