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.
“I had decided at that time that this would be my final contract with this extraordinary organization, although I have agreed to continue to serve in an advisory and consulting role for a number of years to follow,” Mr. Spinola wrote. “I look forward to the next 18 months and beyond of serving the most important industry in New York.”
REBNY’s membership, which encompasses more than 13,000 real estate professionals, according to its website, has tripled during Mr. Spinola’s tenure, he noted. REBNY leaders like current chairman Rob Speyer of Tishman Speyer immediately jumped to sing his praises even as steadfast critics of the organization called for a new direction.
“For nearly 30 years, Steve has done an extraordinary job advancing the economic interests of New York City for the benefit of all its citizens,” Mr. Speyer, who is leading a committee to search for Mr. Spinola’s replacement, told the Financial Times. “We are grateful to him for his stellar leadership.”
The news arrived amid ongoing speculation over REBNY’s relations with progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio, but Mr. Spinola has gained plaudits for his ability to navigate between REBNY’s membership, elected officials and the media as the group pushed its pro-growth agenda through the years.
“There’s a lot of balls in the air, there’s a lot of people to work with, and he’s done a great job,” said Faith Hope Consolo, retail group chairman of Douglas Elliman. “He’ll be a tough act to follow.”
Mr. Spinola earned more than $925,000 while the nonprofit organization took in more than $10 million in revenues in 2011, according to its most recent available public filing with the Internal Revenue Service. And, while REBNY critic Neil Binder, a principal of the Bellmarc Companies, said he “admires and respects” Mr. Spinola, the longtime broker whose company Coldwell Banker acquired last year has been calling for the trade group to do more to support residential agents for years.
“REBNY should be an advocate for creating a world of fairness for the real estate community, particularly the little guy,” said Mr. Binder. “I’ve talked to them about it and it’s not like they’re disrespectful to me. But I haven’t seen it.”