How Fidler & Macks Met
Chesapeake Realty Partners CEO Larry Macks and COO Josh Fidler have been working together since their 20s, but they first met when Larry was just 15 years old. In the 39 years since, they’ve amassed a portfolio of almost 9,000 apartments and a robust land development biz (and more inside jokes than we could ever imagine).
Josh (left) started dating Larry’s middle sister, Genine, at Brown University. After school, Josh and Genine married (above are the brothers-in-law at the wedding) and went off to NYU School of Law. (Josh was a New Yorker: born in White Plains and grew up in Westchester County’s Port Chester.) The couple graduated in 1980. Josh went on to clerk in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York and practice at law firm Paul Weiss before he and Genine moved to Baltimore in ’85. Meanwhile, Larry, who’d grown up working in all areas of the family biz, graduated from Northwest Baltimore’s Park School and then paid his dues at St. Louis’ Washington U. After pocketing a JD from Maryland School of Law in 1984, he joined his dad, Morty Macks, as director of sales and land acquisition for Macks Homes. Eight months later, Josh joined, making it a true family biz.
Here are Larry and Morty at Howard County’s Village of Montgomery Run in 1989. In their first two years, Josh and Larry trailed Morty everywhere. They tell us they looked like his bodyguards, considering they’d incidentally bought matching raincoats at Barneys. As the company and their roles grew, their responsibilities diverged. Larry took up his dad’s mantle and concentrated on land and property acquisitions and homebuilding. Josh worked on the income-producing properties and property management. In the mid ’90s, Morty (now 89) retired. He’d put in his time, Larry and Josh say, having earned a civil engineering degree at age 19, served in a construction battalion at Okinawa in 1945, and founded Macks Homes the next year. By the time he retired, the threesome’s business was the largest non-national homebuilder active in the Baltimore metro, putting up more than 400 houses a year, not to mention apartment and retail properties.
Above is Paragon at Columbia, one of Chesapeake's current projects. In the late ’90s, national homebuilders had started to dominate the scene, making money not just on construction but also on the title insurance and finance aspects of the transactions. It also was time to make the company Larry and Josh’s own, so they switched gears a bit, building it into one of the largest suppliers of developed lots in the metro—this time around working with, not against, the competition. They sold the homebuilding enterprise to Masonry Homes in ’98 and the 3,300 apartments they’d built to Home Properties in 1999. They continued to build, though, putting up another 900 apartments from 2001 to 2002, plus shopping centers and thousands of lots. They took a break from land purchases from ’05 to ’08 as they market overheated, a prescient decision that sheltered the company during the recession.
Here are Josh and Larry earlier this month in Bethesda flanking frequent JV partners Robert Sandler and Josh Bernstein of Bernstein Management. In ’08 and ’09, Chesapeake started buying land in Maryland, DC, Virginia, and Pennsylvania for apartment development because while they expected the homeownership rate to drop, they believed in the Mortyism that “People gotta live somewhere.” That teed up groundbreakings for 4,000 apartments from 2011 to 2016, starting with 188 at Belcamp’s Reserve at Riverside and 288 at Camp Hill, Pa.’s Overlook Apartments. In 2012 and ’13, Chesapeake Realty delivered another 585 apartments in Baltimore, Ellicott City, and Manassas, Va. And this month, it launched leasing for 320 units at Paragon at Columbia Overlook and 150 at Fair Lakes, Va. Another 212 units will deliver at Reserve at Riverside in May, and a whopping 1,075 will deliver from November through the middle of 2016 in Towson, DC, and NoVa.