REBNY 2015

REBNY’s 119th Gala Through the Five Senses

REBNY gala

Last night, 2,300 of Steven Spinola’s closest friends gathered at the New York Hilton Hotel at 1335 Avenue of the Americas between West 53rd and West 54th Streets to help usher in his retirement after nearly 30 years as president of the Real Estate Board of New York. At REBNY’s 119th annual banquet, Mr. Spinola was bestowed with the Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award for his dedication to both the trade organization and the city.

“We are enormously proud to honor our dear friend Steven Spinola for all the spectacular work he does for our industry,” said REBNY Chairman Rob Speyer, the president and co-chief executive officer of Tishman Speyer, in prepared remarks. “For nearly three decades, through good times and bad, Steve’s professionalism, thoughtful advocacy, and generosity of spirit has inspired our community.” Read More

REBNY 2015

How NYC and REBNY Have Evolved Over Spinola’s Tenure

Mets become world champs after winning game 7 of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Shea Stadium. (T.G. Higgins/Getty Images)

When Steven Spinola became president of the Real Estate Board of New York in 1986, New York City was not the gentrified, scrubbed-clean, 21st century metropolis it is today. It was a city that was crime-riddled, where one was more likely to find heroin in Bryant Park than a summer movie festival and, with more than 8,000 bikes stolen annually, any program resembling CitiBike would have been a pipe dream. Here is a glimpse of the changes the city and REBNY have undergone over the past three decades. Read More

REBNY 2015

A Look at REBNY’s Presidents: From 1973 to Today

Steven Spinola.

Although REBNY has been in existence since the late 19th century, the organization’s presidency position is relatively new. Prior to 1973, the chairman was the highest elected official in the organization. This position was, and remains, a part-time role. According to A Centennial Appreciation 1896-1996, a retrospective of REBNY’s first 100 years published in 1996, it was decided that a “full-time, paid president and a larger professional staff were needed to make the board a sufficiently potent force in New York’s increasingly complex civic and economic affairs.” The full-time presidency was first held by D. Kenneth Patton; John H. Banks will be the fourth person to assume the role.  Read More

REBNY 2015

REBNY Ticktock: An Itinerary to Follow Thursday Night at the Hilton

Big clock

Want to know where to be and when at the Real Estate Board of New York’s 119th gala Thursday night? In addition to the banquet with its honorees, there are a slew of cocktail parties—all at the New York Hilton hotel in Midtown—where you will have more opportunities to hobnob with a who’s who in real estate before wandering down the hall to the grand ballroom for the banquet. Read More

REBNY 2015

An Etiquette Guide to the 2015 REBNY Gala

(Illustration by Luke McGarry)

While Emily Post is the queen of all forms of etiquette, we doubt she has ever codified the behavior of real estate professionals attending the Real Estate Board of New York’s annual gala.

Held on Thursday, Jan. 15, the $1,100-per-ticket REBNY banquet at the New York Hilton Hotel is a breeding ground for hobnobbing and celebration. With more than 2,000 people in attendance, it can be a wild night. As Douglas Elliman’s Faith Hope Consolo said: “This is not an easy audience to control. Real estate in New York is like one big theater. Everyone in real estate thinks they’re in Hollywood.” So, for folks who plan to attend the industry’s biggest night out, Commercial Observer asked event veterans for some advice on how to have a fruitful night at the New York Hilton for the 119th annual banquet. Read More

REBNY 2015

A Year in the Life of REBNY


The Real Estate Board of New York helped property owners with their tax bills and assisted little leaguers with their balls and strikes in 2014.

This past year, the REBNY helped create new construction requirements that now govern mechanics, plumbing and building at every construction site in New York City. The organization worked to negotiate new agreements with both residential and commercial building worker unions representing tens of thousands of employees. REBNY also successfully pushed for a change in expense reporting for city tax purposes, which gives up to 90 percent of affected property owners a break. Read More

Power Broker, REBNY 2015

Former Con Ed Honcho to Shine Light as REBNY’s Next President

John Banks

The Real Estate Board of New York’s next president got his start in city government just as the board’s current president assumed the role.

In 1986, the same year Steven Spinola started his nearly three decades as REBNY president, Mayor Ed Koch’s administration hired a recent graduate of Manhattan College named John H. Banks to the mayor’s Office of Operations. In the wake of the infamous Parking Violations Bureau scandal, Mr. Koch tapped Mr. Banks to join a team investigating the cause and scope of a bribery and extortion scheme that turned the city’s political world upside down that year. Read More

The Sit-Down, REBNY 2015

Spinola Signs Off After Nearly 30 Years as the Face of REBNY

Steven Spinola. (Arman Dzidzovic for The Commercial Observer)

On March 2, John Banks will officially become the president-elect of the Real Estate Board of New York (assuming the presidency by the end of 2015), relieving Steven Spinola of his responsibilities as REBNY’s president, a post he will have held for the past 29 years and has called “the opportunity of a lifetime.” Mr. Spinola, 65, began his tenure in 1986 during the Koch administration and has since been the public face of the influential city real estate trade association.

Prior to serving as REBNY’s president, Mr. Spinola was the president of the New York City Public Development Corporation, which is now the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

In one of his last interviews as sitting president, Mr. Spinola sat down with Commercial Observer to reflect on his nearly three decades with the organization, which has quadrupled in size on his watch, and what life after REBNY holds for him. Read More

REBNY 2015

REBNY 2015 Honoree Glen Weiss

Glen Weiss.  (Illustration by Russ Tudor)

When Glen Weiss first walked into 11 Penn Plaza as a porter he had no idea he was starting his career. His dad was a property manager for a client of the Mendik Company, who operated the building and sought help in the summers to give vacation time to their regular porters and engineers. To the 16-year-old aspiring sportscaster this was simply a way to make money. Mr. Weiss commuted from Old Bridge, N.J., by bus with his dad, leaving around 6 a.m. “It was always in the dark,” he laughed. That was 1986. And much is still the same.

Mr. Weiss still leaves his home in the dark, though he now lives in Livingston, N.J., with his wife and their three daughters, and his transportation is his car. And he still works for the same company, so to speak. Vornado Realty Trust, where Mr. Weiss is executive vice president—director of leasing, acquired Mendik in 1997. At the time, Mr. Weiss was working in property management and attending Pace University at night to achieve an M.B.A. in finance. “I was lucky enough to be promoted to leasing the next year,” he said.  Read More

REBNY 2015

REBNY 2015 Honoree Daniel Kindbergh

Daniel Kindbergh. (Illustration by Russ Tudor)

A certified public accountant since 1982, Daniel Kindbergh was in the audit world for about four years before he joined E. F. Hutton as an accountant administering real estate limited partnerships. He moved to the operations side of real estate in 1996, around the time Olympia (his then-employer) was purchased by Brookfield Property Partners.

In those days—with no legal team (just one lawyer), no marketing team, and so forth—everyone did everything, like writing and negotiating contracts. And there wasn’t the software available today. Every task was completed manually and fortunately Mr. Kindbergh has the ability to talk to anyone and everyone: senior executives in the business world, engineers and mechanics.  Read More

REBNY 2015

REBNY 2015 Honoree Peter Hauspurg


Peter Hauspurg, who founded Eastern Consolidated in 1981 with his partner and wife Daun Paris, has a law degree from Fordham University. Admittedly “not a natural at practicing law,” his background has been invaluable in commercial real estate.

“It’s helpful to speak the same language as the people putting the deals together,” he said, referring to the back and forth of contract negotiations.“It’s like being the only non-Russian speaker in a room. As soon as you learn Russian you realize, ‘Jesus, you don’t know any more than I do.’ ” Read More

REBNY 2015

REBNY 2015 Honoree Barbara Fox

Barbara Fox. (Illustration by Russ Tudor)

A political science undergrad who “sort of” had an eye toward law school, Barbara Fox started her career in New York City at Doubleday & Company. She survived about three months in publishing before making her way into her true and lasting professional home—residential real estate—at one of the historically worst times in the market.

“The ’70s were a terrible time for real estate in New York City. There were serious financial and economic problems,” Ms. Fox said. Ms. Fox knocked around the real estate world taking jobs with Alice Mason and Stribling, but within a decade the lessons she learned from that initial foray into publishing—patience, adjusting, relationships—led to Ms. Fox starting a 60-person residential division at The Cross & Brown Company, a brokerage and property manager. Read More

REBNY 2015

REBNY 2015 Honoree William Rudin

William Rudin. (Illustration by Russ Tudor)

Life in the real estate industry started at birth for William Rudin, who grew up in one of his family’s buildings on the Upper East Side. The Rudins have owned properties in New York for more than a century. “It is part of my DNA,” said the chief execuutive officer and vice chairman of Rudin Management Company. “I was intrigued at an early age watching my grandfather, father and uncle influence the landscape of the city we love.”

Fittingly, Mr. Rudin is the recipient of this year’s Real Estate Board of New York Bernard H. Mendik Lifetime Leadership in Real Estate Award.  Read More

REBNY 2015

REBNY 2015 Honoree Steven Spinola

Steven Spinola.

Since 1986, Steven Spinola, this year’s recipient of the Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award, has been the public face of the New York City real estate community. This distinction, named for real estate executive Harry B. Helmsley, is bestowed on a Real Estate Board of New York member who has achieved a “lifetime of exceptional accomplishment in the profession,” as well as having heavily contributed to New York civic life.

Over the course of his nearly 30-year tenure as REBNY president, Mr. Spinola has worked alongside five New York City mayors (Ed Koch, David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio) and five New York State governors (Mario Cuomo, George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer, David Paterson and Andrew Cuomo) to ensure the trade organization’s voice has been heard in the political discourse. The New York Observer and Commercial Observer have repeatedly named Mr. Spinola as one of the city’s and state’s most influential people.  Read More

Lease Beat

Steinway, Durst Strike Closing Note in Midtown [Updated]

1133 Avenue of the Americas

The Durst Organization and 163-year-old piano makers Steinway & Sons have finalized the 15-year, 40,501-square-foot deal for a new ground-floor showroom and retail space and 33rd floor offices at 1133 Avenue of the Americas, Durst and Cassidy Turley announced yesterday.

Steinway moved out of its longtime building at 109 West 57th Street before the end of the year and had been near signing the deal with Durst this fall, as The New York Times reported. The company, which sold the building last year just before the Paulson & Co. hedge fund bought the company itself, will operate a pop-up at another Durst property starting the week of Jan. 5 while architect Annabelle Selldorf builds out its new space, Durst officials said. Read More