Landlord Larry Gluck dies at age 71

Former partner of Steve Witkoff was diagnosed with ALS in 2013

Stellar Management's Larry Gluck (Stellar Management)
Stellar Management's Larry Gluck (Stellar Management)

Laurence “Larry” Gluck, one of the city’s biggest and, at times controversial, landlords, died on Thursday after a long illness. He was 71.

Gluck was diagnosed with ALS in 2013. Representatives for his company and family confirmed his death on Friday. 

“A visionary leader in the real estate industry, Larry’s dedication and commitment to excellence have left an indelible mark on New York City’s landscape,” his firm said in a statement. “His legacy of innovation and integrity will continue to inspire all who knew him.”

In the statement, the company said that Gluck’s wife, Sandra Gluck, and oldest daughter Amanda Gluck, will remain “at the core of Stellar Management’s leadership team” alongside the executive team, which includes managing partners Adam Roman, Matthew Lembo and Ryan Jackson.

“Stellar Management continues to be a family business dedicated to the long-term ownership and stewardship of New York City commercial real estate,” the company said.  

Gluck grew up in the Bronx, one of four children, in a two-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment. The family later moved to a home in Rego Park in Queens. 

At one point, Gluck wanted to be a pharmacist, but his father pointed out an alternative path: Instead of being a pharmacist, he could make more money buying a pharmacy, as Gluck told Michael Stoler in a 2011 interview for CUNY TV’s “Building New York.” 

He became an attorney, starting out in aviation litigation, but quickly moving onto a clerkship in the Appellate Division Second division in Brooklyn Heights. 

Gluck then secured work as a litigator at Proskauer, Rose, Goetz & Mendellsohn, but didn’t enjoy serving papers to people on a Friday and ruining their weekend, he said in the interview.   

However, he developed a love of architecture while living in Brooklyn Heights, and decided he wanted to work for a real estate law firm, he told Stoler. He joined industry-focused firm Dreyer & Traub, where he met some of the biggest names in the industry, including Peter Kalikow, Donald Zucker and Donald Trump.    

“It was a terrific training ground,” he said.   

He bought his first building at 540 Henry Street in Carroll Gardens, which he found in the New York Times classifieds, “by passing the hat amongst my brother and one or two law school friends,” told Stoler. He spent $192,000, and financed 80 percent of it. 

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He met fellow real estate attorney Steve Witkoff, and the two decided to buy and then flip 915 Post Avenue in Inwood for $230,000, he told Stoler. They got a taste of dealmaking.   

Gluck and Witkoff co-founded Stellar Management in 1985; the name was a combination of their first names. 

One of the first office buildings the company bought was 156 William Street in the Financial District, paying $5.5 million. Their office was across the street from the property, and they picked up and moved to the newly acquired building. 

“Initially, the business plan was ‘we’ll take office space across the street and make an investment out of the deal,’” Witkoff told TRD in 2014. “Nobody wanted it. So we bought it and fixed it up and learned the office business.” 

The two parted ways in 1997 as Witkoff became more invested in office properties and Gluck turned to multifamily properties. 

Gluck drew the ire of tenant advocates in the early aughts for buying up Mitchell Lama properties and then cashing in when affordability periods expired. His loss of the Riverton Houses in Harlem, a 1,200 unit housing complex with mostly stabilized units, to foreclosure in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis did not ingratiate him with that crowd. But, as the New York Times reported in 2010, he won over city and federal housing officials when he took over the ailing Tivoli Towers in Crown Heights.  

More recently, the company faced accusations of illegally deregulating rent stabilized units. In 2019, a state housing court ruled that Stellar overcharged tenants at one of its Upper West Side properties. In that case, the firm claimed that more than $20,000 a year in rent increases were justified because it had spent $70,000 renovating the building. Later that year, the state legislature severely restricted the program at the center of that case, the individual apartment improvement program.  

The firm was also an active investor in Opportunity Zones and played a critical role in shaping a census tract on the Far West Side

Stellar’s portfolio includes more than 12,000 apartments across 100 multifamily buildings and 2 million square feet of offices in New York City and Miami, according to the company’s website. Last year, the company filed plans for two rental towers at 341 10th Street in Park Slope. The firm has more than one million square feet under development.

He is survived by his wife Sandra, and three daughters, Amanda, Dana and Heather. 

At the end of the 2011 interview, Stoler asked Gluck if, as a kid growing up in the Bronx, he ever envisioned becoming a real estate baron. 

“I don’t know if I’m a baron,” Gluck said. “But I’ve had a lot of good luck in my life.”

Read more

Stellar Management's Larry Gluck and a rendering of plans for 341 10th Street
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50 West 97th Street (Credit: Google Maps)
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