Things were different last night as the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) celebrated 126 years as an organization — three years longer than the pact that brought together the five boroughs. For the first time since the pandemic, its annual banquet was both in person and held in June.
To reflect that city cheerleading, the hashtag was #NY4ever.
As the City’s oldest and most influential trade association REBNY represents a who’s who of city landowners, building investors and owners, real estate executives and service professionals who work to provide housing for residents of all incomes and nationalities, along with spaces for retailers, hotels and companies of all shapes and sizes.
REBNY members also serve those from all over the world seeking to live, invest or park their dollars in the safest spot on the globe.
To put it in perspective, according to the Dept. of Finance, on May 25, the city’s 1.094 million tax lots were worth $1.39 trillion — 7.84% higher than a year ago.
The city encompasses 3.066 million homes and apartments with 1.2 trillion square feet of commercial properties including over 499 million square feet of offices and 1,039 hotels.
In fiscal year 2019 alone, 52.8 percent of all city taxes — $31.9 billion of the total $60.4 billion in taxes — came from real estate taxes and fees. The industry’s contribution to the city’s coffers has also doubled since 2008 while other city taxes have risen by about one third.
The high taxes affected payments during the pandemic as Class Four commercial property delinquency increased by 5% to 14,980 parcels. The amount owed rose by $117 million or 66% to $323 million of which $307 million came from Manhattan properties and hotels accounting for $50.3 million.
Led by President Whelan, its 15,000 members are intimately involved in crucial city matters including the formulation of tax policy, city planning and zoning, land use policy, landmarking, the preservation of affordable housing and other structures, regulations governing the condition of rentals and conversions, building codes and other legislation that make our city socially and equitably responsible, safer and greener.
Along with larger property owners, REBNY members include the smaller minority apartment building owners, residential and commercial brokers and managers, financial companies, title companies, lawyers, accountants, architects, bankers, utilities and even media companies like the New York Post.
The organization also publishes several reports providing indicators of market pricing in the residential, retail and commercial sectors.
Smart politicians listen because the organization provides thoughtful and well-crafted advice on policies that affect all of the City’s residents. REBNY expects to continue conversations with and educating those who are against growth and development at the same time high taxes and housing continue to be of concern. “We will take on the challenges and work with elected offices to get to a place of policy making,” Whelan said.
REBNY’s Chairman Douglas Durst presided over the organization’s first in-person celebration since the pandemic, and at its new location. The raucous event had nearly 2,000 attendees who forked over $1,400 for the privilege of mingling more than they sit.
“As we raise funds for social impact initiatives and enjoy food and drinks from some of the top chefs and mixologists in the country, we also celebrate our leaders who have been integral to the recovery of New York,” Whelan said.
A new educational video highlighted the work of the REBNY Foundation to support New Yorkers in need of rental assistance, create construction job opportunities for underserved New Yorkers and increase diversity and inclusion in real estate.
REBNY again honored individuals who demonstrated continued commitment to both the city and the industry.
“Some prominent public officials will be participating, and we will honor industry leaders and the role their companies played in helping the city navigate our way through the pandemic,” Whalen said. “It’s an honor to be able to unite the industry members, public officials and business officials who have worked so hard to make invaluable contributions to our great city.”
In the past, guests include REBNY’s board of governors and the evening’s honorees along with, very often, the governor, the mayor, deputies, commissioners and staffers, the City Council Speaker, Council Members, State Senators and Assembly representatives, US Congressional representatives and Senators, as well as other appointed and elected officials who create photo op gridlock as the real estate press buzzes with cameras and questions.
Over the years, those presiding on the dais have resorted to cymbals, megaphones and other devices to quiet the crowd during the award ceremony while former REBNY President Steve Spinola was teased for his 30 years of “shussshing.”
This night wasn’t any different.
Street smarts: Inside the city’s most ingenious deals
Commercial real estate brokers from Marcus & Millichap, CBRE and Savills won the Real Estate Board of New York’s three most ingenious deals of 2021.
Ten sales, 13 leases and three finance deals competed for the industry’s most prestigious honors, which were revealed during a cocktail party in April.
“Every deal faced pandemic challenges, but these brokers used their remarkable ingenuity to achieve extraordinary results,” said Woody Heller, co-chair of the REBNY Sales Brokers Committee, which oversees the contest.
The first place Henry Hart Rice Achievement Award went to Eric Michael Anton and Nelson Lee of Marcus & Millichap, for overcoming numerous obstacles to achieve the long-term ground lease of the Martinique Hotel at 1260 Broadway.
The second prize Robert T. Lawrence Memorial Award was taken home by James Millon and Tom Traynor of CBRE Capital Markets who completed a $1.25 billion, fully non-recourse financing for the redevelopment of the vacant Terminal Warehouse at 261 Eleventh Ave. by the Hudson River.
For the third Edward S. Gordon Memorial Award, a Savills broker, Jarod Stern, convinced dozens of jewelry tenants to compete as one industry group. This prompted three building owners to compete for the deal. Stern’s co-winner, the broker for 608 Fifth Ave., Michael Affronti of CBRE, was able to persuade his client to accept not just the entire group and its many caveats, but a very simple lease agreement.
Cheers for peers: REBNY dishes out annual awards to biz’s royalty
George M. Brooker Management Executive of the Year Award
Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award
Louis Smadbeck Memorial Broker Recognition Award
Young Real Estate Professional of the Year Award
Bernard H. Mendik Lifetime Leadership in Real Estate Award
John E. Zuccotti Public Service Award
Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award