Hartford, Conn. (November 3, 2023) — United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut announced that the late Martin J. Kenny will receive the 2024 Jeffrey Digel Award, a recognition created and given by the commercial real estate and building industry at its Building Foundations Breakfast in May.
Annually, the commercial real estate and building industry has partnered with United Way on an event that raises awareness and funds to help prevent and address homelessness in Greater Hartford. The fundraiser also serves to honor the legacy of the late Jeffrey “Jeff” Digel for his tremendous commitment to the real estate profession and the community at large.
“Our friend Jeff Digel was an amazing person who made everyone feel connected and like they were a part of something. He was not just a giant in commercial real estate but also in our community, serving on nonprofit boards and founding Covenant Preparatory School. There was no better person to name this award for at our annual event,” said Mike Riccio, a Founding Committee Member of Building Foundations and Senior Managing Director, CBRE Capital Markets in Hartford. “This year, our industry lost one of our own, a person that through his professional and personal contributions, has made the Greater Hartford region a better place. Marty Kenny was a friend, mentor and an inspiration to so many in our industry and beyond. We are proud to be able to honor Marty’s legacy at this year’s event.”
Kenny, who lived in Long Island, NY for most of his childhood, moved with his family to Connecticut in 1965. He attended Glastonbury High School, graduating in 1974 and later graduated from Boston University in 1978 and Quinnipiac University School of Law in 1983. Early in his career, Kenny worked for United States Senator Richard Stone in Washington, D.C. He then returned to Connecticut and settled down and started his family.
Professionally, Kenny began his career working in the Commercial Real Estate division of a bank and then joined his father, Maurice Kenny, in real estate development. This was the beginning of his long and illustrious career as a Real Estate Developer in Hartford,
It was through lifelong friendship and mutual interest in real estate that Kenny and Alan Lazowski founded Lexington Partners in 1994.
Kenny was at the forefront of multi-family development in Central Connecticut. He applied the lessons learned in his commercial career to the long process of approvals, financing and construction of his first multi-family deal. In 2001, Kenny took on the redevelopment of a prime property facing Bushnell Park in Hartford. The property was originally intended to be a soaring office building, but the deal and financing fell through in the 1980’s and a recession followed soon after. Kenny successfully built the property into a nine-story apartment building, known as Trumbull on the Park. At that time, some wondered whether there would be demand for apartments downtown. But Trumbull on the Park would set the stage for a new wave of apartment construction that gained momentum and is still unfolding amid high project occupancy.
Kenny and Lexington became known for taking on difficult projects that required reimagining them and creating a compelling story to get community buy-in. Addison Mill (2008), a beautiful project constructed from an 1800’s dilapidated mill building in Glastonbury overlooking a pond, was a site few other developers wanted to touch. The success of Addison Mill led to the long process of developing and constructing challenging sites: The Tannery in Glastonbury (2017), Other multi-family and mixed-use developments in the last several years include Mallory Ridge (Bloomfield), Windsor Station (Windsor), Sage Allen (Hartford), The Borden (Wethersfield) and One Park (West Hartford), a recently completed project of 292 apartments at the site of the former convent, the Sisters of St. Joseph. Kenny deeply valued his relationship with the sisters he worked with to make this project possible, as it helped him re-connect with his Catholic upbringing.
“We have a lot to be thankful to Marty for. His vision, persistence and creativity made seemingly difficult projects, like Trumbull on the Park, successful” said, Alan Lazowski, Kenny’s long-time friend and business partner. “We will continue to honor him by continuing his work on current projects and starting new ones.”
Kenny began growing Lexington into a larger property management company and welcomed his two sons, Patrick and Kevin into the business. Kenny began to expand to redevelop apartment buildings in the Southeast but he remained loyal to Hartford, his headquarters since the 1980’s.
Along with his successful professional career, Kenny maintained a deep, but very private connection, to the community through philanthropy. He supported Covenant Preparatory School, which his good friend Jeff Digel helped to start and continued his father’s practice of supporting Open Hearth throughout his life.
“Marty was very philanthropic and supported many causes in his life, but he did so without fanfare. He often gave anonymously,” said Lazowski. “Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard from people about the impact of Marty’s philanthropy and support and what it has meant to our community. He touched many lives in his time and did so in a very understated way.”
Since its inception in 2020, Building Foundations has raised nearly $1.2 million. In addition to supporting organizations through United Way that address homelessness, a portion of the proceeds are donated to Covenant Preparatory School in honor of Jeff Digel.
“United Way is honored to be part of this collaboration with the commercial real estate and building sector. The Founding Committee members identified United Way as the right partner to make Building Foundations the event for the commercial real estate and building industry in our region. We accepted their invitation with great responsibility knowing the impact that this effort has had and will continue to have on our collective work to prevent and address homelessness,” added Eric Harrison, President and CEO, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.
THE Commercial Real Estate and Building Industry Breakfast: Building Foundations event will take place May 2, 2024 at the Connecticut Convention Center. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Please visit unitedwayinc.org/building-foundations for more information.
About United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut
United Way brings people and resources together to address immediate needs and find long-term solutions to challenging problems. United Way does this by investing in programs and services, leading community change initiatives, and mobilizing resources and volunteers to ensure that children succeed in school, people get jobs and are financially secure, people are healthy and basic needs are met during tough times. For more information, visit unitedwayinc.org.
About THE Commercial Real Estate and Building Industry Breakfast: Building Foundations
In early 2021, a diverse group of commercial real estate and building industry professionals, in partnership with the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, came together to create an event that would raise critical funds to address and prevent homelessness. Since that time, the Building Foundations Breakfast has raised $1.2 million dollars to support local programs and initiatives in partnership with United Way. For more information, visit unitedwayinc.org/building-foundations/.