Walking the REBNY Ballroom: Hungry Brokers, Angry Lapidus


Speeches were casually ignored, drinks were spilled and bonds were formed at last Thursday’s 116th annual Real Estate Board of New York Gala, which this year drew an estimated 2,000 brokers, owners, advertising buyers and real estate reporters to the New York Hilton for an evening of conviviality, honorifics and hushed deal making. Among the fray was Commercial Observer staff writer Daniel Geiger, who during the course of the evening saw his stenopad tossed by an irate real estate broker and who unabashedly accosted Studley’s Woody Heller in the hotel’s bathroom, all for the sake of the story. Below, a timeline of gala comings and goings, from the innocuous gossip down to the downright obnoxious. 

1391 REBNY 116th Annual Banquet 1.19.121 400x271 Walking the REBNY Ballroom: Hungry Brokers, Angry Lapidus5:45
The 116th annual REBNY banquet is just getting started at the New York Hilton. Chicago Title is having an invitation-only party on the building’s second floor.

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5:46 As usual, the night’s official festivities begin with a cocktail party in the room adjacent to the Hilton’s main ballroom, where the dinner is held. Jason Muss, a principal at Muss Development, stands near the entrance to the room with Jared Kushner (owner of The Commercial Observer), Jared’s wife, Ivanka, and Fried Frank chief Jon Mechanic. “I love this party. It’s a great place to catch up with people,” Mr. Muss says.

5:50 The cocktail reception is quickly filling up. Simon Ziff, a principal at the financing company Ackman Ziff, stands near the open bar with his wife. “It’s overwhelming,” Mr. Ziff says. “Think of all the people here. A few seconds to say hi to each. That’s a lot of seconds.”

6:00  Hal Fetner, a developer who is building two prominent residential buildings with partner the Durst Organization, steps over to the bar. “The feeling in the room is always tied to the health of the market,” he says. So what’s the vibe? “Ask me later. It’s too early to tell. But I think things are good.”

6:01 John Santora, an executive at the real estate services firm who recently helped negotiate an agreement between landlords and the union that represents building employees, 32BJ, is chatting with C&W appraisal expert Brian Corcoran. “A lot of people worked on that deal,” Mr. Santora says of the negotiations. “I can’t take the credit for it.”

Steve Spinola, REBNY’s president, greets guests in the main room of the cocktail space. “We had to put a few tables upstairs,” Mr. Spinola says, indicating that attendance at the banquet has picked up from last year. “We got a lot of last-minute calls from people who wanted to come.”