Power 100

Power Emeritus: Steven Spinola

Steven Spinola.

What a long strange trip it’s been for Steven Spinola, who has been truckin’ along as head of the influential Real Estate Board of New York for nearly 30 years.

Mr. Spinola began his tenure in 1986 during the Koch administration and since then has been the public face of the real estate trade association, growing it to a record 16,000 members last year from around 4,000. Read More

Mortgage Observer

So They Say: Steven Spinola Talks Unethical Brokers, Taxes and Apartment Shortage

Steven Spinola by Arman Dzidzovic for The Commercial Observer

John Banks, the president-elect of the Real Estate Board of New York, has big shoes to fill when he begins his term on March 2. His predecessor, Steven Spinola, 65, will be retiring from his position at the end of 2015, marking 30 successful years in office.

Mr. Spinola began his term during Ed Koch’s mayoral administration, though he worked with many mayors, and saw New York City transform through the years, as crime plummeted and international interest in Gotham grew. From the rebirth of Times Square, to the outer boroughs becoming more family-oriented than ever before, Mr. Spinola is often credited with guiding REBNY through its most difficult times. Read More

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

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 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

The Lobby

REBNY Appoints ConEd’s John Banks Next President

John Banks

The Real Estate Board of New York picked John Banks, the vice president of government relations at Consolidated Edison, as its new president-elect, effective March 2, 2015, REBNY announced today.

Mr. Banks, who served in the Koch Administration and as a City Council staffer prior to assuming his current role at Con Edison in 2002, will replace current president Steven Spinola, who is stepping down after almost three decades as REBNY’s president. Read More

Market Reports

Report: Ground Retail Rents Rise Along 13 of 17 Corridors

Manhattan Retail Rents

Median retail asking rents in Manhattan grew eight percent in the last six months and 12 percent over the past 12 months, according to the latest biannual retail report released this morning by the Real Estate Board of New York.

Median retail asks for all kinds of spaces now run for $104 per square foot versus $93 per square foot last fall, while average ground floor rents increased along 13 of 17 corridors tracked by the report. The stretch of Fifth Avenue between 49th and 59th Streets remained the most expensive retail area in Manhattan at a median asking rent of $3,500 per square foot and its closest competitor, a Times Square area that encompasses Broadway and Seventh Avenue between West 42nd and West 47th Streets, stayed in second place with a median asking rent of $2,225 per square foot, the report found. Read More

Real Estate and Politics

Critics Question REBNY Over Cuomo Disclosures

Steven Spinola

A week after a three-month investigation by the New York Times substantiated earlier reports that Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s staff shielded the Real Estate Board of New York from scrutiny before disbanding the so-called “Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption,” good government advocates called for the public release of all documents related to the defunct commission and raised questions about REBNY’s political sway.

REBNY President Steven Spinola hasn’t sat for an interview since news leaked on June 17 that he would step down by the end of next year, and the saga of the commission’s stilted examination of the 421-a tax abatements that Mr. Cuomo and state Lawmakers awarded to five developers last year has provoked queries about the nature of the prominent trade and advocacy group’s Albany activities. Read More

The Lobby

Spinola Retiring From REBNY After 2015

Steven Spinola

Longtime Real Estate Board of New York President Steven Spinola will retire at the end of 2015, the Financial Times reported today.

Mr. Spinola, 65, has led the trade group and influential real estate advocacy organization since 1986, and he called the reports of his departure “premature” in a message to the organization’s board of governors while acknowledging that the recent extension he signed through the end of next year will be his last. Read More

guest editorial

REBNY Has Been a Loyal Friend to Preservation

A snapshot of the Soho Cast Iron District. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Landmarks are a vital part of New York City’s legacy and an essential part of its identity. Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, the Grand Concourse and Brooklyn Heights are each irreplaceable and distinctive elements that make up the fabric of our city. The members of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) proudly own and impeccably maintain some of New York’s great landmark buildings, and our office is in the magnificent landmark G.E. building. Read More

World Trade Center

REBNY President Steven Spinola Honors Larry Silverstein

L to R: Larry Silverstein, Steven Spinola

REBNY President Steven Spinola is praising friend and Silverstein Properties, Inc. Chairman Larry Silverstein for the progress made at the World Trade Center site and his various contributions to New York City real estate.

Mr. Spinola published an article in Real Estate Weekly yesterday highlighting and lauding Mr. Silverstein’s accomplishments encompassing “more than a lifetime’s worth of success” following the 82-year-old’s recent announcement that he would step down as co-CEO of SPI.

Read More